Providing the quality homes the country needs

The head of corporate affairs at Barratt Developments looks at how the country’s biggest housebuilder is achieving in quality rather than just quantity

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While there is no doubt that our country needs more homes to tackle the historic undersupply we have had over the last few decades, it is vital that as the number of homes we build increases, the quality of those homes does not suffer. There is a massive focus from consumers, the media and politicians on the quality of newbuild homes. As a result, our industry is rightly under scrutiny and we have to respond positively.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of new homeowners are happy, according to the annual industry customer satisfaction survey published by the Home Builders Federation (HBF). The HBF survey asks all customers who have bought a new home whether they would recommend their builder to a friend. More than
87 per cent would, a 1 per cent increase on last year’s results a second successive year of improvement, underlining housebuilders’ commitment to high standards, quality and customer service.

But as the country’s largest and best known housebuilder, Barratt Developments is absolutely committed to leading the way on quality and customer service. This year it built nearly 18,000 much-needed homes across the country whilst also receiving the top rating of five stars in the HBF survey. For Barratt to be awarded five stars means that more than 90 per cent of its customers are happy to recommend their home.

This is now the tenth year in a row that Barratt has been awarded five stars, a record none of its competitors comes close to.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “Getting a positive endorsement from the people who buy and live in the homes they build has to be the number one priority for a successful homebuilder. Delivering such high levels of customer satisfaction should provide customers with real confidence in the company and the homes that they build.”

The HBF customer satisfaction survey is one of the largest surveys of its type in the country, with 50,000 new owners completing it each year. The simple star rating was developed to make it easier for people to properly understand which UK housebuilders have the most satisfied customers.

David Thomas, chief executive of Barratt Developments, commented: “Our vision is to lead the future of housebuilding by putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. So for us the release of the HBF customer satisfaction survey is one of the most important dates in the calendar and the scores are a real marker for us as a business. We are enormously proud to be the only major national housebuilder to be rated as five-star for the past decade and will continue to work as hard as we can to keep our customers satisfied.”

More independent endorsement of the quality homes that Barratt builds comes from the National House Building Council (NHBC) in its annual Pride in the Job Quality awards. The Pride in the Job Quality awards recognise the best-run building sites in the country and are the highest accolade a site manager can achieve.

This year 84 site managers from Barratt won one of these prestigious awards, known as the “Oscars of the housebuilding industry”. This is the 15th year in a row that Barratt has won more of these quality accolades than every other housebuilder.

In addition to spot checks from the NHBC, site managers are judged on their consistency, attention to detail, leadership, technical expertise and health and safety, with just 450 individual winners being chosen from over 16,000 entrants.

Steven Boyes, chief operating officer at Barratt, talked about this year’s achievement: “These awards recognise only the very best new homes and well run sites. They are something that customers can look out for as a quality mark knowing their home has been built to the highest standard possible. To win more of these awards than any other housebuilder for 15 years in a row is a real point of difference which shows how committed we are to building high-quality homes for our customers.”

When it comes to ensuring customer satisfaction in new homes, quality isn’t the only watchword. So is good design. And not just of the house but the wider neighbourhood and community too. This is why Barratt is proud to have won more Built for Life accreditations (71, including 17 named as outstanding) than the rest of the industry put together. A development that has been awarded Built for Life status is a sign of a good place to live with well-designed properties in a really friendly and attractive neighbourhood.

The scheme involves measuring new developments against 12 stringent criteria such as car parking, safe streets and access to amenities. Put simply, a Built for Life development should offer a higher quality of life and be a better long term investment. Demand for homes is stronger and people tend to stay longer in Built for Life developments.

As Nigel Longstaff, urban design director at Barratt, commented: “Right from the very outset we decided that great design matters. Which is why our own Great Places design standards mirror the Building for Life 12 principles, which promote great design on every one of our schemes.

“Our focus on design means we don’t just build houses, but also build great places where people really want to live and to be part of a community. This is about leaving a positive legacy and we’re extremely proud of the design work we do as a company.”

To mark all of these awards celebrating the quality of its homes, Barratt and homelessness charity St Mungo’s have just launched a major new £500,000 partnership to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness and expand St Mungo’s innovative gardening programme, Putting Down Roots.

Putting Down Roots provides vocational horticulture training for people experiencing homelessness in London and Bristol. Students are supported by trainers to develop skills in a variety of garden techniques in public parks, community gardens and allotments across the two cities.

Since it began in 1958, Barratt has built more than 450,000 high-quality new homes across England, Scotland and Wales and it remains committed to leading the industry in quality and customer service as it helps tackle the country’s housing shortage.