Last edited 14 Feb 2021

Improving home quality with HQM ONE

[edit] Quality housing for our communities is as important as ever.

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[1], 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.

BRE Innovation park.jpg

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.

[edit] How does HQM recognise the delivery of quality?

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:

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:

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:

All these credits are optional to encourage flexible processes to achieve quality outcomes.

We have also made more credits available to the ‘Deliverysection (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).

Infographic content-changes.jpg

Fig2: Summary of proposed new content across technical issues in HQM ONE.

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.

[1] 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.

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