brand-new best practice guide has been launched for managing defects in
new-build affordable housing.
The Getting it Right guide – available
free at www.seddon.co.uk/downloads/Getting-It-Right-Defect-Guide.pdf- has been produced by national affordable housing developer Seddon and housing
strategy specialist 3Dk Solutions. Designed to help registered providers,
contractors and managing agents deal with defects in new-build homes more
efficiently, it was developed through focus groups and consultations with
director Nicola Hodkinson says: "Ideally, contractors should get it right first
time on every job. But we have to be realistic and recognise that it is also essential
to have an effective system in place for dealing with defects.
the process is not managed well, it can cause huge stress and frustration for
tenants - and potentially cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in both
materials and time for registered providers, contractors and managing agents.”
guide’s advice includes:
- Ensure open, honest and effective
communication between registered providers, contractors and tenants
- Help tenants understand how their home
works by providing them with simple, concise Home User Guides and showing them
how to operate boiler controls and devices such as flow restrictors. Brief
registered provider management teams, direct labour organisations and call
centre staff too so they can advise tenants.
- Link key performance indicators for
defects management to customer satisfaction and monitor them regularly
- Clearly define what is and isn’t a
defect. Seddon’s own experience is that one in three reported defects turned
out not to belong in the defects category. Often routine repairs or even something
as simple as a failed light bulb or tripped power switch are reported as
- Call centre staff should be helped to
understand what a defect is (as opposed to a maintenance issue or a problem
caused by another factor) and gather as much information as possible from
tenants to ensure that contractors are not called out unnecessarily.
- Contractors should aim for zero
defects on all jobs and continually work to improve performance by analysing
why defects have occurred and seeking to eliminate them on future jobs.
- Contractors should communicate with
tenants at every stage of dealing with a defect and offer residents a wide
range of appointment times to avoid access problems.
- Providers should also work with
tenants to help them understand that some common problems are not dealt with
through the defects process. For example, settlement cracks are usually dealt
with at the end of the defect liability period.
- Registered providers should consider
having a trained ‘defects specialist’ who can help other staff, analyse any
patterns in reported defects and work with contractors to identify solutions.
Bojar, interim director of development at Great Places, welcomed the guide,
calling it "simple, comprehensive and a good tool for the future”.
director Nicola Hodkinson says: "Moving into a brand-new home should be a
positive and happy experience. The Getting
it Right guide is available for all contractors and registered providers
and sets out ideas for ensuring that new home defects are dealt with
effectively and efficiently, at a time when it’s perhaps never been more
essential for the industry to deliver value for money.”