NHBC acts to pre-empt Office of Fair Trading investigation into standard of new homes

John Callcutt, the former chief executive of Crest Nicholson, is to chair a taskforce designed to raise low levels of customer satisfaction with the quality of new homes.

The taskforce has been convened by new homes warranty provider the NHBC to fend off criticism ahead of the findings of an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into the housing industry.

The news also comes the week after the industry’s annual satisfaction survey showed no improvement over the past three years.

Callcutt concluded a review of UK housing delivery last autumn by suggesting that developers’ access to public funding should be linked to satisfaction.

David Pretty, the former chief executive of Barratt Homes, and Derek Field, McCarthy & Stone’s northern operations director, have also been appointed to the taskforce.

Imtiaz Farookhi, chief executive of the NHBC, said the taskforce would find out whether the failure to improve satisfaction was because of poor building and customer service, or because of other issues, such as house location or regulatory constraints.

He said: “We’re very aware that satisfaction levels have plateaued. But it’s important for us to find out how much of the problem is to do with issues outside of our control.”

About 80% of homes are completed by NHBC-registered builders, with the organisation inspecting them on completion to ensure they are finished, and offering a customer warranty. However, the agency does not check minor finishing issues or monitor after-sales service.

Farookhi said these were both issues that would be looked at by the taskforce, which will report in the autumn, to coincide with the OFT’s conclusions.