Leading construction solicitor warns consumers need more protection in wake of cladding crisis

9th March 2021

The New Homes Quality Board has recently been formed to put the New Homes Ombudsman Service into place. A leading Scottish construction solicitor has urged the Board to give the Ombudsman wide regulatory powers and include consumers who instruct works to refurbish, redesign or extend their existing homes.

The intention is that the Ombudsman will ensure developers provide good-quality new build homes, through the introduction and enforcement of a new industry code of practice. However, Ross Taylor, construction law specialist at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, believes additional steps must be taken to adequately protect consumers.

Ross said: “While I welcome the formation of the New Homes Quality Board, and believe it’s a positive step, I think more needs to be done to protect all consumers – not solely those who are buying new build homes.

“Of course, it’s essential that new build properties are of a high quality, but we must also ensure consumers are protected against the poor workmanship of rogue builders carrying out works on existing buildings.

“Take the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower for example – this was not a new build, and the cladding was installed during renovation works which took place a year or so before. This incident has really brought the issue of housing standards to the fore, and the cladding crisis continues to rumble on many years later.

“However, I also think this demonstrates why it’s so important for the scope of regulation in the construction industry to be widened if we truly want to protect consumers.”

In 2019, Ross supported a proposal from Graham Simpson MSP of a New Build (Buyer Protection) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament, which included standardised new build missives, and a statutory route to redress.

Ross continued: “Not only did I support the proposed Bill – I also argued that the eventual Act should go even further, in order to give better protection for homeowners.

“I believe a simple solution to the rogue builder could be incorporated into a future Bill, requiring any builder who undertakes works under contract to a residential occupier to have insurance which the homeowner can call upon for the remediation of defective works in the event of the builder’s insolvency.”

It is as much in the interests of the construction sector that this happens, so that high quality building is achieved in a streamlined way across the UK, and the UK construction sector is protected against rogue developers.

For more information on WJM and its services visit www.wjm.co.uk.

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