Blog: A site manager’s guide to five-star housebuilding

Barratt Homes' Mill Brae development

Barratt Homes’ Mill Brae development

A home is likely to be the biggest purchase a person will ever make. As such, it’s perfectly understandable that buyers will want every assurance their home is the quality investment they’ve worked so long and hard for.

Launched in 2005 as part of its national survey of house builders, the Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) Star Rating Scheme is a renowned industry benchmark, and an effective and nationally recognised means of identifying quality house builders when searching for a new home.

By awarding stars for the level of customer satisfaction achieved, the scheme gives buyers a clear indication of the quality and customer service standards they can expect from house builders in their area. It also encourages house builders to deliver excellence by setting a competitive standard to aim for.

Demonstrating the award-winning housebuilder’s commitment to the scheme, Barratt Homes has been a five-star housebuilder for eight consecutive years. One of its shining stars is Mill Brae site manager, David Oliver, whose dedication to delivering quality has earned him several Pride in the Job awards from the NHBC over his long career.

Here, David describes five things you can expect from a quality housebuilder worthy of the five star accolade:

Dave Oliver

Dave Oliver

A quality product 

A housebuilder can only secure a five star rating by earning a consistently high score in the national survey of housebuilders. This means that customers must be satisfied with every aspect of the buying experience, and most importantly, the product itself.

By constantly striving to maintain its longstanding five star rating, we operate a comprehensive sign-off process to ensure each home is finished to HBF’s exacting standards. This means that each time a home is handed over to a new owner, it inspected personally by a company director.

We also work closely with our suppliers to ensure each home is fitted with the highest quality fixtures and fittings available. In recent years, we have developed partnerships with numerous quality brands and manufacturers.

An excellent customer service approach

It doesn’t matter how fantastic a property is if a house builder isn’t willing to go that extra mile to provide a supportive and effective sales process. Bad service leaves its mark and is rarely forgotten, especially when customers are asked about their experience by the HBF.

Most reputable housebuilders follow the Consumer Code for Home Builders, which was introduced in 2010 to inform buyers on what they should expect from their builder. You can find out more here:

Barratt Homes has taken this one step further by developing its own Customer Care Charter in addition to observing the Consumer Code. This ten-point plan, which puts customers first, outlines the guidance provided to home buyers through every stage of the process. This includes:

  • a 2-year emergency call-out cover for all homeowners
  • a 2-year warranty covering central heating, appliances, windows and kitchen units
  • a success test to ensure that every plot is signed off against a 20-point checklist
  • director inspection and sign off of every new home and follow up phone call to ensure that customers are happy with both the product and service provided
  • in-home demonstrations of all appliances and features
  • a quality control procedure, utilising the skills of staff across all levels and disciplines

Customer care improvements within the Charter are discussed and evaluated weekly by the Barratt Homes board of directors and regular seminars are arranged for sales, construction and customer service teams to continually build on the quality of service provided.

The right people

By investing in their people, house builders can engender a culture of pride, enthusiasm and passion for their product amongst staff. This reflects positively on the quality of the homes produced and the service provided to customers. Five star builders are more likely to invest in their staff and reward good practice, giving customers the confidence that they will be dealing with a skilled, personable and knowledgeable team.

Barratt Homes is committed to developing its workforce and offering employees, like me, the opportunity to develop new skills and progress their careers. In recent years, we have been highly commended in the category of Best Employer at the 2015 Homes for Scotland Awards, and this year we were named Housebuilder of the Year.

One of our celebrated programmes is the Barratt Academy, to which we look to appoint over apprentices across Scotland every year, giving everyone from school leavers and graduates to ex-armed forces personnel and career changers the chance to break into the lucrative construction industry.


Customers are more likely to rate their builder highly if they feel their investment is protected. Most major house builders will offer a 10 year warranty through the NHBC, which not only puts the buyer at ease, but also the lender – having NHBC certification can be essential for some lenders to rubber stamp a mortgage application.

In addition to the 10 year warranty provided through the NHBC, Barratt Homes’ properties also come with an exclusive two year warranty, covering everything from appliances and interior fittings to central heating and brickwork.

An active participant in the community

In order to build homes that people want to buy and live in, it’s important that house builders create a sense of place when planning and designing new developments. In order to do this successfully, they need to have a strong understanding of the local community, its needs and its expectations.

