Building science centre BRE has introduced a national quality mark for new housing that will transform the way consumers choose the homes they buy and rent.
Using a simple 5-star rating, the Home Quality Mark will give homebuyers and renters a clear indication of the quality and performance of a new home. It will illustrate the home's overall running costs, and show the impact of the home on the occupant's health and wellbeing as homes become more airtight, respiratory conditions rise and our population gets older.
It will also demonstrate the home's environmental footprint and its resilience to flooding and overheating in a changing climate. Additionally, the mark will evaluate the digital connectivity and performance of the home.
The Home Quality Mark comes in the absence of any third-party approval stamp covering these issues that consumers can use.
Recent consumer research carried out by BRE supports the introduction of the Home Quality Mark with 97% of respondents in a survey saying they would welcome it. For housebuilders, it will provide a valuable independent quality mark they can use to highlight the features of their homes and differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
A number of leading stakeholders are currently working with BRE on the development of the mark from its current beta testing stage, including Kier, Kingspan, the Construction Products Association and Saint Gobain.
Chief executive of BRE, Dr Peter Bonfield, said: "It is our long term goal that the Home Quality Mark will become the de facto sign of a better home – something that home buyers can rely on and use in their purchase decisions. It will also be used by housebuilders to demonstrate the quality and performance of the homes they deliver."
Homes built to the mark will be independently evaluated by licensed BRE Global assessors and developments built to standards like Passivhaus and the Code for Sustainable Homes can be credited under the mark where compatible criteria apply. As a voluntary mark, it signals a significant departure from previous codes and standards.
CALA Homes is one of the housebuilders planning to trial the mark. Chief executive Alan Brown said: "Independent benchmarking of new homes is hugely important. For CALA, it provides third-party recognition of our commitment to consistently build high quality, sustainable homes. For homeowners, it offers a simple and reliable measure of the energy performance of the property they are buying. We look forward to working with BRE on the new Home Quality Mark."
Currently, the mark is being trialled by building products manufacturer Wienerberger on a new project called the E4 brick house, which is under construction on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford. House builders can register developments under the Home Quality Mark from June 2015.