The UK private housebuilding sector: social media perspectives

Nigel Craig, Nick Pilcher, Rebecca MacKenzie, Christopher Boothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose
The UK private housebuilding sector is the key supplier of new-build homes for customers, constituting a fifth of the entire UK construction industry. Yet, despite the high average cost of houses, and official reports advocating improvement, the sector remains blighted by criticism and a negative image of its quality. However, social media now offers customers new sources of advice and information. In this context, the purpose of this paper is to analyse social media forum posts from new-build homebuyers to reveal perceptions of the industry and illustrate the value of such data for others.

Design/methodology/approach
This paper presents and thematically analyses 147 comment posts from nine online Facebook forums under the themes of safety; standards; quality; workmanship; customer service; finance and money; advice; National House Building Council; ombudsman; and page closures.

Findings
Customers express frustration, anger, feelings of neglect and of an abdication of responsibility by the sector. Fundamentally, change is suggested at a systemic level, and it is urged this occurs through powerful and independent bodies.

Originality/value
To date, social media data has not been analysed in the context of the housebuilding sector. Yet, such data is key not only for its open and wide-reaching nature but also because it can be incorporated into government reports. It is hoped such data will be used by the new home ombudsman the UK Government hopes to establish in 2020 and help rectify many of the performance issues experienced and protect homebuyers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis
Early online date24 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • customer satisfaction
  • defects
  • quality
  • social media
  • ombudsman
  • private housebuilding sector

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