By engaging with local residents and contributing to community life, house builders are more likely to understand customers’ aspirations and how to provide a more satisfying product.

Barratt Homes has delivered numerous stand-out projects by working with the communities it serves. Most notably, through its work with city stakeholders during the planning and design of Westburn Gardens in Aberdeen, we have delivered a truly ambitious development offering a range of homes that suit the needs and budgets of local people.

What’s more, Barratt Homes has worked closely with community groups like Brighter Bucksburn to help them secure accolades and awards from the likes of Beautiful Scotland for creating attractive environments that local people can be proud of.

Barratt Homes is currently developing homes across the North of Scotland, including Ness Castle in Inverness, Ocean, Westburn Gardens, Riverside Quarter and Allan Park in Aberdeen and several Aberdeenshire communities such as Newmachar, Kemnay, Inverurie and Bridge of Don.

Barratt to unlock sites for over 3,200 new homes across Scotland

Douglas McLeod

Douglas McLeod

Barratt Developments Scotland has acquired ten new sites to allow for the development of 1,400 new homes, with plans in the pipeline to increase capacity by a further 1,830 new homes by the end of the year.

Since April, the housebuilder has been acquiring sites as far north as Inverness down to the central belt, focusing on acquisition in and around Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, the Homes for Scotland Housebuilder of the Year, which includes both the Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes brands, is planning to acquire another eleven sites in Scotland, with capacity for a further 1830 new homes.

Barratt said its commitment to continued investment in Scotland is also reflected in its recruitment activity. Since the summer, the housebuilder has recruited more than 20 graduates and apprentices and 45 additional tradesmen. Indirectly, Barratt’s homebuilding activity has also supported an increase of subcontractor workforces on new sites.

The news comes on the back of Barratt Scotland celebrating another record year of output, having completed 1700 homes across the country over the last financial year. Home completions were up around 9% on the previous year.

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Scotland, said: “We are proud of our footprint and heritage here in Scotland which is why we continue to invest, acquiring new sites and building homes in popular places where people want to live. Demand for new homes is still strong among all types of buyers, from first time buyers through to downsizers, and we’re receiving a consistently high level of enquiries and reservations across our divisions.

“That demand is unlikely to let up, given Scotland’s requirement for new homes to meet population growth. This is good news for both Scotland’s housebuilding industry and its employment market. Over the course of the coming months, we will be looking to increase our proportion of directly employed tradesmen while widening our pool of trusted sub-contractors.”

Barratt wins approval for 115 new homes in Leith

2284 02 B South Fort Street Street Scene View 03 WC_AA development of 115 new homes in the Leith area of Edinburgh has been granted planning permission.

The approval of Barratt Homes’ planning application will result in a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments and colony homes to the north of the city, an area sought after by both families and first time buyers.

The development, located between Ferry Road and Bonnington Road, will include a landscaped green corridor featuring a new cycle path and pedestrian walkway to connect to the existing National Cycle Route.

2284 01 B South Fort Street OverV3 WCMansoor Ali, development director for Barratt Homes East Scotland, said: “New homes in Leith is good news for the area and good news for the city. We are continuing to see demand outstrip supply within Edinburgh’s existing housing stock, and this is unlikely to change.

“Our new development in Leith will go some way to help address this. As well as homes for sale we will also be working to deliver 28 affordable homes along with a number of properties for social housing, all set to help alleviate some of the current housing shortfall in the city.”

The development is expected to create over 500 direct and indirect jobs.

Additionally, Barratt Homes will be providing £530,000 for community improvements including education and transport infrastructure projects.

Barratt delivers highest volumes in nine years

David Thomas

David Thomas

Barratt Developments is seeking to further improve the efficiency of its operations after delivering its highest volumes in nine years.

The housebuilder said it is increasingly looking to timber frames, large format block and light gauge steel frames to speed build times and reduce labour dependency.

The announcement came as the company increased its profit before tax by 12% to £765.1 million (2016: £682.3m) on turnover up 10% to £4.65 billion (2016: £4.23bn).

The number of homes completed during the year to June 30 rose by 0.4% while total completions crept up to 17,395 from 17,319.

Barratt also confirmed plans for a series of special dividends to shareholders which will see them receive a £1.4bn windfall over the next two years.

Chief executive David Thomas said: “Improving the efficiency of our operations and controlling costs continues to be a high priority for the Group, as it will further enhance our margin.

