What is the Consumer Code and why is it important to me?
The Consumer Code for Home Builders was developed by the home-building industry to make the home buying process fairer and more transparent for purchasers.
The code requires that all home buyers are treated fairly, know what levels of service to expect, are fully informed about their purchase and their consumer rights before and after they move in, and are provided with a speedy, low-cost dispute resolution scheme to deal with complaints about breaches of the code.
The code contains requirements that all home builders who register homes with the UK’s main new home warranty bodies (NHBC, Premier Guarantee and LABC Warranty) must comply with.
What does the Consumer Code require?
Home builders must comply with the requirements of the consumer code and have regard to good practice guidance.
The Consumer Code for Home Builders’ Scheme logo must be prominently displayed in home builders’ sales offices, those of appointed selling agents and in sales brochures. If you don’t see it – ask if your builder is signed up to the Code. If it is not – be wary!
Larkfleet Homes, of course, is covered by the Consumer Code and we are pleased to provide our customers with all the protection that this ensures.
The home builder must have suitable systems and procedures to ensure it can reliably and accurately meet the commitments on service, procedures and information in the code.
Appropriately trained customer service staff
The home builder must provide suitable training to all staff who deal with home buyers about their responsibilities to them and what the code means for the company and its directors.
Sales and advertising material and activity must be clear and truthful.
Home buyers must be given enough pre-purchase information to help them make suitably informed purchasing decisions.
In all cases this information must include:
- A written reservation agreement.
- An explanation of the home warranty cover.
- A description of any management services and organisations to which the home buyer will be committed and an estimate of their cost.
- The nature and method of assessment of any event fees such as transfer fees or similar liabilities.
If a home is not yet completed, the information must include:
- A brochure or plan illustrating the general layout, appearance and plot position of the home.
- A list of the home’s contents - the standards to which the home is being built.
Home buyers must be told how their questions will be dealt with and who to contact during the sale, purchase and completion of the home.
Home buyers must be given accurate and reliable information about the insurance-backed warranty.
Health and safety
Home buyers must be informed about the health and safety precautions they should take when visiting a development under construction and when living on a development where building work continues.
Home builders must advise home buyers to appoint a professional legal adviser to carry out the legal formalities of buying the home and to represent their interests.
Home buyers must be given a reservation agreement that sets out clearly the reservation’s terms.
While the reservation agreement is in force, the home builder must not enter into a new reservation agreement or sale agreement with another customer on the same home.
The home buyer must be given reliable and realistic information about when construction of the home may be finished, the date of legal completion, and the date for handover of the home.
Home buyers must be told about their right to terminate the contract.
The home builder must clearly explain how home buyers’ contract deposits are protected and how any other pre-payments are dealt with.
The home builder must provide the home buyer with an accessible after-sale service and explain what the service includes, who to contact and what guarantees and warranties apply to the home.
The home builder must have a system and procedures for receiving, handling, and resolving home buyers’ service calls and complaints.
The home builder must let the home buyer know of this, and of the dispute resolution arrangements operated as part of this code, in writing.
The home builder must co-operate with appropriately qualified professional advisers appointed by the home buyer to resolve disputes.
The code applies to complaints made up to two years from the date on the home warranty body’s insurance certificate (which defines the start of the period of cover) about defects or damage caused by a breach of its technical requirements. An independent dispute resolution scheme is available for home buyers who believe their builder has failed to meet the requirements of the code.
What does the code cover?
The code covers every stage of the home-buying purchase – pre-contract, exchange of contract and during occupation.
The home builder must provide a contract which is clear and fair, complies with all relevant legislation and clearly explains the home buyer’s contract termination rights.
Delay and cancellation
If an unreasonable delay occurs in completing the home, the home buyer has the right not to go ahead with the purchase and have their reservation fee returned without deductions.
Who is covered by the code?
The consumer code applies to home buyers who reserve to buy a new or newly converted home built by a home builder under the insurance protection of one of the supporting home warranty:
The code’s pre-sale and handover requirements apply to home buyers who are the first purchasers of a home. Second or subsequent home buyers benefit from the code requirements but only on after-sales matters they report within two years from the date of the home warranty body’s insurance certificate.
Who is not covered by the code?
The code and the independent dispute resolution scheme do not apply to:
- Second-hand properties (for example, properties taken by home builders in part exchange and re-sold).
- Properties acquired by registered social landlords for rent.
- Properties acquired by corporate bodies, partnerships and individuals buying more than one property on the same development for investment purposes.
- Properties built by self-builders for their own occupation.
- Properties assigned or sub-sold by an investor to a third person before legal completion.
- Personal injury claims.
- Loss of property value or blight.
- Claims about the land conveyed and its registered title.
- Claims that exceed the independent dispute resolution scheme’s limits.
How is the code governed?
A management board is responsible for operating the Consumer Code scheme.
How is the code monitored?
The code aims to make a positive difference to the service which home builders provide to new home buyers.
To encourage home builders to adopt the code and to enable the consumer code’s management board to check how well it is being applied, or whether it needs to be amended or updated, the following activities may be carried out:
- Audits, which may include audits of home builders’ systems and documents.
- Mystery-shopping surveys.
- Annual returns or reports from home builders.
- Reviews and assessments of customer satisfaction feedback and complaints.
How is the Consumer Code enforced?
The home warranty bodies have agreed to require all their registered builders to adopt and comply with the code as a condition of registration.
Read the code
You can read the code and find more details about how it operates at here.