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New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) compliance explained

8 minutes read

Housebuilders & Developers

New build homes and development in Bedford UK

There’s a growing problem with how home buyers view newly built properties. According to recent consumer survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by the The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), 55% believe older homes are of better quality than new builds and almost a third of survey respondents (32%) chose to describe new build housing as ‘poor-quality’. In addition, around 33% of respondents indicated they have a ‘low level of trust’ in housebuilders to build new homes to a high standard, while 63% said they were very or somewhat concerned about potential issues with new build housing.

The prevailing perception that new build homes are of low quality can dissuade potential buyers from considering them as viable options in the housing market. Emerging high-profile new stories about housing disasters in major developments don’t help this notion.

In reality, poor-quality new builds have become less and less common in recent years. Updated building regulations, such as The Approved Document Part L for energy efficiency as an interim measure to The Future Homes and Building Standards 2025, as well as The Building Safety Act 2022 which made provisions for the safety and standards of buildings have all given residents and homeowners more rights, powers, and protections, while refocusing the attention of housebuilders on processes.

Legislation, combined with quality standards, has resulted in a very clear set of requirements that housebuilders and developers must now document and evidence. In the last year we’ve seen a surge of companies updating their previously manual processes to ensure that they can take more control over the quality of their homes to meet the highest standards and regulatory compliance.

The world we live in today is becoming increasingly consumer-driven, and poor quality is more easily exposed due to consumer choice. As a result, a new ombudsman has been established to offer buyers support and processes when they encounter problems, and to ensure minimum levels of quality standards, housebuilders and developers are required to adhere to a code of conduct. That organisation is the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB).

Deliver quality housing and meet regulatory compliance

Quality Management for Part L Photographic Evidence | Quality Assurance | Snagging & Defect Management | NHQB Compliance | BIM Quality Assurance

Zutec Quality Management Booklet Mockup Cover

What is the New Homes Quality Board?

In 2021, the Government established the NHQB to ensure that housebuilders and developers meet consistently high standards of quality and service. According to the CIOB, roughly 80% of housebuilders are currently registered with the NHQB, with many more pending. The CIOB called on the government to conduct a review of the NHQB in 2023 to determine whether all housebuilders should be registered.

By empowering consumers with knowledge about the mechanisms in place to hold housebuilders accountable for any deficiencies in the construction of their homes, the NHQB will be able to work towards instilling confidence in the quality of new builds while also fostering accountability within the construction industry.

This not only benefits individual homeowners but also contributes to the overall improvement of housing standards, ultimately alleviating some of the challenges posed by negative perceptions towards newly built homes.

From a housebuilder or developer perspective, being NHQB compliant allows you to demonstrate that you are delivering a high-quality standard to every new home using rigorous quality assurance processes to ensure that your properties are constructed to a high specification.

New Homes Quality Code of Practice mandatory requirements

To become a registered housebuilder or developer with the NHQB, you are expected to agree to follow the New Homes Quality Code (The Code). Should consumers feel their housebuilder is not working to the high standards of the code, they can take their case to the New Homes Ombudsman who will deal with any complaints arising under the code.

As a result of this code, registered housebuilders and developers must adopt and comply with mandatory requirements.

The fundamental principles of the code:

  • Customers must be treated ethically throughout the entire home buying process, ensuring clear and accurate information is provided, and empowering customers to make independent decisions with the support of legal advisors and pre-completion inspections.
  • Housebuilders and developers must adhere to building regulations and standards, make sure completion of works is to high-quality specifications, and ensure legal completion only when the new home meets all requirements.
  • Any customer issues must be promptly addressed providing robust after-sales services and offering support to vulnerable customers.
  • All reasonable financial arrangements must be in place to meet all obligations under the code, including timely repayment of deposits or financial awards made by a New Homes Ombudsman Service when due.

