Connect with us

Current

Our new build nightmare: New homes now average 157 defects,

Voice Of EU

Published

on

More than three million new homes have been built in the UK over the past two decades. 

Yet while housing developers have made record profits with the help of government incentives, owners have been left to deal with a litany of problems.

The new-build business is now a £60 billion industry, market researcher IBISWorld says. And ministers want to be building 300,000 homes each year by the mid-2020s.

New build nightmares: The average property now comes with as many as 157 defects, up 96% from 80 in 2005, according to specialists BuildScan

New build nightmares: The average property now comes with as many as 157 defects, up 96% from 80 in 2005, according to specialists BuildScan

But Britain’s new housing developments are often full of unhappy residents. Owners complain of soaring numbers of defects — and some are forced to sign non-disclosure agreements before repairs are made.

Others were burdened with onerous leasehold contracts and many face huge bills to remove fire- risk cladding. Although the Government pledged to ban the sale of new leasehold homes in England, they can still legally be sold today.

Furthermore, homes are being built on flood-risk land and to poor standards of energy efficiency.

So how has Britain allowed shoddy standards to sully its new housing stock?

Snagging shame

About 94 per cent of new-build homeowners report at least one defect once their property is complete, according to a recent poll by trade body the Home Builders Federation (HBF). 

Poor plastering, bad brickwork pointing and damaged windows are among the most commonly reported ‘snags’.

The average property now comes with as many as 157 defects, up by 96 per cent from 80 in 2005, according to specialists BuildScan. 

Over the same period, the price of the average new-build home has soared by 44 per cent to £340,936.

And in recent years, more properties have been built by the 12 biggest construction giants. 

In 2015, larger firms made up 59 per cent of the market, up from 31 per cent in 2008, according to a parliamentary report. Scores of smaller construction companies went bust in the wake of the financial crisis.

Big business: The new-build business is now a £44.4bn industry, market researcher IBISWorld says and ministers want to be building 300,000 homes each year by 2025

Big business: The new-build business is now a £44.4bn industry, market researcher IBISWorld says and ministers want to be building 300,000 homes each year by 2025

But some experts claim larger firms are more likely to leave homes with scores of snags, as their builders are under pressure to finish developments quickly and move on.

Delays caused by supply issues in the construction chain and spiralling cost of materials have piled more pressure on the industry.

James Forrester, managing director of small developer StripeHomes, says: ‘Unfortunately, snagging issues are rife and the big builders are often the culprits. 

The result is that some homes simply aren’t fit for purpose and, in the most serious cases, pose a real danger to those unlucky enough to purchase them.’

Nicholas Christofi, the managing director of Sirius Property Finance, says lower-quality new-build homes could start to deteriorate after just 30 years.

And government schemes such as Help to Buy have also helped firms fill their pockets, by offering interest-free equity loans to buyers with small deposits — if they bought a new-build property. Critics say builders used the scheme to push up prices.

Told to sign NDA to get £7k payout 

Shoddy: Jamie Flarry has reported 400 snags with his Persimmon home

Shoddy: Jamie Flarry has reported 400 snags with his Persimmon home

Jamie Flarry and Sarah Lynn reported 400 snags with their Persimmon home.

The couple bought 50 pc of the £370,000 four-bedroom house in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, through a shared ownership scheme two years ago.

But within days they had uncovered problems including a front door that wouldn’t open properly and a leaky bath.

After battling Persimmon and Hightown Housing Association, which owns the other half of the property, Jamie, 40, a payroll manager, eventually went to his warranty provider, Premier Guarantee, which confirmed that 270 of the issues he had reported should be fixed.

Persimmon initially offered the couple £2,000 to have things fixed themselves if they signed a non-disclosure agreement. This was later raised to a final offer of £7,000.

Jamie, pictured above, went back to the warranty company, which paid £12,000 in July.

A Persimmon spokesman says it has worked hard to resolve the couple’s complaints over the past two years.  

Heating letdown

Most buyers would expect their new-build home to meet the latest energy-efficiency standards.

Last week, the Prime Minister confirmed that from next year, developers will have to install electric-car charging points for new homes. 

And all properties are now given an energy performance certificate (EPC) to tell buyers how energy-efficient they are.

But government figures show that just 2 per cent of EPC ratings given to new homes in England between July and September this year were an A standard, the highest score. 

And while 83 per cent achieved a ‘B’, 2 per cent received an E and a few were awarded a G, the lowest rating. In Wales, just 5 per cent of new-builds achieved an A.

