Buy Now, Pray Later

Daily Mail (London), August 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Buy Now, Pray Later


Byline: Graham Norwood

LAST WEEK, the Cambridgeshire home of police community support officer Zally Huseyin was raided by her colleagues, after their helicopter's infrared camera spotted what they call a 'hot roof'.

They suspected she might be guilty of growing cannabis. She wasn't, but the extreme heat loss from the roof of her new home put the structural quality of new-builds under the spotlight.

There has been much speculation about the quality of the insulation.

Mrs Huseyin's heating bill last year was ?1,000 'I feel I've been ripped off,' she said.

The building company, David Wilson Homes, insists that the house meets legal and industry standards. But the incident comes as all housebuilders are reeling from a report by the Office of Fair Trading.

In the OFT survey of 1,050 owners of new homes, a third said there were delays moving in because their properties were not finished or had last-minute problems. Up to 70 per cent of buyers found faults and one in 20 had more than 50 faults.

The results indicated that most problems related to poor decoration or plasterwork, badly fitted glazing and windows, kitchen units, faulty central heating and hot water supply.

There were also difficulties with internal doors and faulty or missing electrical sockets.

Half of those experiencing problems said they had been resolved in two weeks, but 5 per cent had to wait more than six months, and 2 per cent waited a year.

It wasn't all bad news: 80 per cent of buyers said they eventually paid exactly what they were quoted for their home, and 15 per cent said they paid less than they were quoted. Of those who paid more, it was usually because the buyer altered the specification during the building process.

The OFT says it will use these findings to discuss the performance of the industry with house builders, who are already suffering a huge downturn in demand.

Worried potential buyers are sitting tight waiting for lending restrictions to ease, and to see if prices already down about 8 per cent in the past year fall further. As a result, developers have stopped work and are sending builders home from many schemes, rather than finishing houses that may remain unsold.

Analysis by housing consultancy London Residential Research shows that the number of new homes started in the capital this year will fall 57 per cent from its 2007 level.

The number of homes completed in the West Midlands is down 21 per cent, and in the East Midlands 23 per cent, according to estate agency King Sturge. …

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