“In 2016, the Group undertook a fundamental review of its Barratt and David Wilson housing ranges.

“The outcome was a reduction in the number of houses in the range which will increase standardisation, simplify construction and reduce build costs whilst maintaining our high standards of design and build quality.

“There are currently 132 sites with c. 19,000 plots where we will be using the new ranges, of which 51 sites are already under construction.

“We have a robust and carefully managed supply chain with 90% of the housebuild materials sourced by our centralised procurement function manufactured or assembled in the UK. The cost of c. 75% of our centrally procured materials is now fixed until the end of FY18.

“On labour, whilst we continue to see some pressure on skilled labour supply with shortages remaining location and trade specific, the rate of cost increase has eased.

“We are also seeking to increase construction efficiency and reduce demand on labour through implementing the new house-type ranges which are easier to build and through the use of alternative build options such as timber frames, large format block and light gauge steel frames.

“We continue to expect that overall build cost inflation for FY18 will be c. 3-4%.”

Barratt to beat expectations as completions reach nine year high

David Thomas

David Thomas

Barratt Developments said it expected to end its financial year with a 12% rise in pre-tax profits as the housebuilder recorded its highest level of completions in nine years.

In a trading update issued today for the year to 30th June 2017 the firm said it expects to report profit before tax of around £765 million, compared to the previous year’s £682m, and also ahead of market expectations.

The housebuilder, also narrowly increased its unit volume output in the past financial year to 17,395 units including joint ventures, compared with 17,319 units the year before. This was the highest level of completions in nine years.

The trading statement also revealed expectations to deliver the financial targets set in 2014 of 20% gross profit margin and 25% return on capital employed. Year-end net cash stood at £720m (30th June 2016: £592m), ahead of guidance, driven by strong performance and the timing of land and working capital payments.

Chief executive David Thomas said: “It has been another very strong year for the group both operationally and financially. We have delivered our highest number of completions for nine years, more than any other housebuilder, and continue to see a positive mortgage environment and strong consumer demand.

“In March we were recognised as a five star builder by the Home Builders Federation for the eighth year in a row and we are determined to lead the industry in quality and service as we drive operational improvements through the business.”

New £500m Inverness development set to begin in weeks

Hazledene GroupThe Scottish Government and Highland Council have given approval for a £500 million development by Hazledene Inverness which will feature 1,500 homes, surrounding a new town centre with retail, leisure and community facilities.

Minister for local government & housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, visited the site at Stratton today with Brian Clarke of the Hazledene Group and Councillor Helen Carmichael, Provost of Inverness and Area, to announce that the first construction work will begin this August.

The new community at Stratton will be located on the outskirts of Inverness, on land adjoining Inverness Retail Park and will be closely linked to existing communities at Culloden, Smithton and Balloch.

Work on the major infrastructure associated with the project will begin at the end of August and is in part being financed by an infrastructure loan provided by the Scottish Government.

Hazledene Inverness, the developer behind the proposal, has agreed to make a major investment to deliver this significant project and is delighted to confirm that 400 homes will be delivered by Barratt Homes. In addition, Hazledene Inverness has completed the sale to Highland Council of land sufficient for an additional 150 homes.

The Stratton site will create up to 1,000 permanent jobs in addition to 1,200 temporary construction jobs.

In the first phase 550 homes will be built, all retaining the key characteristics of architecture in the region. At least a quarter of these are designed to help meet Highland Council’s affordable housing targets.

Brian Clarke of the Hazledene Group said: “This is a strategically important site for the city of Inverness, reflecting the buoyancy of the Inverness economy and in keeping with Highland Council’s development objectives. It complements many of the wider initiatives contained in the City Region Deal and we are pleased to have the support of Scottish Government by way of the Infrastructure Loan facility. We have worked with Highland Council over the past five years to align our proposals with their goals and we are delighted that we have reached an agreement to move forward to delivery.”

Sustainable development is a key feature of Stratton, with attention given to habitat diversity, green spaces, woodland areas bordering the development and the creation of a network of cycle paths and footpaths.

A £10m fund has been announced today by the Scottish Government, aligned to the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The region will benefit from a £135m Scottish Government investment into its infrastructure, following the award of a City-Region Deal in March 2016.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “Increasing the supply of affordable homes across Scotland is our key aim and today we have made a significant commitment to supporting the delivery of new housing in The Highland Council area.

