British Homes - The embarrassing truth

Soldato
Joined
30 Sep 2005
Posts
14,647
It wasn't that long ago that Britain was well known for it's high quality, well built homes. The running joke was that the world was made up of something along the lines of....

Cars - German
Food/Wine - French
Electronics - Japan
Movies - America
Houses - Britain
Flat Pack Furniture - Sweden
..and so on

We were well known for it, so what's happened?

My family home growing up was a 1970s barker. Huge front and back garden, decent driveway, walls made of brick, water pressure which could literally blast you out of the bath, real floorboards. There was of course the odd drawbacks. Small third/fourth bedroom, lack of electrical sockets etc etc but the build was without question.

The first house we moved into was built in the early 00s and was pretty decent. It still had front and rear gardens (albeit a bit smaller), the walls were plasterboard, chipboard flooring, plastic plumbing etc etc but the build was still fairly good and we enjoyed our time there.

Our second house was built in 2008 and still fairly decent, with perhaps a slight quality downgrade on our last. There is no front garden, a tiny rear garden...and everything seems to have been done on the cheap, but at least the actual house itself wis ok (and by that I mean a gust of wind probably wouldn't blow it down). The locations perfect for us, and all things considered we've been happy for the last 13 years.

I'm not complaining about any of the houses we've been in. We feel we made the right decision. They've all be great homes.

We're now about ready to move. By that, I mean we're starting to look around whilst keeping our eyes on what's going on with covid, brexit etc etc. Could be a couple of years still yet, but we're starting to pay attention.

Prior to lockdown we went to see a number of new build properties as on paper they looked perfect. Great location, good plot size (at least on the plan), ideal layout and all the rest of it.

Here's one we had our eye on:

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/83216137#/media?id=media2

In total we viewed three, from three different developers.

WOW! What the hell has happened since 2008?

They are complete, and total JUNK!

1. The sales lady had to do a little run up, elbowing the front door open. She said they are all like that and needed a little force. She made light of it.

2. The house has been fitted with light grey carpets, which were a mud bath. The workmen had walked all over the carpets with their muddy boots. She said this is what happends in new builds and they have a cleaning lady which gives them a deep clean before the sale.

3. Woodwork is the absolute cheapest you can buy. The door frames, doors and skirting boards are terrible. I asked when the house was going to be painted, and she said it already had :eek: A super thin layer of paint brushed on leaving streaks and drips. The light fittings, door hinges and spotlights were also covered in paint.

4. The internal walls shake. Literally, you can push them with your hands and the entire wall will shake and move.

5. Kitchen is symphony. The cheapest on the market. Wonky doors, two cupboards for actual food/pots and a chipped worktop.

6. Bathroom is made by Roca. Cheap crap.

7. The garage roof was about 6ft. I'm 5ft 10 and felt like I was going to hit my head on the wooden beams. She said the garages are quite low down. Then there's the issue with actually getting to the garage. You seem to have to drive over your neighbours drive to get to it.

8. New build developments are all subject to a yearly mainteance fee? £16 a month. Something to do with councils no longer looking after the roads.

9. Internet has to be from a supplier on the OFNL network? Twice as expensive as Virgin/Sky

10. Outside didn't feel me with much confidence either. Looking around I honestly wouldn't be surprised if some of the houses started to fall down. They look like they have literally been slung up in an afternoon.

The other thing I noticed, was how reluctant the sales staff were to actually sell you a house. Pretty much every sentence started with Sorry we can't do that or No, that's not possible. It was take it or leave it, as there's plenty of other customers wanting to buy. They kinda have a point.

Is there anyone building nice homes these days?

I'm not asking people to tell me to just go and buy an older house. That's obvious. This post is trying to make sense of what's happened to the quality of our houses. We've gone from building some really great ones, to building some....which I reckon, could probably be equalled with a good £5,000 worth of lego and a couple of pots of superglue.

It was a shock to be honest. I'd heard the jokes online and thought people were going a bit overboard with how bad they are. Jeez....they really are. I mean, they are really bad.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
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20,018
Location
Екатеринбург
It’s the tradesmen who build them. I’ve had a couple of new builds and viewed many more. The quality was highly variable, even with the same builders. Having discussed it with many people I have concluded that it all comes down to the local site. Some are good and some are crap. If the site employs the lowest bidder then the quality at that site seems to suffer. Some sites pitch themselves a bit higher (usually reflected in price) and hire trades who work to a higher standard. For example, I looked at a basic Bellway house (semi-rural Hampshire, 4 bed detached) some years ago and it matches your description. Complete crap. More recently I looked at a Bellway house on a more exclusive development, priced at least double that of the prior one, and the quality was very high. I’m not talking about soft furnishing and eye candy either, mostly the quality of the finish and construction.

