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Celebrating Quality And Embracing Some Good News

Tim Walsingham left and Danny Pinner centre with Abel Homes chairman Tony Abel sm

It is the nature of news that the media tends to pay more attention when things go wrong, writes Tony Abel. 

Perhaps it’s human nature that gives us an appetite for bad news rather than good news, but any newspaper editor will tell you that catastrophe and disaster on the front page are always good for sales.

That is why, in the housing sector, it is always stories about prices crashing, rogue landlords and problems with builders which make the headlines.  Of course, these are newsworthy precisely because they are by and large the exceptions, but it is easy to be lulled into thinking that the whole world is going to ruin – which it is not, of course.

So it was a delight last week to attend an event which celebrated all that is good about our profession.  The ‘Seal of Excellence’ Awards are run by the National House Builders Confederation (NHBC), and it exists to shine the spotlight on the dedicated men and women who run housing construction sites across the UK.

It is heart-warming to remind ourselves that, despite the occasional horror story in the media, the vast majority of new homes are built with care by professional and committed people.  The occasion was made that much more enjoyable for us when Tim Walsingham, senior site manager at Abel Homes’ Swan’s Nest site in Swaffham, brought home one of the coveted awards!

There are two important points to make here.  The first is that new homes are being built to a higher standard today than ever before, driven by a combination of advances in technology, ever-more demanding purchasers, and the strictest ever building regulations.

Your new home today will be more energy-efficient, smarter, better built using improved materials, and more tech-ready than in any previous era.

But building regulations, despite becoming ever more demanding, should only be the baseline for quality, and that brings me onto my second point: not all new homes are built equal.  As the NHBC awards ceremony showed, there are some of us who regard building regulations not as the target standard, but rather as a baseline on which to improve.

It’s not just about the fabric of the house itself, which is where the regulations are focussed.  It’s also about quality in design both of the home and the development as a whole, it’s about service and customer care, and it’s about the level of ‘liveability’ delivered by each individual house builder.

It’s lovely for your efforts to be recognised with an award from a respected national organisation, but ultimately the prize that really counts is the reputation you earn over time amongst house buyers.  It’s right that rogue operators have the spotlight shone on them in the press, but let’s celebrate the good guys as well.