The idea of buying a new build can be very appealing: there is no chain to consider, saving buyers months of potential stress, and very often developers let new residents have free rein over the internal design finishes such as work surfaces and flooring.
Moreover, new builds come with a guarantee from the National House Building Council – if any defects are found within the first 10 years of residency, then they will be fixed free of charge. This is pretty pertinent in light of the recent complaints that new build residents have experienced in recent years.
Not all new builds are built equal, and if you’re thinking of buying brand new, you should be wary of the following risks.
The risks of buying a new build home
One of the obvious downsides to buying a new build is the premium price which, like brand new cars, can depreciate quickly. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, this can be as much as 10 per cent. A spokesperson said: “Approaches to the assessment of any new-build premium vary, and there is certainly no defined percentage of the selling price that can be ascribed with any confidence.”
In addition to this, new builds come with myriad fees based around their tenure. Many new builds, flats in particular, are what’s known as leasehold properties. This means that residents have to pay ground fees to “rent” the land upon which their property stands – something that buyers signed up to get away from.
In a 2018 survey, it was revealed that 24 per cent of us are concerned about the sizes of rooms in new builds. Indeed, many new builds are constructed in built-up areas with a view to housing as many people as possible, and this comes at the expense of a comfortable living area.
Most concerning however are the statistics on the build quality of new homes. According to the Home Builders’ Federation’s 2006-2015 Customer Satisfaction Surveys, an astonishing 93 per cent of new build homeowners discovered “preventable defects” in their homes. These ranged from uneven floorboards to cracks in walls.
Why are these problems happening?
The biggest contributor to the diminished quality of new builds is a pressure for housing. The ongoing housing crisis is making affordable homes out of reach for more and more people every day, which in turn encourages developers to erect smaller, faulty properties as quickly as possible.
In 2006, the Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS 3) replaced its 2000 PPG 3 predecessor, essentially relaxing the rules on provisions for parking and open spaces, thereby allowing developers to build more properties on smaller areas of land. This has resulted in ongoing concerns about storage space, parking costs and general quality of life.
How you can avoid the pitfalls
While not every new build suffers from the aforementioned issues, it’s best to carry out your own research when it comes to buying new. Look into the area, for example schools and crime rates, and ask neighbours if possible.
The best thing you can do however is carry out a “snagging survey” – a survey for new build homes – which examines everything from poor finishes to major structural issues. These generally cost £300-£600.
There is light at the end of the tunnel for new builds. For example, there is a proposed ban on leasehold new builds (though the date this will be enforced has yet to be confirmed). However, for many homeowners, it may feel like it is too late. If you have suffered with problems from your new build, join our Facebook group and speak to the team at Stratus Legal Solutions today.