I’m not in the trades so it could all be a load of guff, but it is what I have deduced from my conversations.
 
Soldato
OP
Joined
30 Sep 2005
Posts
14,647
It’s the tradesmen who build them. I’ve had a couple of new builds and viewed many more. The quality was highly variable, even with the same builders. Having discussed it with many people I have concluded that it all comes down to the local site. Some are good and some are crap. If the site employs the lowest bidder then the quality at that site seems to suffer. Some sites pitch themselves a bit higher (usually reflected in price) and hire trades who work to a higher standard. For example, I looked at a basic Bellway house (semi-rural Hampshire, 4 bed detached) some years ago and it matches your description. Complete crap. More recently I looked at a Bellway house on a more exclusive development, priced at least double that of the prior one, and the quality was very high. I’m not talking about soft furnishing and eye candy either, mostly the quality of the finish and construction.

I’m not in the trades so it could all be a load of guff, but it is what I have deduced from my conversations.

There are people who view houses from another development, then buy at another one off plan :eek:
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Mar 2010
Posts
10,623
I think a lot of it comes down to the quality of the local contracters.

Most of these large house builders usually just hire local trades, they'll do as basic of a job as they can get away with. Unfortunately that results in shoddy workmanship.

I would say for a new build you're normally better off going with a smaller independent house builder where they'll usually have their own tradespeople.
 
Associate
Joined
27 Aug 2003
Posts
2,063
It wasn't that long ago that Britain was well known for it's high quality, well built homes. The running joke was that the world was made up of something along the lines of....

Cars - German
Food/Wine - French
Electronics - Japan
Movies - America
Houses - Britain
Flat Pack Furniture - Sweden
..and so on

We were well known for it, so what's happened?

My family home growing up was a 1970s barker. Huge front and back garden, decent driveway, walls made of brick, water pressure which could literally blast you out of the bath, real floorboards. There was of course the odd drawbacks. Small third/fourth bedroom, lack of electrical sockets etc etc but the build was without question.

The first house we moved into was built in the early 00s and was pretty decent. It still had front and rear gardens (albeit a bit smaller), the walls were plasterboard, chipboard flooring, plastic plumbing etc etc but the build was still fairly good and we enjoyed our time there.

Our second house was built in 2008 and still fairly decent, with perhaps a slight quality downgrade on our last. There is no front garden, a tiny rear garden...and everything seems to have been done on the cheap, but at least the actual house itself wis ok (and by that I mean a gust of wind probably wouldn't blow it down). The locations perfect for us, and all things considered we've been happy for the last 13 years.

I'm not complaining about any of the houses we've been in. We feel we made the right decision. They've all be great homes.

We're now about ready to move. By that, I mean we're starting to look around whilst keeping our eyes on what's going on with covid, brexit etc etc. Could be a couple of years still yet, but we're starting to pay attention.

Prior to lockdown we went to see a number of new build properties as on paper they looked perfect. Great location, good plot size (at least on the plan), ideal layout and all the rest of it.

Here's one we had our eye on:

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/83216137#/media?id=media2

In total we viewed three, from three different developers.

WOW! What the hell has happened since 2008?

They are complete, and total JUNK!

1. The sales lady had to do a little run up, elbowing the front door open. She said they are all like that and needed a little force. She made light of it.

2. The house has been fitted with light grey carpets, which were a mud bath. The workmen had walked all over the carpets with their muddy boots. She said this is what happends in new builds and they have a cleaning lady which gives them a deep clean before the sale.

3. Woodwork is the absolute cheapest you can buy. The door frames, doors and skirting boards are terrible. I asked when the house was going to be painted, and she said it already had :eek: A super thin layer of paint brushed on leaving streaks and drips. The light fittings, door hinges and spotlights were also covered in paint.

4. The internal walls shake. Literally, you can push them with your hands and the entire wall will shake and move.

5. Kitchen is symphony. The cheapest on the market. Wonky doors, two cupboards for actual food/pots and a chipped worktop.

6. Bathroom is made by Roca. Cheap crap.

7. The garage roof was about 6ft. I'm 5ft 10 and felt like I was going to hit my head on the wooden beams. She said the garages are quite low down. Then there's the issue with actually getting to the garage. You seem to have to drive over your neighbours drive to get to it.

8. New build developments are all subject to a yearly mainteance fee? £16 a month. Something to do with councils no longer looking after the roads.

9. Internet has to be from a supplier on the OFNL network? Twice as expensive as Virgin/Sky

10. Outside didn't feel me with much confidence either. Looking around I honestly wouldn't be surprised if some of the houses started to fall down. They look like they have literally been slung up in an afternoon.

