Many people will perhaps agree that 'quality' is an overused word. There are 'quality butchers', and 'quality bakers', plus the ubiquitous 'quality used cars'. Probably, one of the reasons that it is so overused is that it is a very ambiguous word. It can be used by a seller to suggest something that the buyer will receive, which actually they do not.
The use of the word quality is even more ambiguous when it is used in relation to property. Because, for example, who's to know what exactly a seller means when they talk about quality? Are they referring to a good quality area, with good quality schools? Are they referring to good quality materials, or workmanship? The term 'high quality specification' is a case in point…exactly what does it mean?
Of course there are a few benchmarks which can indicate a certain quality standard is being maintained, such as EPCs, NHBC Buildmark guarantees, building regulations and standards demanded by lenders. The Government-sanctioned Code for Sustainable Homes, now defunct, was another scheme that aimed to benchmark quality for sustainable building. But again, these are open to a degree of interpretation. What one property buyer thinks of as 'quality' might not be 'quality' to another, and vice versa.
The issue of Brexit, its effect on the supply of European labour and possible impact on quality standards in construction - which we looked at last month - is very relevant too. Even if you have a quality standard, how well can it be maintained?
Recently a new house building quality standard - the Home Quality Mark - was introduced, which might help to clarify this situation. So in the rest of this report we will look at how such standards might resolve the issue of 'quality'.