“The jointly supported £10m Highland Infrastructure Fund means the council can plan for new affordable homes now and will provide all housing developments, including small or rural schemes with an equal opportunity to apply.

“Today’s announcement will provide the certainty that The Highland Council and the housing sector need to deliver their housing priorities in the area. It also reflects the strong partnership between the council and the Scottish Government to better meet our joint objectives on housing.”

Councillor Helen Carmichael added: “Availability of affordable housing is fundamentally important to the sustainability of communities in the Highlands. The Highland Council is committed, with our partners, through the City-Region Deal, to provide quality affordable homes which will help to retain a young and vibrant workforce and give our young people the best possible opportunities.”

The first construction work at Stratton is scheduled to begin in August 2017.

Barratt Developments promotes Jessica White to CFO

Barratt DevelopmentsBarratt Developments has announced the appointment of Jessica White as its new chief financial officer with immediate effect.

Ms White steps up from group financial controller to join the main board of Barratt as an executive director and CFO, replacing Neil Cooper who left in January after just 18 months in the job.

Jessica White’s experience in the house-building industry dates back to 2005 when she joined Wilson Bowden as a corporate accountant in 2005. She had qualified as a chartered accountant with PwC in 2003. Following the acquisition of Wilson Bowden by Barratt in 2007, she was made head of financial accounting at Barratt, and in 2010 was promoted to group financial controller

“Jessica has more than a decade of experience in the housebuilding industry, and has been integral to Barratt’s financial and operational progress,” said chairman John Allan.

“We are delighted to appoint her as chief financial officer and believe she has the skills, experience and track record to help drive the future success of the company.”

Jessica White said she was also “delighted” to be appointed to the role.

“In my 12 years at the company, I have seen first-hand Barratt’s commitment both to the quality of its product and to its people.

“I look forward to working closely with David, Steven and the wider management team to reinforce Barratt’s position as the country’s leading housebuilder whilst driving further value creation through tangible initiatives such as operating margin improvement.”

Barratt Scotland site managers secure ten Pride in the Job awards

Douglas McLeod

Douglas McLeod

Ten site managers at Barratt Scotland developments carried home awards from Friday’s National House Building Council’s (NHBC) Pride in the Job Quality Awards.

Four site managers from both the East and West of Scotland divisions, and two from the North of Scotland, received the prestigious awards in recognition of their commitment to building homes of outstanding quality.

Across the UK, Barratt and David Wilson Homes received a total of 74 awards which is more than any other housebuilder – a title that Barratt Homes has held for 13 years.

This year’s Pride in the Job winners for Barratt Scotland include:

  • Peter Lawrie, The Elms
  • Gareth Lewis, Bridge View
  • Ewan MacLean, Dalmeny Park
  • Alex Sinnet, Newcraighall Village
  • David Oliver, Mill Brae
  • Allan Barclay, Westburn Gardens
  • Tom Hill, Newton Farm
  • Matt McLaughlin, The Botanics
  • Murray Grierson, Lauder Gardens
  • Alan Grant, Highland Gate

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Scotland, said: “We take enormous pride in the quality of homes we build and it is fantastic to see our hard-working site managers and their teams recognised among the best in the country.

“To be recognised for our commitment to outstanding quality across 10 developments in Scotland is a fantastic achievement, and testament to the commitment and dedication of our teams.”

Barratt Developments appeals for more sub-contractors in Fife

K_Balmoral_001 FinalSub-contractors in Fife are being sought to help build homes for the UK’s largest house builder as Barratt Developments looks to add to its current supplier roster.

The housebuilder is calling on sub-contractors from across Fife to come forward as the business looks to expand its workforce to meet its ambitious growth plans for 2017.

As the owner of housebuilder brands Barratt and David Wilson Homes, Barratt Developments plc is looking to ensure that it has skilled labour in place at a time when demand for new homes is on the rise.

Lee Ogg, commercial director of Barratt Homes East Scotland, said: “With a host of new developments set to launch this year, we are looking to supplement our existing sub-contractor base in Fife. From sole traders right the way through to larger firms, we are keen to hear from those who can provide trade services for the domestic building sector.

“Those who think they fit the bill could have worked with us before or be new to Barratt Developments. Alternatively they could currently be working in the commercial sector and are looking to move over to house building. The trades we’re looking for include electricians, plumbers, painter and decorators, joiners, roofers, scaffolders, bricklayers and mastic sealant contractors.”

