New build houses, and more specifically poorly built new build houses, have sadly become a regular feature in the media particularly a number of horror stories regarding shoddy new build houses. I suggest some tips that will hopefully ensure that your new home is up to scratch:-
- Visit the building site
By now you will have presumably seen the show house but I think you should push a little bit deeper and have a tour of the site as is. Most developments are built in stages so you should be able to walk around part of the finished development. A well-organised site is no guarantee of a well-ordered build but an untidy and messy site probably won’t help.
Get an idea of the size of the development so that you do not find yourself living on a building site for a number of years whilst the final phases are completed.
- Ask a new owner
There will probably be people already in their new houses and don’t be afraid to approach them as they will generally let you know of the snagging issues they have had. This can alert you to look for them in your new house. They will also let you know how helpful the on-site builder’s workers and tradesmen were.
- Is size everything?
New houses are getting smaller. Study the measurements of each room and measure them yourself (if you can) and make sure that they are reasonably similar to the plans you have received in any brochure or marketing materials. Bear in mind that a “trick” that developers often use is to have small sized furniture in the show house to enhance the size of the room. If you are moving from an existing property ask yourself whether your old furniture will fit comfortably into the new house.
- Ask a builder
It doesn’t really matter how many editions of home renovation programmes you have watched on TV, if you are not an expert then spotting construction problems when you are not a property specialist is hard. A client recently used one of her contacts (a senior building contracts manager) to ensure that ventilation issues in the roof of her new house where properly identified and then resolved with the onsite construction manager.
- Do a snagging survey
Once you have received notification from the builder that the house is ready to complete – normally two weeks later – you will usually be invited to do a snagging survey. You will be able to identify obvious problems but you might want to think about instructing a professional surveyor to undertake a full snagging survey. One of our clients recently did this and for a fee of approximately £500 received a full report along with a photographic schedule of issues. She was later able to use the report as a checklist to make sure that the builder had resolved all necessary snagging issues.
- Has your road been adopted?
Once the developer has completed the road that your new home is on, they usually pass it to the Council to be looked after. If they don’t, the road is “unadopted” and homeowners will be liable for repairs and will need insurance in case anyone is injured. Your Solicitor should have advised about this issue during the house buying process. (You should use your own selected Solicitor. Don’t use a Solicitor recommended by the house builder as you want somebody impartial and on your side prepared to flag up difficult issues, after all, this is going to be a major financial commitment for you and your family.)
- Building Warranties
A typical NHBC Warranty provides for a ten-year warranty covering structural defects and a two-year warranty covering snagging issues. You should ensure that your new build house has at least this cover or something similar. You should be prepared to use it and ensure all snagging issues are completed.
- Freehold or Leasehold
If it is a leasehold purchase make sure you fully understand the obligations of the Lease in terms of ground rent, service charge etc. Make sure that you fully understand that the ground rent and service charge may well increase which can make future payments onerous and the property less saleable. If you are buying a freehold property, please be aware that on many modern estates with public areas you may well be subject to service/estate management charges to deal with the cutting of grass verges; communal play areas; community open spaces;etc
If you require any advice about the conveyancing process or any of the issues identified in this article please contact our conveyancing team on 0151 231 6620.