With the demise of the code for sustainable homes there was a gap in the market for a domestic certification scheme. With a proven track record of creating and delivering certification schemes for non-domestic buildings through BREEAM, BRE developed the Home Quality Mark (HQM).

Christine Searing, one of GreenBuild Consult’s sustainability consultants, investigates.

HQM is a consumer-focussed standard because primarily the house is for the consumer. The name ‘Home Quality Mark’ was chosen to be as meaningful to as many people as possible, but only applies to new build, self contained units.

The scheme comprises three categories covering 35 elements; each property is then allocated a one to five star rating, depending on the total score achieved.

The assessment categories are as follows:

OUR SURROUNDINGS: covers site wide issues such as ecology, flood risk and transport.

MY HOME: evaluates the technical issues that consider the design and performance of the specific homes under construction.

KNOWLEDGE SHARING: ensures that quality is maintained through all stages of the development. It encourages communication, quality assurance, effective handover and aftercare support.

The scheme also incorporates three occupant-focussed indicators: ‘My cost’, ‘My wellbeing’ and ‘My footprint’. Each assessment issue has a relative contribution to the indicator ratings with each one having a final score from one to five.

The HQM differs from other BRE schemes because each of the 500 credits are weighted equally across all issues. It is therefore easier to see what each issue is worth as the more important issues are assigned more credits. There is only one mandatory criterion, which is to have a building warranty in place.

One advantage of the scheme for large developments and developers is the pre-approval of a house type. Once a house type has achieved its HQM rating, the house type can be pre-approved at the ‘My Home’ level, which means the scores can be applied to the same type of property on other sites. This makes the assessment process much quicker and provides more clarity on the anticipated HQM scores.

To date, there have been over 11,000 registrations under the HQM scheme. The beta version of the scheme is currently being trialled in England, with the new version expected to be live by mid-2018 — when it will be applicable to all new homes in England, Wales and Scotland.

GreenBuild Consult has recently become an approved HQM Assessor and is able to provide advice and HQM accreditation services to developers looking to adopt the scheme, so please do not hesitate to get in touch to see how they can best be of service.