Blog: A site manager’s guide to five-star housebuilding

Barratt Homes’ Mill Brae development

Barratt Homes’ Mill Brae development

A home is likely to be the biggest purchase a person will ever make. As such, it’s perfectly understandable that buyers will want every assurance their home is the quality investment they’ve worked so long and hard for.

Launched in 2005 as part of its national survey of house builders, the Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) Star Rating Scheme is a renowned industry benchmark, and an effective and nationally recognised means of identifying quality house builders when searching for a new home.

By awarding stars for the level of customer satisfaction achieved, the scheme gives buyers a clear indication of the quality and customer service standards they can expect from house builders in their area. It also encourages house builders to deliver excellence by setting a competitive standard to aim for.

Demonstrating the award-winning housebuilder’s commitment to the scheme, Barratt Homes has been a five-star housebuilder for eight consecutive years. One of its shining stars is Mill Brae site manager, David Oliver, whose dedication to delivering quality has earned him several Pride in the Job awards from the NHBC over his long career.

Here, David describes five things you can expect from a quality housebuilder worthy of the five star accolade:

Dave Oliver

Dave Oliver

A quality product 

A housebuilder can only secure a five star rating by earning a consistently high score in the national survey of housebuilders. This means that customers must be satisfied with every aspect of the buying experience, and most importantly, the product itself.

By constantly striving to maintain its longstanding five star rating, we operate a comprehensive sign-off process to ensure each home is finished to HBF’s exacting standards. This means that each time a home is handed over to a new owner, it inspected personally by a company director.

We also work closely with our suppliers to ensure each home is fitted with the highest quality fixtures and fittings available. In recent years, we have developed partnerships with numerous quality brands and manufacturers.

An excellent customer service approach

It doesn’t matter how fantastic a property is if a house builder isn’t willing to go that extra mile to provide a supportive and effective sales process. Bad service leaves its mark and is rarely forgotten, especially when customers are asked about their experience by the HBF.

Most reputable housebuilders follow the Consumer Code for Home Builders, which was introduced in 2010 to inform buyers on what they should expect from their builder. You can find out more here: www.consumercodeforhomebuilders.com.

Barratt Homes has taken this one step further by developing its own Customer Care Charter in addition to observing the Consumer Code. This ten-point plan, which puts customers first, outlines the guidance provided to home buyers through every stage of the process. This includes:

  • a 2-year emergency call-out cover for all homeowners
  • a 2-year warranty covering central heating, appliances, windows and kitchen units
  • a success test to ensure that every plot is signed off against a 20-point checklist
  • director inspection and sign off of every new home and follow up phone call to ensure that customers are happy with both the product and service provided
  • in-home demonstrations of all appliances and features
  • a quality control procedure, utilising the skills of staff across all levels and disciplines

Customer care improvements within the Charter are discussed and evaluated weekly by the Barratt Homes board of directors and regular seminars are arranged for sales, construction and customer service teams to continually build on the quality of service provided.

The right people

By investing in their people, house builders can engender a culture of pride, enthusiasm and passion for their product amongst staff. This reflects positively on the quality of the homes produced and the service provided to customers. Five star builders are more likely to invest in their staff and reward good practice, giving customers the confidence that they will be dealing with a skilled, personable and knowledgeable team.

Barratt Homes is committed to developing its workforce and offering employees, like me, the opportunity to develop new skills and progress their careers. In recent years, we have been highly commended in the category of Best Employer at the 2015 Homes for Scotland Awards, and this year we were named Housebuilder of the Year.

One of our celebrated programmes is the Barratt Academy, to which we look to appoint over apprentices across Scotland every year, giving everyone from school leavers and graduates to ex-armed forces personnel and career changers the chance to break into the lucrative construction industry.

Protection

Customers are more likely to rate their builder highly if they feel their investment is protected. Most major house builders will offer a 10 year warranty through the NHBC, which not only puts the buyer at ease, but also the lender – having NHBC certification can be essential for some lenders to rubber stamp a mortgage application.

In addition to the 10 year warranty provided through the NHBC, Barratt Homes’ properties also come with an exclusive two year warranty, covering everything from appliances and interior fittings to central heating and brickwork.

An active participant in the community

In order to build homes that people want to buy and live in, it’s important that house builders create a sense of place when planning and designing new developments. In order to do this successfully, they need to have a strong understanding of the local community, its needs and its expectations.

By engaging with local residents and contributing to community life, house builders are more likely to understand customers’ aspirations and how to provide a more satisfying product.

Barratt Homes has delivered numerous stand-out projects by working with the communities it serves. Most notably, through its work with city stakeholders during the planning and design of Westburn Gardens in Aberdeen, we have delivered a truly ambitious development offering a range of homes that suit the needs and budgets of local people.

What’s more, Barratt Homes has worked closely with community groups like Brighter Bucksburn to help them secure accolades and awards from the likes of Beautiful Scotland for creating attractive environments that local people can be proud of.

Barratt Homes is currently developing homes across the North of Scotland, including Ness Castle in Inverness, Ocean, Westburn Gardens, Riverside Quarter and Allan Park in Aberdeen and several Aberdeenshire communities such as Newmachar, Kemnay, Inverurie and Bridge of Don.