The developer is also keen to help ambitious trades people looking to start their own businesses.

Lee added: “Sub-contractors are so important to our business and at Barratt Developments we are looking for genuine partnerships, offering regular work and mentoring. We ask anyone interested to get in touch.”

To register their interest, sub-contractors are asked to contact

Barratt Homes crowned Home Builder of the Year

Tim Vine announced the winners of the 2017 Homes for Scotland Annual Awards at the organisation’s Annual Lunch in Edinburgh, with Barratt Homes scooping Home Builder of the Year

Tim Vine announced the winners of the 2017 Homes for Scotland Annual Awards at the organisation’s Annual Lunch in Edinburgh, with Barratt Homes scooping Home Builder of the Year

Barratt Homes has been crowned Homes for Scotland’s Home Builder of the Year at the trade body’s largest ever ceremony, which was held in Edinburgh last week in front of an 1100-strong crowd of senior industry leaders and guests.

The awards, which were presented by comedian and actor Tim Vine, recognise the achievements of those involved in delivering the wide range of quality homes Scotland desperately needs, with judging criteria significantly strengthened over the last couple of years to ensure that they remain the most robust and credible within the industry.

Barratt scooped the top honour as the result of its strong showing in three categories, customer focus and commitment to Scotland.  Judges were also impressed with the pride and passion demonstrated by senior management during a comprehensive interview.

Kareen Davidson, chair of the independent judging panel for a second consecutive year and former sales & marketing director at Bett Homes, said: “With the rigorous judging process which is in place ensuring that Homes for Scotland awards are very much worth winning, I have been delighted to see the quality of entries increase year-on-year.

“All of the finalists were strong contenders in their own right and all are therefore extremely worthy of recognition. This was reinforced by the judging process involving site inspections in the development categories, the introduction of interviews in the Supporting Organisation category and the need to demonstrate how the needs of a modern day family are met in the Home of the Year category.

“Judging the awards has been a tough but rewarding job and we congratulate everyone who entered for their commitment and showcasing their achievements in helping to ensure we are building enough homes for Scotland.”

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Scotland, added: “Design, quality and service are at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. We take an enormous amount of pride in the consistently high levels of quality and service that we deliver for our customers across Scotland.

“It’s a great achievement for Barratt Homes and its developments to be recognised as leaders in terms of the quality of what we do. We are passionate about the homes we build so it’s fantastic to be acknowledged by the Homes for Scotland panel in this way. In the end it’s not just about individual homes that we build it’s about the places we create.”

School_Road_Broxburn-47Elsewhere, the redevelopment of the former Broxburn Primary School in West Lothian was named Affordable Housing Development of the Year.

Constructed by partnership housing developer Lovell on behalf of West Lothian Council on the former Broxburn Primary School site, the new purpose built residential flats are designed specifically for older people and to enable them to live as independently as possible.

Creating minimal impact on the surrounding area, Broxburn – Housing for Older People utilised many of the original 1890’s sandstone buildings’ features. Two new buildings were also constructed to create 18 one and two bedroom flats arranged around a shared courtyard and garden area.

School_Road_Broxburn-41Demonstrating Lovell’s strong commitment to investing in the local area, 80% of subcontractors working on the project came from within 40km of the project site. Running alongside the development programme, Lovell also made particular efforts to establish an educational schools and colleges programme. This included a Health and Safety team visit to the new Broxburn Primary School, giving pupils an opportunity to learn about good health and safety practice and the dangers of building sites.

On winning the Affordable Housing Development of the Year category, Sarah Freel from Lovell, said: “Everyone at Lovell is thrilled that our new development on Broxburn’s West Main Street has been named Affordable Housing Development of the Year at this year’s coveted Homes for Scotland awards.

“Lovell have been building affordable partnership homes for over 45 years, even selling the UK’s first ever affordable partnership development back in 1972. We are committed to working with a range of local partners to deliver housing that is carefully tailored to the needs of the local community. It’s really gratifying for such a collaborative project to be recognised through these awards and we are very grateful to everyone involved in bringing the project to life.”

DCIM102GOPROThe Homes for Scotland Awards were established in 2003 to recognise and promote best practice in the industry. Building on the success of 2016’s refreshed and refocused awards, the 2017 programme introduced more stringent judging criteria and site visits, making these awards particularly sought after.

A full list of winners can be accessed here.