The Government is banning gas boilers in new homes from 2025 — but hundreds of thousands could be fitted in new builds before then.

An energy-efficient heat pump costs about £2,500 to install when a home is being built, and more than three times as much to fit retrospectively. 

And while the Government will begin offering £5,000 grants towards the cost of fitting a new heat pump in England and Wales, new-build homes will not be eligible.

Labour says that if heat pumps were installed in more than 850,000 homes built over the next three years, owners would be spared a bill of more than £5 billion.

Lucy Powell, who was shadow housing secretary until this week, says: ‘It is insanity that we are building homes today that will need to be expensively retrofitted.’

A government spokesman says homes built to current standards won’t need extensive retrofitting to reach net zero. New-build buyers in Scotland can apply for up to 75 per cent in cashback, capped at £7,500, towards the installation of a renewable heating system such as a heat pump.

Threat: Floodplain development had risen by 12% in the last decade, putting more families at risk of dangerous and costly floods, according to the Committee on Climate Change

Threat: Floodplain development had risen by 12% in the last decade, putting more families at risk of dangerous and costly floods, according to the Committee on Climate Change

Flooding risk

Local councils are under increasing pressure to approve plans for new builds — and this year alone, approval was given for more than 5,000 new homes to be built in areas at high risk of flooding, according to insurer LV and think-tank Localis.

Floodplain development rose by 12 per cent in the past decade, according to the Climate Change Committee.

Owners of properties in areas with a history of flooding, or at high risk of it, are frequently rejected by mortgage lenders. 

While home insurance premiums for properties built before 2009 in flood-risk areas are capped by the Flood Re scheme, those built after then are not. 

And councils are not legally obliged to follow Environment Agency advice to not build on floodplains.

David Renard, of the Local Government Association, says: ‘Councils reject planning applications that are reckless, and are generally opposed to building property where there is a risk of flooding.’

200 tradesmen visits 

John Charalambous and his wife Sarah Noakes, left, claim to have had more than 200 visits from staff and tradesmen over problems with their new-build.

John Charalambous and wife Sarah Noakes claim have already had more than 200 visits from staff and tradesmen over problems with their £400,000 new-build

John Charalambous and wife Sarah Noakes claim have already had more than 200 visits from staff and tradesmen over problems with their £400,000 new-build

Sales manager John, 49, and Sarah, 35, moved into their £400,000 four-bedroom home in Hailsham, East Sussex, in November last year but found issues including a leaky bay window and stained carpets.

John says: ‘I must have sent more than 300 emails to Linden Homes since then.’

A Linden Homes spokesman says: ‘We have been in contact with the customer in response to the items raised and the vast majority have been resolved.’

Too little help

Developers are normally obliged to fix any problems with new builds free of charge, as long as the issues are spotted within two years. 

Between three and ten years after a property was built, the builder usually has to repair major defects that would cost more than £1,500 to fix.

But homeowners can be fobbed off and ignored for months.

Paula Higgins, of the campaign group HomeOwners Alliance, says: ‘All too often, we hear from families who are waiting months or even years to get problems fixed.

‘While some builders will eventually resolve the issue, other drawn-out snagging requests will lead to rows over who is accountable and whether the firm should have to foot the bill.’

Buyers can complain to their builders and, if they get nowhere, take their case to the National House Building Council (NHBC), as long as the firm is a member. 

But some campaigners say the NHBC has limited scope to help. It will not force builders to pay out for extra costs incurred, such as for surveys.

Hotly contested snag complaints can be taken to a small claims court, provided the homeowner is claiming back £10,000 or less.

But if this is unsuccessful, you may pay as much as £790 in court fees if you decide not to represent yourself. 

For families who have spent their savings on a new home, this is often too much.

Last week, The Dispute Service was appointed to run a New Homes Ombudsman service, offering free help to unhappy buyers whose builders have signed up to it. 

The Government says a mandatory scheme will be introduced once the Building Safety Bill has received royal assent.

Scandal homes

New-build buyers have also been hit by a series of scandals. About four million people are unable to sell homes deemed unsafe due to fire-risk cladding. 

This includes more than a million flat owners who also face crippling bills for safety measures and special insurance.

Meanwhile, some 4.5 million new-build buyers were locked into punitive leasehold contracts, which came with soaring ground rent demands that rendered some homes unsellable.

In 2017, the Government pledged to ban developers from selling new leasehold houses after a hard-fought campaign by the Daily Mail.

