Improving home quality with HQM ONE
With Government’s pledge to build a million new homes by 2020, a major review of building regulations, a growing skills gap and increasing amounts of homeowners reporting defects, we clearly need more homes and these homes need to be fit for purpose; they need to be high-quality.
As an industry we need to give consumers, communities and investors confidence that homes will live up to expectations. They need to be affordable and healthy to live in, with a low environmental impact.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is the largest UK charity specifically dedicated to research and education in the built environment, and we have learned from decades of experience to help build a better world; from our boundary-pushing innovation parks, to BREEAM, the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for developments.
Fig1: BRE’s innovation park, Watford, UK.
Using this knowledge we have developed the Home Quality Mark (HQM), to help consumers make informed decisions that they can trust, when looking to buy or rent a new home. And the standard is going through an update; HQM ONE.
A key part of HQM ONE’s proposed changes is to recognise new standards that help deliver high-quality homes.
To start with, all homes need to have a compliant building warranty in place; one that’s recognised by the Trading Standards Institute or an industry-backed body like the Consumer Code for Home Builders. This helps establish a starting level of assurance, because these warranties require:
- Warranty home inspections during construction
- Support if any serious defects emerge during the first 10 or so years of occupation, and
- Standards around customer service for the first couple years of occupation from the developer.
For HQM ONE, we want to go further than this by introducing new standards that all HQM homes need to meet, to enhance the value of an independently certified HQM home across key factors that are important, for any home to achieve.
If they can’t meet these standards, it raises the question; are they really good enough?
The proposed standards provide a consistent process throughout a home’s development from early design through to handover and in-use. They include:
- Agreeing a plan to outline how quality outcomes are going to be delivered throughout the project
- Producing a procurement policy to ensure goods and specifications are used that deliver high-quality performance standards, in-practice
- Clear communication links with trades and site operatives so quality processes are carried out during construction
- Keeping a transparent record throughout construction that shows the quality assurance measures that have been taken, which occupants will have access to, to help resolve problems if they emerge, with minimal disruption
- Carrying out good practice commissioning of building systems and services by professionals who are not checking their own work
- Ensuring each home is finished and habitable by highlighting and resolving any defects via a visual inspection, before occupants move in
- Giving occupants a handover visit to demonstrate how to manage the home in the most comfortable and efficient way, backed up by clear, user-friendly information.
These activities establish the starting point that all quality homes should begin with. Going beyond this, we are proposing for HQM ONE to award increasing amounts of credits the more that is done to deliver quality.
This includes recognising where:
- Pre-testing and quality assurance of building fabric, to help fix anything that prevents targeted airtightness levels from being met, early on before the primary air barrier is covered up
- Post-construction testing, including airtightness testing and thermographic surveys are carried out on the assessed home, to help ensure fabric performance levels are met in-practice
- Giving potential occupants the right for them, or their representative, to carry out independent, visual inspections, with defects dealt with before committing to buy the home
- Inspections from professionals with the appropriate experience, who are based on-site at key stages of construction, for every assessed home. Extra recognition is given where this person is independent, like a clerk of works type role
- Proactive visits during the early stages to help homes perform as well as they can
- Decent customer service and on-call support.
We have also made more credits available to the ‘Delivery’ section (Knowledge sharing, in Beta) and re-structured it, to put more emphasis on delivering quality homes (fig2 summarises the new content across HQM issues, including to issues on quality).
Fig2: Summary of proposed new content across technical issues in HQM ONE. Full interactive infographic of changes here.
Throughout the consultation period we will be collecting feedback on our proposals to help shape the final version of the scheme and we would really like to know what you think, whether you are in industry or are a member of the public.
 The 2015 National New Home Customer Satisfaction Survey carried out by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and warranty provider National House Building Council (NHBC), showed that 93% of buyers report problems to their builders – and of these, 35% report 11 or more problems.
Issue support documents
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Issue support documents are written for named BREEAM Issues or sub-issues. More info. (ac) = awaiting content
- BREEAM Sustainability champion
- BREEAM Environmental management
- BREEAM Considerate construction
- BREEAM Monitoring of construction site impacts
- BREEAM Aftercare support
- BREEAM Seasonal commissioning
- BREEAM Life cycle cost and service life planning
- BREEAM Stakeholder consultation (ac)
- BREEAM Commissioning (ac)
- BREEAM Handover (ac)
- BREEAM Inclusive and accessible design (ac)
- BREEAM Post occupancy evaluation (ac)
 Health and Wellbeing
- BREEAM Visual comfort Daylighting (partly ac)
- BREEAM Visual comfort View out
- BREEAM Visual comfort Glare control
- BREEAM Indoor air quality plan
- BREEAM Indoor air quality Ventilation
- BREEAM Thermal comfort
- BREEAM Internal and external lighting (ac)
- BREEAM Indoor pollutants VOCs (ac)
- BREEAM Potential for natural ventilation (ac)
- BREEAM Safe containment in laboratories (ac)
- BREEAM Acoustic performance (ac)
- BREEAM Safety and security (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of energy use and carbon emissions
- BREEAM Energy monitoring
- BREEAM External lighting (ac)
- BREEAM Low carbon design
- BREEAM Passive design
- BREEAM Free cooling
- BREEAM LZC technologies
- BREEAM Energy efficient cold storage (partly ac)
- BREEAM Energy efficient transportation systems (ac)
- BREEAM Energy efficient laboratory systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient equipment (partly ac)
- BREEAM Drying space
- BREEAM Public transport accessibility
- BREEAM Proximity to amenities (ac)
- BREEAM Cyclist facilities
- BREEAM Alternative modes of transport (ac)
- BREEAM Maximum car parking capacity
- BREEAM Travel plan
- BREEAM Home office (ac)
- BREEAM Water consumption
- BREEAM Water efficient equipment
- BREEAM Water monitoring (ac)
- BREEAM Water leak detection (ac)
- BREEAM Hard landscaping and boundary protection
- BREEAM Responsible sourcing of materials
- BREEAM Insulation
- BREEAM Designing for durability and resilience
- BREEAM Life cycle impacts (ac)
- BREEAM Material efficiency (ac)
- BREEAM Construction waste management
- BREEAM Recycled aggregates
- BREEAM Speculative floor & ceiling finishes
- BREEAM Adaptation to climate change
- BREEAM Operational waste (ac)
- BREEAM Functional adaptability (ac)
 Land Use and Ecology
- BREEAM Site Selection
- BREEAM Ecological value of site
- BREEAM Protection of ecological features
- BREEAM Minimising impact on existing site ecology
- BREEAM Enhancing site ecology
- BREEAM Long term impact on biodiversity (ac)
- BREEAM Impact of refrigerants
- BREEAM NOx emissions
- BREEAM Flood risk management (ac)
- BREEAM Surface water run-off (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of night time light pollution (partly ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of noise pollution
Once an ISD has been initially created the '(ac)' marker can be removed
This particular index is based around the structure of the New Construction and RFO schemes.