The Homes and Communities Agency will force builders to go back and improve new homes if they don’t meet the environmental standards claimed

Robert Napier, HCA chair, said the body would carry out post-occupancy evaluation on 15% of social housing schemes and all HCA-funded private schemes to ensure they meet the required level three of the Code for Sustainable Homes .

Napier said: “It’s important to be rigorous and do samples and checks. If they don’t meet the standards they can bloody well go and retrofit it and that will be expensive for them.” He added that meeting code level three was legally binding and a condition of the grant.

Napier said that schemes that aspired to code level four would be “favoured” when it came to receiving HCA funding.

The HCA is updating its own environmental and design policy, having appointed a panel of six experts to prepare new minimum standards for HCA-funded homes. These will harmonise existing standards inherited from the merger of the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships in December. The document will be issued for consultation in the summer.