Consumers are twice as likely to be satisfied with SME-built homes, rather than those built by a larger volume company, revealed new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). This further fuels the debate about the quality of mainstream new-builds.
The study focused on the satisfaction rates among people who had bought a new home within the past five years from a range of mainstream and small and medium-sized enterprise builders.
Examining the survey responses of 2,000 UK home owners, the FMB’s research found that only 17% of those who chose a property built by one of the UK’s 20 large building companies were ‘very satisfied’ with their new home. This is compared to the responses of SME-built homeowners, of which the satisfaction rate was 36%.
The FMB’s Chief Executive, Brian Berry, suggested that the results highlight that SME builders, who are often based in the community in which they work, are doubly motivated to deliver high-quality homes, since they rely on word-of-mouth for business. By hiring small teams of broadly-skilled, experienced tradespeople they can maintain their reputation and compete with larger companies.
In recent years the UK home building sector has faced criticism for the poor quality of many of its finished homes, with residential developer Bovis Homes, being forced to pay £7 million in damages to disgruntled buyers after their homes were found to have fundamental issues as, reported in The Guardian recently.
The FMB hopes that this new research might improve the image of the UK’s building sector, encouraging consumers to work with SME builders. Yet it suggests that it’s vital that all building companies put quality first, giving faith back to purchasers and encouraging planning teams to push through new developments.
Berry commented: “There is a popular misconception that new build homes are poor quality compared to period properties that were built to last. Small local house builders, who hang their hat on delivering high-quality new build homes, find this view immensely frustrating.
“Our research shows that you are twice as likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of your new home if it was built by an SME house builder, as opposed to one of the large top 20 firms. This research draws a clear distinction between what is being delivered by SMEs and what is being delivered by larger firms.”
The FMB is the UK’s largest trade association for the construction industry and represents thousands of building firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The association was created in the 1940’s to protect the interests of SME construction firms. It recently won the accolade of In-House Team of the Year at the Public Affairs Awards 2017, for its lobbying on behalf of small building firms.
Words: Jen Grimble
This news is hardly surprising, given the increased dissatisfaction with the products of many of volume builders. Small and medium-enterprises have a more local approach and greater attention to detail, as Berry explained.
But with 80% of SME builders having disappeared in the last 30 years there’s a supply issue here. But Government is aware of this, so White Paper support and increased finance options and greater planning support, as evidenced in the Autumn Budget, should see a renaissance for small builders. And custom build represents a gold opportunity for growth.
I’m keen to follow this dynamic sector over the coming year to see if they can replace some of the lost companies of yesteryear.