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Allured by the idea of being the first people to live in a home and not having to undertake renovations, new-builds are an appealing option for many people who are looking to move house.
Whether you’re considering a large, executive home with several bedrooms or a more modest first time property, buying a new-build isn’t always as seamless as you might think. In fact, according to some reports, 99% of new home owners reported problems including snags or defects in their new home, and of these, 69% experienced over five problems.
Here are our top tips for buying a new-build home.
The majority of buyers will usually have to purchase a property off-plan – based on “house-types” -so there isn’t usually anything physical to see. In the absence of being able to the finished home that you will be buying, you’ll need to look at the different options that are available and choose the style of property and your plot carefully. Each plot will have its own nuances – with slight differences in outlook, plot layout levels, and potentially size. If a plot is cheaper than the others that are available, there is usually a reason for it! Asking to view the plot’s position itself before committing to the purchase can be useful in helping to make a decision, but may not be possible due to health and safety issues on development sites.
Buying one of the first houses that are completed on a new-build site is always a bit of a risk. This is because the first houses to be built are a learning process for contractors – as with any prototype, there can often be faults that need rectifying. Buying a property that is due for completion mid-way through a development is ideal as any issues identified during the first few houses should have been ironed out.
When buying a new-build property, the only thing buyers usually have to go on is a show home. However, buyers will need to remember that a new-build only usually comes as a ‘shell’; with very minimal décor and without furnishings. Many new-build homes will come without carpets or floor coverings, and may only have a minimal level of tiling in bathrooms and kitchens, but there will be a choice of add-ons. Developers will often use additional furnishings as incentives when negotiating a sale. If you’re buying a property that doesn’t have its own drive, be sure to enquire what parking spaces come with the property (if any) and consider trying to negotiate on this.
When buying a new home, many people fall under a false sense of security, thinking that as they are buying a new-build, the property will be in perfect condition. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case, with statistics showing that the majority of people moving into new-builds find defects. Additionally, although buyers are afforded some protection under NHBC warranty, after the first two years have passed, this cover becomes fairly limited.
A snagging survey is a special kind of survey offered by Chartered Surveyors that is designed specifically to check for problems with a new-build home. Ideally completed during the period between building work being finished and the legal completion date, a snagging report will highlight any defects – be they minor or major – that are present in the property. Taking the step of having a snagging survey completed can go a long way to ensuring a higher standard of finish when it comes to moving-in day.
Due to the nature of buildings, some defects may not show until you’ve been living in the home for some time. For example, if a pipe is leaking, this will only show after water has been dripping out for some time, the same with any issues with pointing or guttering that could give rise to water entering the property. Although a snagging survey will limit the chance of this happening by identifying issues before they escalate, it is worth staying vigilant and acting quickly to notify the developer. Any defects that fall outside of the first two years of the house being completed that are deemed as ‘minor’ will likely not be covered by NHBC warranty.
Over the years, we have seen every kind of defect in new-build homes – from relatively minor issues such as doors that don’t close due to poor joinery to off-level tiling, right through to more serious defects including leaking roofs, water entry due to cavity tray defects, extensive render problems, structural cracking to walls due to poor construction standards, etc.
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