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Harron Homes promises that its newly built houses will “surpass all expectations”. The £324,995 home that James Uttley bought was certainly beyond his imaginings.

Developers registered with the National House Building Council provide a 10year warranty. Some New Homes developers offer similar guarantees, but from other providers.

A spokesperson for the company tells me: “We are working with our customers to undertake the general snagging work, which is commonplace with new- build homes. We do everything within our power to finish work in the shortest possible time frame. However, contractually we are unable to offer customers fixed completion dates until a property has been signed off by the NHBC or Local Authority Building Control.”

“It is the builder’s responsibility for ensuring that homes conform to the building regulations and NHBC standards,” says a spokesperson.

Heather Clarke (not her real name) says she and her family arrived with their removal van to find their house at Oak Dean Mount in Rotherham unfinished. “The garden was a lake, there were massive holes at the side of the garage doors, the top windows weren’t filled on the outside, brickwork and tiles were chipped and the render falling off,” she says. “The place needed replastering and repainting, a leak had damaged the kitchen, bathrooms had vinyl instead of tiles and there were chips and dents.”

■ List any defects and report them in writing as soon as possible. Non-structural defects must be reported within two years.

To find out more, please call 01908 871023 or email [email protected]

A hole where a window should be, no cavity wall insulation and uneven stairs are just a few of the problems developers have left behind, with owners struggling for solutions

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One reader has spent £1,800 on surveys since moving in, as his Bellway house was beset with problems. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Lloyd’s and Uttley’s ordeals highlight a gap in the law that leaves purchasers of six-figure new homes with less protection than supermarket shoppers. The Consumer Rights Directive, which enshrines the rights of customers, does not cover property. When things go wrong, residents on newly completed developments have to rely on a 10-year warranty insured by the NHBC or another approved warranty provider.

When choosing a site, new homes developers give careful consideration to access points and the surrounding area. This means that most new homes are built in highly sought-after areas close to shops, public transport and other amenities.

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Two days later, in a rain storm, water poured down the sloping drive into the garage, ruining £1,600-worth of belongings the family had stored there.

It is the builder’s responsibility for ensuring that homes conform to the building regulations

Peter Lloyd (not his real name) says he faces leaving his house in Worcestershire because the developer, Bellway, used substandard mortar. Roof tiles were also wrongly fitted and there are gaps around inadequately measured windows. He has spent £1,800 in surveys since moving in in March 2015. “We’ve previously asked Bellway to put in writing to confirm they’ll do all the outstanding work and exactly how they plan to do it,” he says. “They have so far refused.”

Whether you’re a first time buyer, retired or have a growing family looking for a larger space, new house builders create new homes for everyone. Most new homes developments have a variety of options for homebuyers including apartments and more traditional homes. Designed to meet the needs of modern day living, the space in new homes is used efficiently & effectively.

The NHBC says it has appointed a specialist engineer to assess his house and will require Bellway to carry out its recommendations. Bellway has failed to respond to requests for a comment.

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■ Research the developer online before you buy to check for negative feedback.

When you buy a new home, you can move in as soon as it is finished.

A fresh slate, you’ll find there’s no need to spend money or time redecorating and repairing your new home, and some new build house developers even give you the option of designing your new home before it’s built. These options help to ensure your property is built exactly to your specifications and taste.

Both the NHBC and LABC say that every home registered with their warranty scheme is inspected at various stages of construction, but these are visual checks to assess that they are a standard insurance risk rather than quality control.

You can also avoid the often lengthy process of waiting for detailed surveys to be completed on your new home as your guarantee covers any unforeseen problems. That said, most new homes have advanced security features as standard, including circuit breakers, fire and smoke alarms meaning your chances of anything going wrong are greatly reduced.

■ Appoint a solicitor early to advise on contracts such as a cancellation clause if the builder does not complete by a specified date.

Standards are falling all the time as demand from shareholders takes priority over qualit

■ Question purchasers who have moved in to completed phases of a development about their experience.

New homes, or ‘new builds’ as they’re sometimes called, are more popular than ever. New homes developers have made leaps and bounds in recent years to create new homes that are energy efficient, boast fabulous contemporary designs and excellent build quality.

Come move day, there’s no need to feel like ‘the newcomers’ to the neighbourhood – when you buy a new home, everyone’s in the same position as you.

“Standards are falling all the time as demand from shareholders takes priority over quality,” says Phil Waller, a retired construction manager who runs advice and campaigning website “It used to be unheard of for people to have to move out of their home while it’s repaired, but now it happens far too often.”

