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HomeOwners Alliance

HomeOwners Alliance

The HomeOwners Alliance champions the interests of Britain’s homeowners and aspiring homeowners, providing unbiased and practical advice as well as services you can trust whether you are buying, selling or owning your home.


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Buying a New Home – Your Rights Explained

Buying a newly built home (a house or a flat) is a complex process and, if the quality of the home is poor, can sometimes lead to disappointment. This Guide will help you know your rights, as well as what to do if defects appear.

This guide is for you if you’re the first buyer of an off-plan new home from a developer (newly constructed, or perhaps newly converted from – or part of – an existing building). If you are a second or later buyer of your home, see the section on Second or later buyer of a newly built home.

In July 2016, a group of MPs, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, published a report into new homes: More homes, fewer complaints. The report found that, though more homes are now being built (but still not enough to meet demand), the quality of what is being built has declined.

Here is what one consumer is facing:

  • Skirting boards pulling away from walls (I can fit coins in the gaps)
  • Light switches left unsecured and unfitted to the wall
  • Lights throughout the property flicker constantly
  • Little or no sound proofing. Developer has refused to give their site specifications
  • Three inches of pooling water in the back garden
  • No door in the property meets fire regulations standard, despite the developer
    replacing them three times.

How could situations like this be avoided, or at least reduced? The report suggests several bold measures – none yet implemented by government or industry-wide. Consumers need to be more aware of their rights and understand what they can do to protect themselves, as well as what to do when things go wrong with a new home.

Purpose of this Guide

This Guide is a step towards informing consumers where they stand. It comes from a Research Group based in the Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution (part of the Dickson Poon School of Law), King’s College London, in association with HomeOwners Alliance.

It applies only to England & Wales, as both Northern Ireland and Scotland have different rules and procedures. Under devolution, Wales is starting to adopt its own building regulations for new construction projects; these differ from those in England. If your home is in Wales, make sure you are aware which regulations apply.

General guidance is no substitute for professional help on a specific situation, so please contact a skilled expert if you need detailed advice or representation. There are suggestions in this Guide about how to find such a person; or you can contact HomeOwners Alliance to help.

Download Buying a New Home PDF