What do I need to consider when buying a new house?

Sarah Barnes - August 9th 2017

There are plenty of benefits in purchasing a newly built property. As the property and the contents are new, the buyer has fairly low repair and redecoration costs. A particular attraction can be choosing the colour and style of the fixtures and fittings and tailoring these elements to suit different tastes.  The majority of new build properties come with the benefit of new guarantees, particularly the NHBC 10 year warranty.  If the property is built to the correct standards, then the property is likely to have low running costs and energy bills.

However, although there are numerous advantages to owning a new property, before taking the plunge, it is advisable to consider and research the following:

Who is the builder?

It is worth researching the developer prior to making an offer to buy a property.  Is the developer well known?  Have they developed other sites in the area?  Online forums are a useful tool to check before agreeing to buy from a particular company.  As this will give you an idea as to whether their buyers have been happy with the quality of workmanship, the speed and the after sales service.

What do you know about the development?

You may be one of the first to agree to buy, however, if properties have already been sold and the site is fairly well developed with buyers already moved in, it may be worth speaking to your new neighbours to check how they have found the process.  Are there any major outstanding issues that you need to be aware of?

When would you like to move in?

This is always an important question, however, with new build properties, often the moving date cannot be finalised as the build is still in progress.  It is advisable to agree a long stop completion date (moving date) with the developer so that you can agree the absolute latest date you will move in.  Then any earlier, is a bonus.

How will you fund the purchase?

Your mortgage advisor will need to ensure that funding is in place, despite the fact there may be delays with the build.  Keeping the advisor up to date is vital.

Workmanship

Warranties will not cover the workmanship and the quality of the finishes.  You need to ensure that you are happy with every stage of the work before you complete.  Look carefully at the plans and specifications of the work being completed, including the design, measurements, type and quality of materials and finishes.  If you don’t monitor this, then the builder may change the specifications to a lessor quality.

Which warranties are in place and what do they cover?

NHBC and similar guarantees are supposed to give peace of mind for the first 10 years after construction of the property. The policy attaches to the property, so that it benefits future owners during the 10 year period.

Make sure there is a “snagging” provision in your contract to allow you to get little issues resolved, directly with the developer. During the first two years from completion of your home, NHBC will step in if you make a claim against the developer and the developer fails to carry out the remedial work.  Make sure you read the details of the proposed cover carefully.

Ensure that you diarise the two year time limit, because if you want to make a claim under the initial guarantee you must notify the developer (in writing and copied to NHBC) before it expires. Even though the claim is made to the developer, NHBC have a dispute resolution service which you can use free of charge.

For further information, please get in touch with me or a member of my team.