The Home Quality Mark (HQM) has been created to serve the UK’s house builders and the householders who buy and rent new homes. In many ways it is the follow on from the now largely defunct Code for Sustainable Homes, however, it varies quite significantly from that scheme in aims and assessment.
In short, the HQM helps house builders to demonstrate the high quality of their homes and to differentiate them in the marketplace. At the same time, it aims to gives householders the confidence that the new homes they are choosing to buy or rent are well designed and built, and cost effective to run.
The HQM does this by providing impartial information from independent experts on a new home’s quality and sustainability. It clearly indicates to householders the high standards for running costs, health and wellbeing benefits and environmental footprint associated with living in the home. In short, HQM helps everyone to fully understand the quality, performance and attributes of a new-build home.
Developed by Building Research Establishment (BRE), the HQM is part of the BREEAM family of quality and sustainability standards.
How is it assessed?
Independent, fully trained and licensed professionals, such as Blewburton Limited, assess and score wide ranging aspects of a new home to give an overall quality rating. This 5-star rating makes it easy to quickly compare different homes in terms of their overall performance.
To provide greater clarity on how the home performs, indicators based on the key interests of the major participants – such as home occupants, developers and planners – are also rated. Indicators from a householder perspective, for example, are householder costs, positive impact on health and wellbeing, and environmental footprint. An example is provided of the HQM ‘scorecard’ that a home will receive – showing the overall rating and the ratings for each of the three householder indicators.
Over time, further indicators will be developed from different perspectives, including those of developers, financial institutions, landlords and local authorities.
What is measured?
The wide range of issues are measured and these are sub-divided within three sections:
- Delivery– the quality that a home has been designed and constructed in practice. This section rewards high quality assurance measure throughout the project during design, construction, handover and into in-use. This minimises the so-called performance gap and the home is truly capable of “doing what it says on the tin”.
- Our Surroundings – the value of the local area and ability to work with current and future surroundings and with what these may become through changes in population and climate, to maximise benefits and minimise impacts now and into the future.
- My Home – the provision of living spaces that are comfortable, healthy, cost effective and have reduced environmental impacts.
Within these sections there are eleven categories consisting of the following, which are then further sub-divided into 39 assessment issues:
- Transport & Movement
- Safety & Resilience
- Quality Assurance
- Construction Impacts
- Customer Experience
How is it scored?
There are two elements to the scoring approach taken within HQM. There is a single overarching Star Rating and a set of three Occupant Focused Indicators which represent the degree to which the home meets the requirements set out in each of the 39 distinct issues within HQM.
The Star Rating provides a simple comparative measure of the overall quality and performance of a new build home. This is based on a total HQM score which is calculated out of a maximum available 500 credits. The relative importance of different issues and criteria (and therefore the number of credits available within them) is based on the scoring methodology that underpins all BREEAM schemes, albeit tailored to the needs of the new build housing sector.
Unlike the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM, there is no weighting added to issues, although some issues will have significantly higher credit scores available than others, due to their perceived importance.
Homes are rated between 0 and 5 Star in 0.5 Star increments.
To date there has been very limited take up of this scheme nationally. Blewburton strongly supports the ethos and the merits of the HQM, although we believe it to be overly complicated in certain areas and there are still glitches within the scheme that need to be ironed out.
Having said that, our experience to date leads us to believe that a decent development can and will score well under this scheme, marking it out from less well thought out competitors and that once a developer has been through the scheme for the first time, future assessments should be significantly easier and slightly cheaper, as much of the process required will have been developed alongside the required standard paperwork.
If you would like more information on HQM or are interested in undertaking an HQM assessment, Blewburton would love to hear from you.