A Bill to reduce punitive ground rents to zero for most of these properties recently received its second reading in the Commons.

The Home Builders Federation says new builds are boosting local economies and that customer satisfaction is ‘extremely high’.

A spokesman also says that new-build homes are significantly more energy efficient than older properties.

A government spokesman says it remains committed to banning the sale of new leasehold houses.

f.parker@dailymail.co.uk

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Source link

Current

Hyatt unveils plans for two new UK hotels

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has entered into management agreements with Stratford City Hotels Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of M&L Hospitality, for Hyatt Regency London Stratford and Hyatt House London Stratford. The 225-room Hyatt Regency London Stratford and the 127-room Hyatt House London Stratford are expected to open in Q2 2022 following an extensive refurbishment. Both hotels will be conveniently located within one of Europe’s largest urban shopping and entertainment complexes, Westfield Stratford City, and a short walk to Stratford Station and Queen Elizabeth Park.

 

“The addition of these two hotels will be another exciting step in growing Hyatt’s brand presence in the United Kingdom and in creating a network of hotels across the key commercial and leisure markets in the country,” said Felicity Black Roberts, vice president of development Europe, Hyatt. “We worked closely with M&L Hospitality to choose the right brands for the location and are pleased to be continuing our relationship with them following the successful openings of Hyatt Regency Manchester and Hyatt House Manchester in 2019.”

 

Designed with productivity in mind, Hyatt Regency London Stratford will offer business and leisure travellers alike a stress-free and seamless environment to stay connected. Guests can enjoy 628m² of meeting space, along with a spacious restaurant, bar and an open-air terrace. Hyatt House London Stratford will provide guests with modern, apartment-style suites with fully equipped kitchens and flexible workspaces, designed to make them feel at home, especially during extended stays.

 

The hotels are located close to Stratford Station, one of the UK’s busiest train stations, giving guests swift access to Central London in only seven minutes. Stratford International Station connects guests to St Pancras International Station and transfers to the Eurostar train, which provides services to Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

 

The properties will also be easily accessible to Heathrow International Airport via the new Queen Elizabeth Crossrail line due to open mid-2022, which will offer services to Stratford in approximately 45 minutes. Furthermore, London City Airport is only 20 minutes from Stratford on the Docklands Light Railway, making it an ideal location for business and leisure guests.

 

“We are pleased to be able to continue our work with Hyatt in the United Kingdom,” said Neil Maxwell, chief executive officer of M&L Hospitality. “Our strategy focuses on identifying key gateway cities with strong economic growth. Stratford is experiencing a real boom and our plans to introduce these Hyatt House and Hyatt Regency hotels to London will capitalize on this.”

 

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Inside three new chalets for sale in Les Gets ski resort

Voice Of EU

Published

on

After France reopened its borders to British travellers, there was a huge sigh of relief among British skiers.

The French Alps are the number one skiing destination for Britons and many feel it’s high time to get back on the slopes and enjoy the mountains once again. 

One location that’s very popular with British holidaymakers and second home buyers is the smaller resort of Les Gets in the French Alps. It is is only an hour’s drive from Geneva Airport – making it the perfect destination for British skiers and snowboarders looking for easy access to the Alps. 

You can leave your desk at 5pm on a Friday evening and be in the resort that night. That kind of easy access will leave some dreaming of a property, so that they can make the most of their holidays and perhaps squeeze in a few more.   

British holidaymakers can once again travel to France after the country eased Covid restrictions

British holidaymakers can once again travel to France after the country eased Covid restrictions

We take a look at a development of three properties for sale in the French ski resort of Les Gets (pictured)

We take a look at a development of three properties for sale in the French ski resort of Les Gets (pictured)

new development of just three chalets being built in Les Gets features the kind of homes many skiers would love, but the price tags starting at more than £1.5million will be beyond the reach of many.

The prices reflect how Les Gets popularity, accessibility and limited supply of properties mean there is huge demand for holiday homes in the area.

You will need deep pockets if you want to own a home in Les Gets. But the builders of this development are keen to stress that the properties are ‘keenly priced’ for the local property market. 

The four-bedroom chalets spanning across three levels are available via skiingproperty.com from €1,848,000 euros, the equivalent of £1,536,762. It is rare to find a whole chalet in the area for less than €2million, the equivalent of £1,670,890.

However, it is possible to buy in Les Gets on smaller budgets, if you are happy to have an apartment instead of a chalet. As we highlight below, good quality apartments can be bought for around the £300,000 mark. 