Preparing for NHQB Pre-Completion Inspection

If a buyer reserves a house from a NHQB registered housebuilder or developer, they are protected by the code during the sales process, and right through to two years post-occupancy. New build house buyers have the option to engage a suitably qualified inspector to conduct an NHQB Pre-Completion inspection if they so wish, to understand more about the quality of their homes.

This inspection includes exterior requirements that ensure details such as roofs, walls, windows, drains, paths or driveways are undamaged, built correctly are consistent in finish and are operating properly. Interior requirements are inspected room by room and check for example, that all appliances, services and sanitary wear are operating correctly, are securely fixed and undamaged, as well as ensuring all joinery, walls, ceilings, and floors are finished to a consistent high standard, are free from damage or defects, evenly installed and securely fixed.

Although NHQB inspections are performed by the house buyer, these can reveal a number of post-construction issues which then must be fixed before completion and should in ordinary circumstances be expected to take no longer than 14 calendar days.

As a housebuilder or developer, ensuring the quality and integrity of your homes is paramount to your reputation and the satisfaction of your customers. Being prepared for NHQB Pre-Completion inspections enables you to build right first time and that any snags can be identified at the time of construction and addressed well before a buyer inspection whilst sub-contractors are still onsite. This would both greatly reduce the quantity and cost of aftercare call-backs, as well as provide a better customer experience and build brand trust.

That’s why implementing an effective snagging and defect management process that can track all relevant information to uphold compliance standards with the NHQC is crucial for delivering homes of the highest standard that satisfy customer expectations, while combating the misconceptions and criticisms facing the housebuilding sector in recent years.

Practical steps for addressing NHQB compliance requirements

In the ever-evolving landscape of construction, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards is critical for housebuilders and developers. Lack of compliance could lead to huge fines or even being shut down, so staying on top of regulation requirements is vital to not being caught out.

The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) sets strict guidelines to uphold the quality and integrity of new homes, emphasising the importance of pre-completion inspections to identify any snags or defects before handover to a buyer. However, traditional paper-based inspection processes can be cumbersome and prone to errors, leading to costly aftercare issues and customer dissatisfaction.

As an accredited supplier of the NHQB, and a provider of quality management solutions to housebuilders and developers, Zutec has developed its NHQB Compliance Solution to support housebuilders with quality inspections and checks. Having the NHQB template standardised in digital form is a game-changer as it aligns with Zutec’s other quality management tools to streamline processes and provide access to quality data from one platform. This brings uniformity to the inspection process and ensures consistency across projects and plots, eliminating discrepancies and human error in inspection procedures.

All NHQB and quality-related documentation is stored securely in the cloud, accessible to authorised users anytime, anywhere. This centralised repository simplifies data management and facilitates collaboration among project teams, contractors, and inspectors.

Gone are the days of manual paperwork and tedious data entry, where data can be lost or incorrect. With Zutec, housebuilders and developers can conduct inspections digitally and collaborate in one place, saving time and resources. Inspections conducted on the Zutec Field app offer greater accuracy and detail compared to traditional paper-based methods. Inspectors can attach photos, videos, and annotations to each snag or defect, providing clear documentation for resolution.

Zutec NHQB Compliance Dashboard Incomplete Works
Zutec NHQB Compliance Dashboard showing incomplete works on the Zutec platform

NHQB dashboard on Zutec showing incomplete works per plot/unit and per subcontractor

Using the dashboard included with Zutec, project managers can monitor the work done by whom and decisions made, as well as generate robust reports and audits, enabling them to track inspection progress, monitor compliance status, and generate comprehensive reports for NHQB inspectors and stakeholders.

By conducting thorough pre-completion inspections and addressing snags and defects promptly, housebuilders and developers can mitigate the risk of costly aftercare callbacks and customer complaints. Instead, issues can be identified and resolved early, ensuring a smooth handover process from start to finish that enhances customer satisfaction.

To understand more about how our NHQB compliance solution can help you, get in touch with our expert team to arrange a consultation and demo. Alternatively, to understand how the Zutec platform can digitise all your quality management processes read our Quality Management booklet.