Top tips for new build buyers
1. Check how well the site is managed. Ask whether the Site Manager has won any industry awards and speak to the people who have already moved in to get a feel for the quality of the workmanship and customer care.
2. Research the house builder on the Internet. New Build Inspections is in the process of compiling dossiers for each the major house builders in the UK.
3. Check that the house has a warranty from Zurich Municipal, the NHBC or Premier. However, these do not guarantee that your home will be free from defects and are primarily insurance schemes for the developer not the home owner.
4. Check if there is an affordable housing provision on the site. If there is, find out whether these homes will be managed by a housing association. Although this is unlikely to cause problems the developer may try to hide this from you, which affects your ability to make an informed decision about your purchase.
5. Measure your property including ceiling height to determine whether your furniture will fit. Pay particular attention to the stairs and don’t forget the garage, these are often designed for ‘average’ cars.
6. Check the site and house plans carefully, especially if you are buying off-plan. Remember that the marketing material may use artist impressions and should not be regarded as accurate. If you feel your property has been misdescribed, contact your local Trading Standards Office, who may prosecute the developer under the Property Misdescription Act 1991.
7. Remember you are not buying the show home and you may not even be buying the same style of house. Try to get a tour of the style of property you are buying, which may involve going to another development.
8. Make sure you negotiate. The developer is unlikely to reduce the price, but flooring, landscaping, fencing and curtains are all up for grabs. Try not to appear too keen, if you want to get the best deals.
9. Extra care is required at the end of the developer’s financial year, as targets have to be met and corners may be cut to meet them. You could be moved you into a property that is not complete with significant remedial work required. However, developers may offer generous incentives at this time of year to meet their targets, especially if they have unsold homes which are build-complete or nearing completion.
10. Instruct a conveyancing solicitor with a track record of negotiating retentions and delaying completion due to defects and snags, using the cheapest company you can find on the Internet will be a false economy. The developer may recommend a solicitor to ‘speed things up’, but there may be a hidden agenda.
11. If you need to be in your new property by a particular date ask your solicitor about getting the completion date written into the contract.
12. Get your house professionally inspected by an independent snagging company that does not work for housing developers, such as New Build Inspections Ltd. Ideally, this should be done before legal completion, so that the developer will have time to address the defects and snags identified before you move in. If you cannot afford this and you plan to do it yourself use the Snagging Checklist available from Snagging.org for just £14.99.
13. If you have an NHBC warranty re-inspect your house every six-months during the first two years and notify your developer in writing of any faults you discover. The developer is obliged to fix them, if they don’t the NHBC will. However, faults caused by normal shrinkage and drying out are not currently covered by this warranty.
14. Don’t skimp on your home insurance. Get a home and contents policy which includes legal protection which will be useful if you need to take the developer to court.