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A question of quality - 28 September, BRE, Watford

Quality is a highly subjective term; one person’s idea of quality is another’s idea of mediocrity or worse. You love strawberry creams? You can have ‘em.

But clearly notions of quality in the context of new housing are more clear-cut than one's choice of confectionery; no homebuyer is going to be happy that their newly built house has ill-fitting doors or a faulty roof that starts leaking six months into their purchase. Yet these are examples of complaints that Oliver Colvile MP has received from constituents who have bought newbuilds.

Colvile is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Excellence in the Built Environment, which has recently published a report entitled ‘More homes, fewer complaints’ in the wake of an inquiry that took evidence from housebuilders, insurers, consumer groups, and homebuyers.

Clearly, notions of quality in new housing are more clear-cut than one's choice of confectionery. Among the recommendation for government and industry was the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman to mediate in disputes between consumers and their builders or warranty providers and that government and local authorities should make training that embeds quality as a pre-condition on the sale of public land.

The report calls for “zero-defect construction” but in the drive to build more houses, is there a case for going beyond that, through say the adoption of more sustainable design and the use of more responsibly sourced materials? And should developers embrace energy efficiency as a way to differentiate themselves in a crowded market?

Consumer surveys suggest that house buyers would pay a premium for more quality and sustainability but can developers ensure a return on investment through design and improved delivery?

These questions will be explored at Build4Quality, which takes place on 28 September, featuring developers, housebuilders, architects and consultants.

When: 28 September, 2016

Where: BRE, Bucknalls Lane, Watford WD25 9XX, UK

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