The chalets can be found on the Route des Chavannes, a two-minute drive from the main Chavannes ski lifts, although skiers can take the Gentian piste down to the Gibannaz area and walk just 300 metres to the front door of the chalets.

The luxury chalets are each sold as freehold and if the new owners want to rent them out, they do so under their own arrangements once purchased.

The freehold chalets in Les Gets have yet to be completed (pictured: computer generated images of what the properties will look like once they are finished)

The freehold chalets in Les Gets have yet to be completed (pictured: computer generated images of what the properties will look like once they are finished)

Les Gets (pictured) is popular among British skiers and snowboarders in the winter, and keen mountain bike riders and hikers in the summer

Les Gets (pictured) is popular among British skiers and snowboarders in the winter, and keen mountain bike riders and hikers in the summer

Les Gets is a ski resort that is part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski network, one of the world’s largest that links 13 different villages including Morzine and Avoriaz

Les Gets is a ski resort that is part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski network, one of the world’s largest that links 13 different villages including Morzine and Avoriaz

Les Gets is popular among British skiers and snowboarders in the winter, as well as keen mountain bike riders and hikers in the summer.

The ski resort is part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski network, one of the world’s largest that links 13 different villages including Morzine, Avoriaz and Chalet on the French side and Champéry, Les Crosets and Morgins on the Swiss side.

During the summer, the bike park at Les Gets offers one of the largest network of mountain biking trails for all levels in the Alps.

There are also several famous mountain passes – known as ‘cols’ – that are often used during sections of the Tour de France cycling race.

Les Gets can be reached from Geneva Airport in around one hour by car and it is also one of the closest major ski resorts that can be reached by car from Britain.

Les Gets can be reached from Geneva Airport in around one hour by car and it is also one of the closest major ski resorts that can be reached by car from Britain

Les Gets can be reached from Geneva Airport in around one hour by car and it is also one of the closest major ski resorts that can be reached by car from Britain

An artists impression of what the interiors of the chalets could look like

An artists impression of what the interiors of the chalets could look like 

The new build chalets have four double bedrooms, three bathrooms and 314 square metres of living space.

They extend across three floors, with ensuite bathrooms for the two bedrooms on the top floor and a shared bathroom for the two bedrooms on the lower floor. The top floor bedrooms also have balconies with mountains views.

The main floor includes two separate living areas and an open plan kitchen. There is a large balcony, a private garden and a garage.

Les Gets is well-known for its family appeal, and this four-bedroom property is ideal for families looking for winter and summer holiday accommodation in the French Alps.

Because the property is being sold as a classic freehold, the owners can choose to live in the property or use it as a holiday home. They can also choose the rent the property out when they are not using it.

Prices for the four-bed chalets start at €1,848,000 euros, the equivalent of £1,536,762

Prices for the four-bed chalets start at €1,848,000 euros, the equivalent of £1,536,762

During winter, Mont Chery offers some hidden off-piste skiing mostly known only to locals

During winter, Mont Chery offers some hidden off-piste skiing mostly known only to locals

Les Gets flats for sale under £400k 

This one-bed flat is in La Turche neighbourhood

This one-bed is in the La Turche neighbourhood

Les Gets also offers properties for sale for those with a smaller budget.

Properties currently for sale include a one-bedroom apartment for sale via skiingproperty.com, which has a price tag of £391,011. 

It is part of a new-build block of 21 apartments, each with their own balcony.

The ski-in ski-out flat is in the La Turche neighbourhood, which is just five minutes away by car.

This two-bed apartment is just 200 metres from the ski lift in Les Perrieres

This two-bed apartment is just 200 metres from the ski lift in Les Perrieres

Also available is a two-bed apartment that is just 200 metres from the ski lift in Les Perrieres, at the entrance Les Gets ski resort.

The traditional style new build flat is on the market via skiingproperty.com for £310,936.

The pretty resort of Les Gets is a traditional Alpine village with classic chalet style accommodation.

During the summer, the network of hiking trails is vast. The cable car to Mont Chery offers incredible views of Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, and the easy trail from the cable car station to Mont Caly offers some of the best views in the Alps. 

Recommended lunch venues include Les Chevrelles, a pretty farmhouse restaurant at the end of the walk, it is then possible to take the ‘petit train’ back to the village centre.

During winter, Mont Chery offers some hidden off-piste skiing mostly known only to locals.

La Grande Ourse is a mountain restaurant on the slopes of Mont Chery where the British owners – and chef – organise weekly dinners where they will bring diners up in cat track vehicles. The fantastic food is known throughout the area and it’s popular with both British and French guests.