The other thing I noticed, was how reluctant the sales staff were to actually sell you a house. Pretty much every sentence started with Sorry we can't do that or No, that's not possible. It was take it or leave it, as there's plenty of other customers wanting to buy. They kinda have a point.

Is there anyone building nice homes these days?

I'm not asking people to tell me to just go and buy an older house. That's obvious. This post is trying to make sense of what's happened to the quality of our houses. We've gone from building some really great ones, to building some....which I reckon, could probably be equalled with a good £5,000 worth of lego and a couple of pots of superglue.

It was a shock to be honest. I'd heard the jokes online and thought people were going a bit overboard with how bad they are. Jeez....they really are. I mean, they are really bad.

I would have a look around. Yes, supply, demand means they can push crap and people will still buy.

there are good builders out there but you have to look and focus on smaller developments. Also anecdotal but avoid “new build villages” these seem to be the worst and in my opinion won’t age well.

we are also looking at new builds and have seen a few, we waiting to reserve a plot due to be built by the end of 2021 with the view that we can back out if the market gets really bad or if things don’t look great by the time we need to mortgage up around august.

I would love to see some market shake up with a Tesla like business. Pasiv haus, pre fab, bought to site, finance able with normal mortgage products. TOP build and features, but we seem to be stuck building houses the same way we have since 100bc. love the idea of https://www.kisshouse.co.uk/ but financing one is ridiculous and they are not cheap.
 
Soldato
OP
Joined
30 Sep 2005
Posts
14,647
I think a lot of it comes down to the quality of the local contracters.

Most of these large house builders usually just hire local trades, they'll do as basic of a job as they can get away with. Unfortunately that results in shoddy workmanship.

I would say for a new build you're normally better off going with a smaller independent house builder where they'll usually have their own tradespeople.

Well there is one we love....our dream home. Thing is, it's £65k out of our price range :p That's a small developer. It looks stunning.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
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Posts
20,018
Location
Екатеринбург
There are people who view houses from another development, then buy at another one off plan :eek:
I did that with my first new build house. Never again. It wasn’t that bad but here’s one example of the standard of workmanship. I specced Cat 5a cable to be installed in most rooms. Faceplates terminated at a patch panel in one of the closets. The spark who wired it up was so incompetent, he wired the faceplates up in series. Like a token ring. We had many other issues with that house and were glad to get the hell out. It was a bottom of the barrel Taylor Wimpey townhouse; unsurprising really
 
Associate
Joined
27 Aug 2003
Posts
2,063
There are people who view houses from another development, then buy at another one off plan :eek:

pretty much our experience as well. The issue is that demand is so high, you will miss getting a reservation if you wait for a house to be put up!

The whole thing is just a crap-shoot and needs refreshing through and through.
 
Soldato
Joined
22 Jul 2006
Posts
7,686
Our first house was a persimmon and riddled with issues.

Second home again was a new build but taylor Wimpey. Yes they have creeky floors but so does my parents 30+ year old home.

Taylor Wimpey were great to deal with an on the whole we are happy with the house.

I think when buying a new home buy it as a blank canvas with the view that you can still improve it. Save on their extras and just do the lot yourself at a third of the cost.

We have friends who age bought house to do up and still have nightmares.
 
Caporegime
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127.0.0.1
99.9% of houses are not homes for life any more they thrown together in months and new builds cost far too much. Getting harder for FTB to get one now. Older homes don't get looked after as much as they did and it will get worse as time goes on. This is just the start.
 
Man of Honour
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Posts
83,240
Older houses are far from perfect but my parent's houses were like 1886 (solid except for damp), 1930 (solid except creaky floor boards) and now living in a 1970s build which is OK but not as solid as the older ones. Some of the newer builds I've been in are terrible - more cracking and movement than 50+ year old buildings, riddled with issues, etc.
 
Soldato
Joined
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Posts
12,847
99.9% of houses are not homes for life any more they thrown together in months and new builds cost far too much. Getting harder for FTB to get one now. Older homes don't get looked after as much as they did and it will get worse as time goes on. This is just the start.
Older homes don't get looked after as much as they did? What does that mean? And what does homes for life mean? Do these new builds have an expiry? Harder for FTB to get "one" what? A home for life or a new build?

OP: I think you have confirmed my thoughts. The whole "new build village" fee is a big scam as well.
 
