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It’s not customer service they're doing, it’s claims management

It's not customer service they're doing...

Your housebuilder will generally owe you contractual and/or statutory obligations in relation to the design and construction of your new home.

If they breach those obligations, the normal position in law is that you would be entitled to sue them for damages. In simple terms, ‘damages’ means the amount of money you would need to put you in the position you would have been had the relevant obligation been performed. For construction defects, that usually means cost of repair plus incidental costs such as alternative accommodation.

Housebuilders usually offer you alternatives to suing them (after-sales ‘customer care’ procedures, new home warranties, Consumer Code dispute resolution scheme etc.). On the face of it, these alternatives are preferable to engaging in court action or procuring your own works and underpin the basis on which most new homes are bought and sold. However, the same underlying legal principles apply when using these alternative schemes. IT’S NOT CUSTOMER SERVICE THEY’RE DOING, IT’S CLAIMS MANAGEMENT.

All these alternative redress schemes have this in common: they are designed and run by the industry itself to serve their ends not yours, with predictably poor outcomes for homeowners. A common feature is that they keep you at a disadvantage by deterring you from investing in your own advice so they can make all the decisions.

Imagine going to court without evidence or legal representation where the opponent also sits as the judge and decides things in private without giving you reasons. In effect, that is what happens when you use their alternative redress schemes on their terms.

If you are struggling to get defects in your new home put right through the 'normal channels' of the housebuilder's after-sales customer care procedures or by claiming on your new home warranty, it is because they are making all the decisions without reference to you and because their interests are diametrically opposed to yours. If you let the defendant decide the outcome of your claim, you are going to lose.

If you want to do better, you need to take a different approach. We show you how to do that in the most affordable, cost-effective and efficient way possible. Their schemes are free to use and work against you. Our approach is not free, but it is affordable and it works for you. Spend nothing, get nothing. Spend a little, get a lot.

Key legal principles for getting defects put right

The following principles apply when seeking to get construction defects and other problems resolved, whether you use the housebuilder’s ‘after-sales customer care’ procedures, make a claim on your new home warranty, or sue the housebuilder in court:

  1. The burden of proof is on you as claimant to prove your claim.
  1. To do this, you need to know what obligation has been breached (not always straightforward) and you need proper evidence of that breach (such as a surveyor's report).
  1. You also need to prove what should be done to put things right (e.g. a formal scope of works) and unless the opponent is doing the works at its own cost, you need a formal valuation of the cost of repair (e.g. a bill of quantities).
  1. Without evidence of what is wrong and how to put it right, the defendant will decide the outcome of your claim, and you’ll lose. Engaging with them on their terms means letting them decide the outcome.

Having good quality, reliable evidence of construction defects and related problems is a vital first step towards proving your claim and getting things put right properly. It will give you the confidence to stand your ground during direct negotiations thereby giving you a better chance of getting a fairer outcome. If they still don’t put things right, you are ready to take the next steps in the process, namely drawing up a scope of works and getting the claim valued in order to start a court claim.

This will not be lost on the housebuilder or warranty provider, which is why having a good quality evidence of construction defects in the first place makes it more likely they will deal with things without you having to sue them.

We help you get the right evidence in the right format at the right cost and present it in the right way to ensure the best possible outcome, saving you time, frustration, disappointment and the sense of 'being had' that often accompanies using theirschemes on their terms.

Sign up to access our full website content and to apply for membership. Membership is your gateway to accessing our national network of specialist sureyors, lawyers and other property professionals whose advice and support is essential to getting the right outcome.

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