The three chalets for sale are unfurnished. As a new build property, the buyer will benefit from a lower notary fee of 2 per cent – resale properties have much higher fees of 7 to 8 per cent -, allowing for further savings.

In the future, if the owner decides to rent out their chalet when they are not using it, they can reclaim the 20 per cent VAT from the property purchase price, providing that certain conditions are met.

We are open and ready to welcome British skiers and snowboarders back to our slopes for the rest of the winter 

Julian Walker, of skiingproperty.com, said: ‘This is a rare opportunity to purchase a new chalet in a resort that normally sees prices for similar properties well in excess of €2million. Les Gets is a great summer and winter destination and just an hour’s drive from Geneva Airport, making it an attractive offering for families. The past two summers have seen record numbers of visitors in the resort as people flock to the mountain for the fresh air and space’. 

And Les Gets’ tourist office director Alexis Bongard, said: ‘We are delighted that the French Government has finally lifted these border restrictions that impacted Les Gets so badly, and of course created so much stress and worry for British people heading here. 

‘We are open and ready to welcome British skiers and snowboarders back to our slopes for the rest of the winter, it felt very strange without you here.’ 

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Varakar says law on right to seek remote working can ‘change the culture’

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that a proposed law giving people the right to request remote working arrangements will mean employers are more likely to grant them for fear of being brought to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Mr Varadkar said he believes the legislation can “change the culture” and that employers will embrace it.

The general scheme of a Bill to provide for remote working will be brought to the Cabinet on Tuesday by Minister for Enterprise Mr Varadkar. It will set out a legal framework whereby an employer can either approve or reject a request to work remotely from an employee.

Under the plans – which Mr Varadkar hopes to have enacted in the next couple of months – there will be an independent appeals process through the WRC.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the outline of the legislation Mr Varadkar said it will require employers to take a request seriously, to respond within a defined timeframe and “to give a good reason that actually stacks up if they were challenged.”

He added: “It can change the culture and move the dial so that employers will be more likely to say yes for fear of being taken to the WRC or to court if they say no.”

Embrace

Mr Varadkar predicted that “the vast majority of employers are going to embrace this.”

He added: “Everyone sees the benefits of home working/remote working – reduced traffic, reduced crowding in office spaces and also it’s very much an employees’ market at the moment.

“Employers are finding it really hard to hire staff and retain staff and it makes sense I think if you’re an employer or running a business to embrace new models of working because that’s how you’re going to get staff. It’s also how you’re going to keep staff.”

The Labour Party has argued that the Government’s plans will not go far enough with employment spokeswoman Senator Maire Sherlock saying the Government must guarantee the right to flexible work.

Mr Varadkar said the Bill won’t do this.

He said there was a lot of work done with the Attorney General and “Government can only interfere in contracts that employers and employees have signed to a certain extent.”

He also pointed out that remote working isn’t always going to be possible.

“It’s going to be very difficult to do in education, in healthcare, in manufacturing, hospitality for example.

“What we want to do is get to a position whereby remote working/home working becomes a choice and that employers facilitate that provided the business gets done and provided public services don’t suffer.”

Important day

Mr Varadkar said that Monday – the start of the phased return to workplaces – “is an important day as we learn to live with Covid, as we move from the emergency phase into a phase where we return to some semblance of normality.”

He said that the Government does not want things to go back to the old normal.

“We want to see more remote working, more home working, more hybrid working”.

Mr Varadkar said that there was a meeting of Government officials, unions and employer groups on Monday and it was agreed that there will be a new work safety protocol that will offer guidelines on the return to work over the coming weeks.

He said: “We’ll try to make permanent some of those things that were always a good idea in a work place such as good air quality to reduce the risk of the transmission of viruses, hygiene, avoiding overcrowding and that work is very much underway”.

He expects the updated protocol to be published by the end of the week.

Mr Varadkar was also asked about plans for an inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and he said the Government have to discuss what form it will take.

He said no decision has been made on the model of the inquiry but “ it is important that we have one that allows us to learn the lessons.

“Relative to other countries Ireland handled the pandemic well – I think everyone acknowledges that when you look at the numbers.

“But we didn’t get everything right either and I think it’s important that we have an inquiry that is not about blaming people or pointing the finger but is about working out what we did right, what we wrong and what we could do better so that we’re prepared if there is a resurgence in the virus or if there is a pandemic caused for a different reason.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!