Soldato
Joined
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Posts
5,779
We lived in a new build flat for our first home. Ground floor and we had patio doors that led out to our garden.

after it was built we had the carpet fitter come round and he had to remove all the doors and trim the bottom (not unheard of i spose) however when he came to the bedroom there was 0.9mm clearance from the inwardly opening door to the solid concrete floor. We dragged the site manager in and he came up with every excuse in the book including “your carpet is too thick” (we couldnt even get the door to open over the underlay forget the carpet).

this resulted in my daughter and partner having to live at inlaws for a couple weeks whilst they ummed and ahhed about what they were gonna do and eventually had to remove the entire double door frame and move it up so we could actually fit carpets. Coupled with the horrendous garden that constantly flodded whenever it rained and the fact that a percentage of the estate was “affordable homes” (basically council tenants) and a whole host of other problems we swore that we would never buy a new build ever again.
 
Caporegime
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Posts
38,361
Never buy a new build and especially Taylor wimpey.

I just looked at the price and £380k for a 5 bedroom is cheap. Very cheap but the rooms also do look tiny.

Put it this way a decent 5 bedroom in Glasgow is minimum £450k and that's Scotland, the same home in the best area within Glasgow would be circa a million. I would expect it to be £600k in England and £6 million in London.

Try and buy a house built before the 80's I would say.

You can always add sockets and bathrooms.
 
Soldato
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22,803
As has been said the houses are so in demand they can be thrown up in as short a time as possible with resulting poor workmanship that that entails and the house will still sell. And the bigger the gardens the less space. If they take space off every garden they can fit another house or two in, that's £500k, £200k of which will likely be profit, all for a smaller garden that most will accept. It's entirely normal for housebuilders to pick up a 5 bedroom detached house with front and back gardens for £500-750k, demolish it and build two or three storey flats. Four flats to a floor, no garden to speak of and a dozen parking spaces and the flats will go for £200-£250k each. Even at only four flats per floor and three floors, that's still a minimum of £2.4m and the flats will likely sell easily enough too. Even with build costs etc. the builder could easily clear £1m profit for 6 months work.
 
Associate
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The Government need to sort the issue out but while they keep getting all the lovely section 106 money (without actually doing anything for it! - and never really spending it on the social and community project it was supposed to be spent on) from the developers who are maximizing their profits by building as many cheap houses as possible in the smallest space possible the cycle is only going to continue.
 
Man of Honour
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83,240
Even with older houses there are some silly things - like around the 70s or 80s or so there was a habit for a bit for some insane reason of setting metal pipes in concrete under the floor - but between the use of inferior quality metal and the slight motion of the pipes you'd eventually get very hard to find and very hard to get to mini-leaks.
 
Soldato
Joined
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5,454
I thought the age old adage was "never buy a new build". I would imagine that applied to the 70s as much as it does now.

I think it's like most things in life you get what you pay for. Find a decent site, view already built homes, and cross your fingers, because any new home can bring with it issues.

Really councils should give more provision for people building their own homes, but when land is tied up by farmers and the aristocracy who's only claim to it happens to be from centuries ago what can you do.
 
Last edited:
Associate
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I did that with my first new build house. Never again. It wasn’t that bad but here’s one example of the standard of workmanship. I specced Cat 5a cable to be installed in most rooms. Faceplates terminated at a patch panel in one of the closets. The spark who wired it up was so incompetent, he wired the faceplates up in series. Like a token ring. We had many other issues with that house and were glad to get the hell out. It was a bottom of the barrel Taylor Wimpey townhouse; unsurprising really
Taylor Wimpey... Say no more. In Cambourne they spend more time fixing the "new" houses than they did building it. One has caffolding for over a year now. In one house hey had to replace the ground floor flooring, refit the doors (something to do with fireproofing), roof leaking. I've seen about half dozen other houses requiring new flooring, staircase, etc.
Andif isn't bad enough, the drainage is amot flat, requiring flush every other day, until they go and let the owners/council to sort it out.
Unwin Square in Cambridge the same: roof poorly done and the same issue with drainage.
Socking.
Mine is 1999-2000, and now when something goes wrong, is unbelievable how bad they built it. Most of the things looks like someone just tried towing it. Almost like those Cowboy Builders.
Radiators "secured" to drywall by screw only, no fastener, wall plug or anything, just the screw.
 
Permabanned
Joined
22 Oct 2018
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2,455
Well, I guess the real problem is the housing market in the UK. It's completely messed up. Whether you consider this to be the attitude of the Brits ( that you must own your home ) or house shortages, or just plain madness, who knows, but since the eighties prices have just gone absolutely crazy. In an attempt to reduce prices they make 'em smaller and cheaper, shoddy for the want of another word, but really that has little effect, it's not the cost of building it's the cost of the land, and people in Britain will pay any lunatic price as long as the mortgage company will give them the money. But yes, my parents bought a house in Bristol for £15000 that is now worth over £1m. That increase is in less than my lifetime. That's insane.
 
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