October 19, 2017

Buying a new build? Here’s how to get it right


Moving into a brand new home is supposed to be hassle free but all too often we hear tales of delays, shoddy workmanship, leaks, cracks and builders shrugging it all off with a ‘not my problem, guv’.

In fact, more than 40 per cent of new-build homes fail to meet their original deadline, research by the New Homes Review suggests.

Furthermore, after moving in, 87 per cent of new build homeowners say that they had snags that required further work. 

Some 55 per cent of these had more than 10 snags and over a quarter said they went unresolved, resulting in problems with their warranties.

More than 40 per cent of new-build homes fail to meet their original delivery deadline

More than 40 per cent of new-build homes fail to meet their original delivery deadline

More than 40 per cent of new-build homes fail to meet their original delivery deadline

Kate Hughes, of New Homes Review, says: ‘This research reveals two sides to the home-build process. Close to 70 per cent of owners are happy with their property, once it is complete, but sadly getting to the complete stage causes issues.

‘It also highlights the importance of getting a warranty on your property.’

Paula Higgins, chief executive of consumer champion body the Homeowners Alliance, warns anyone looking to buy a newly built home to do their research on the developer properly. 

‘There are huge variations between the different developers and their approach to new builds,’ she says.

UNHAPPY HOMEOWNERS 

Some 26 per cent of homeowners weren’t happy with their builder and said they wouldn’t recommend them.

During the building process, 18 per cent gave a score of one out of 10 for their satisfaction – with this figure rising to 20 per cent post sale. 

At the other end of the scale, 24 per cent were completely satisfied with the home building process during the build, falling to 22 per cent post sale.

When asked the likelihood of recommending the builder, 26 per cent of homeowners scored them 0 out of 10, with the same percentage scoring their builder 10 out of 10.

‘We regularly hear horror stories about nightmare builders and new-build developments that are not fit for purpose – it’s been a particular issue in the press this year – but clearly not all developers are the same. 

‘While the complaints we hear from our members show developers of all sizes, from major brands to smaller names, have been guilty of delivering poor quality homes it’s clear there are some good firms operating in the market too.

‘It’s essential to research the developer before buying a new build. Look at their previous work, check what is said about them in online forums and never rely solely on their marketing materials – take what they say in their brochures with a very large pinch of salt.’

Buying a new build property does come with some big advantages, despite the issues raised by this research. 

If you commit early enough in the development, it’s often possible to choose the decoration, fixtures and fittings, getting rid of the headache of DIY that is so common to those moving into older and converted properties.

Tipping the balance so your new build is a dream house rather than a living nightmare isn’t always easy, especially if you haven’t owned a new home before. 

To help make sure you are armed with all of the right tools and questions before you sign on the developer’s dotted line, we’ve pulled together a handy checklist with the help of New Homes Review.  

What are the benefits of new build?

New build property often comes with the added benefit of choosing your own fixtures and fittings, colour scheme, flooring and so on. 

From the outset you can enjoy living in a low-maintenance new home without the need to spend time and money on decorating.

New builds also come with a 10-year warranty, such as the ones provided by Local Authority Building Control Warranty or Premier Guarantee, which will protect you from having to pay to fix any major structural defects affecting your home.

Apart from the peace of mind that you get with having a warranty, it also offers significant financial savings should any problems occur during the life of the warranty. 

New build homes have to adhere to minimum standards for energy efficiency. Overall, new-build homes are far cheaper to run and will dramatically reduce your household carbon footprint. 

They also come with higher levels of security and are built to the latest, strict safety standards.

Before you move in: Undertake a handover inspection with your developer to identify snags

Before you move in: Undertake a handover inspection with your developer to identify snags

Before you move in: Undertake a handover inspection with your developer to identify snags

What should you watch out for? 

For a new-build property it is essential that you undertake a handover inspection with your developer to identify any issues or snags.

New-build properties also require ‘running in’ to help the property settle.

Condensation 

It usually takes a period of about six months for the materials used to construct the home to dry out. To aid this process, do not block air bricks or vents, so when possible leave windows or trickle-vents open and close doors when taking a bath or shower to avoid moisture spreading.

Salt deposits 

If salt deposits – appearing as white streaks – occur on internal and external walls wipe them away. If the problem persists it could indicate a water leak, in which case you should contact your developer.

Cracks in the walls 

 If cracks appear, leave them for a few months before trying to seal them

All new houses go through a period of shrinkage where timber and plaster resizes. This can cause surface cracking to walls, but don’t be alarmed – these cracks aren’t usually structurally problematic.

To minimise them, maintain a low background heat in the house all the time and try not to leave the heating on too high. If cracks appear, leave them for a few months before trying to seal them and when redecorating, use good quality filler on any gaps.

If you think the cracks are more significant, report them to your developer as they may indicate structural movement.

Water leakage 

Leaks sometimes do occur so if you see any evidence of water staining on walls and ceilings, report it immediately to your developer.

Snagging 

Keep an eye out for any scuffs, scratches or marks on walls, surfaces or appliances and make your developer aware so that they can be rectified.



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