The Guardian was made aware of the practice, after a new-build home adviser revealed a family they were helping had received an offer from NHBC to buy back their sub-standard home and pay their removal costs, on the condition they did not disclose the agreement.
The adviser went on to say that other people have complained of problems with their new-build homes and then go silent on the issue.
NHBC offers buyers of new-build homebuyers insurance, under the Buildmark brand, to cover the cost of rectifying damage to specified areas of the house, in years three to 10 of the build. The builder is responsible for dealing with problems which occur in the first two years of the life of the property, but the Buildmark warranty promises to pick up the bill should the builder fail to fulfil their responsibilities.
The non-disclosure agreements which were brought to light, prohibit the homeowner from contacting the media about the problems they have experienced with their properties and also from sharing details with other owners in the development.
A spokesperson for NHBC said a confidentiality clause was only included in a small number of rare circumstances. It would not disclose the number.
The spokesperson added: “Buildmark is an insurance product. Claims made are settled either by NHBC arranging for repairs to be carried out, or paying the homeowner the cost of doing so. “When we make a payment, we ask the homeowner to sign a letter to acknowledge that the payment settles their claim. These letters do not include confidentiality or non-disclosure clauses,” they said.
“Only in a small number of rare circumstances will we include a confidentiality clause on settling a claim. In line with standard practice in the insurance industry, and to protect commercial confidentiality, this would be in specific cases that are subject to a formal legal agreement or when NHBC has agreed to meet the costs of a claim over and above the Buildmark policy requirements.”