Harron Homes was established in 1995 by brothers Paul and Stephen Harrison, and as the company’s standards apparently slip its profits are soaring. Last year turnover was £93.6m, up 24% from 2015, allowing the brothers take-home pay of more than £1.5m.

■ Ensure your home and contents policy includes protection in case you have to take a developer to court.

Readers who have contacted The Observer – 23 people – have reported collapsing ceilings, ill-fitted bathrooms and unconnected drain pipes in estates elsewhere across the north.

■ Check which warranty provider the developer is registered with and read its consumer code.

Uttley’s ordeal highlights slipping standards as developers race to meet rising demand for new homes. A survey released this week by the National House Building Council (NHBC) shows that 98% of new-home buyers who responded reported defects and a quarter of those had identified more than 16. One of the UK’s largest developers, Bovis, recently set aside a £7m fund to repair substandard homes and announced it would scale back its projects after claims it paid purchasers to move into unfinished homes to meet completion targets.

■ Watch out for defects that might only become evident after several weeks.

In Wrexham, Clwyd, Harron Homes stopped work on a half-finished estate in 2007 and are yet to return. Householders living next to it complain of open sewers and rats blighting the community. Last month their MP Susan Elan Jones presented a petition to parliament asking for the government to enforce the completion of unfinished estates, or the gifting of the land to local authorities or housing associations.

There are no upward chains to consider when buying a new build house, so the whole process is much less stressful and quicker. Some new homes developers even offer part exchange deals to save even more time.

Sun 2 Apr 2017 06.59 BST Last modified on Sat 2 Dec 2017 03.24 GMT

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■ Ask an independent snagging company to inspect the house for flaws before completion. However, developers aren’t obliged to allow you to enter the property before the legal completion date and many don’t.

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There was a large hole where the bathroom window should be, he says. No carpets had been laid and there was no sign of a fitted wardrobe for which he had paid an extra £1,000. Holes gaped in the brickwork, yellow foam from the roof spattered the windows and a fence had shaved two meters off a garden which had been advertised as being flat, but which had developed a significant tilt. Harron did install the missing window, but 10 months on Uttley is still waiting for the other problems to be rectified.

His neighbours on the Hazelmoor Fold development in Blackley, West Yorkshire – where there are 82 homes – have similar accounts, including floods and leaks. In 2015 a boundary wall collapsed, damaging three cars. Rather than resolve the problems Harron has written to residents banning them from calling customer services to complain. “Emails and phone calls have gone unanswered,” says Uttley, who moved his young family into the four-bed house in April last year. “Over the winter we discovered that there is no cavity wall insulation, the landing is severely sloping and the stairs uneven.”

However, it costs £120 to lodge a complaint via the scheme, whose findings are not legally binding, and it only applies to developments registered with the three main warranty providers, NHBC, LABC Warranty and Premier Guarantee. A parliamentary inquiry last July found that the scheme does not offer adequate redress and called for the establishment of a new homes ombudsman to address serious failings in the building sector.

New homes are designed to minimise waste and to work in balance with the environment. Most of today’s new homes developers strive to create a sense of community within the development by adding parks, play areas, and other features for the benefit of the residents.

■ Avoid buying in June or December. Developers may cut corners to get the money before their half-yearly accounts.

Most of the big-name developers have attracted criticism for quality failures, but Leeds-based Harron Homes appears to have particular problems. In 2015 Kirklees Council ordered it to stop work on a development in Huddersfield while it sorted the drainage after residents reported flooding and sink holes.

The average new home is up to 4x times more energy efficient than a traditional ‘second-hand’ home, due to excellent insulation and the latest energy saving devices. New homes often have lower running costs compared to traditional homes, and provide a more eco-friendly way of living.

Residents at Harron’s Edenbrook Vale scheme in Pontefract recently held a protest outside the sales office after enduring months of leaks, malfunctioning heating and flooded gardens. Others have yet to get as far as moving in. One reader exchanged contracts for a Harron house in Meadow View, Barnsley, last April. A year on she’s no closer to completion. “We’re being told the neighbouring house must be rebuilt after a fire and we can’t move in until that’s done,” she says. “We’ve asked Harron if we can transfer our deposit to another property but we’ve not been given any answers except that because we have exchanged contracts there is nothing we can do.”

If you are a new homes developer in the UK, why not make sure your properties are seen by the UK’s largest home moving audience.

The 10-year promise could be misleading – developers only have to rectify problems that arise in the first two years following completion. After that, purchasers have to claim on the warranty provider’s insurance which only covers serious structural issues. As a last resort, new homeowners can appeal to the Consumer Code for Home Builders adjudication scheme introduced by the industry in 2010 as part of a voluntary bid to shake up standards.

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