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Buying a Brand New or Almost New Home

The number of new homes being built in the UK is rising, up by 10% last year – with many more approved. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a new-build home, and do you need a building survey?

Brand new homes are currently proving an attractive option for many people across the country, with a number of finance schemes and sweeteners available. This includes the Help to Buy scheme, plus discounts specifically aimed at first-time buyers buying on brownfield sites, as well as developers’ own offers.

However, if these factors and others do persuade you to buy a new-build home, deciding against a survey may prove to be a false economy. Our advice would be that a building survey or snagging survey would still be needed for a brand new home, to protect your major investment.

Advantages of Buying a New Build Home

One major advantage of buying a brand-new property is that you can often take advantages of deals from builders. These can include part-exchange, an attractive option if you are finding it hard to sell your current home.

You may also find you need to put up a lower deposit than would be required for an older property. Another attraction of buying a new home is that it can seem more straightforward than buying an older one, without the need to worry about a chain.

Additionally, a new home should have higher levels of energy efficiency, including insulation, than many older properties. You will also be able to have the house decorated to suit your own tastes, rather than having to live with someone else’s choices.

Alternatively, if you choose an “almost new” property, one major advantage is that the previous occupant will already have finished it off and dealt with any snagging defects. It could also mean you are moving into a completed development, rather than having to live alongside building work and half-finished amenities. It’s also often possible to save money by buying a home which is a few years old, since there is a premium for brand new properties.

Disadvantages of Buying New-Build

New houses are often smaller than older ones, meaning less living space for you. This may not strike you when you look around a show home, since furnishings and even appliances may be scaled down to make the property seem more spacious. However, when you move in and have to fit in all your belongings, it can be a different story.

Another disadvantage of buying a new property is the various small problems that can crop up, known as snagging defects. While not always serious, these problems can cause inconvenience and loss of time, as well as added costs. In addition to this, more serious problems, such as difficulties with drainage, may only become apparent later on.

Anyone buying a brand new home will also need to budget for extra costs such as having to install various fixtures and fittings, taken for granted when moving into an established home. There is also the expense and time needed to establish a garden.

NHBC Guarantee/Buildmark

When you move into a new-build, it is likely it will come with an initial warranty. The best-known scheme is Buildmark, for firms registered with the National House Building Council (NHBC). This provides a ten-year guarantee, but it is important to know what is and isn’t covered, and to realise that the cover will change and reduce over the period.

During the first two years, the main cover is actually provided by the builder. After that period, the cover is provided via an insurance policy and only applies to major damage as a result of structural and drainage defects .This means that you may have to pick up the bill for other problems which only become apparent after the initial two years.

Also, if you are buying a house which has already been occupied for a few years, then cover under the guarantee will be limited because the first two years have already gone. Even where a problem is covered by a warranty, it can prove complicated to claim, so it is advisable to do everything you can to check out your investment.

Reasons to Have a Survey

A full building survey is advisable even for a nearly new home, and we would always advise against relying on a valuation alone, since this is carried out for the lender and not the buyer. A lot of problems can occur even with a brand new or nearly new home.

A brand new home will be ‘snagged’ by the developer or builder prior to handover. However, in our experience this is in no way comprehensive enough. As the property is new it is very unlikely there will be significant structural issues and all the elements are in ‘as new’ condition so won’t have deteriorated and should not require maintenance for some time. For a new build we advise that a detailed ‘snagging survey’ is done. This will inspect the overall finish and standard of workmanship. For example:

Externally – Is the brickwork/render finished to an acceptable standard? Is the roof constructed properly adequately ventilated and insulated? Are any cladding, fascias, soffitts or bargeboards square level and properly installed?

Internally – Are the floors level, are the kitchen and bathroom fittings properly installed, are the plastered walls level and square and wall/floor tiling installed to an acceptable standard?

Additionally, there can be technical problems with construction, boundary or even rights of access problems, or a home’s walls taking in moisture, leading to cracks condensation and mould. Often you will only become aware of these problems sometimes months or even years after moving in, unless you arrange a survey at the outset. If a problem is flagged up early on, it is more likey you can get it dealt with at the builder’s expense.

For your peace of mind, the answer is to arrange for an independent chartered building surveyor to look at the property and give you a full building survey or snagging report. Anderson Associates are highly experienced in carrying out building surveys or snagging reports across South-East London and East London, as well as Essex, Kent and Suffolk.

Our website has examples of both these types of surveys you can look at. These include details of the types of issues we commonly find with these types of properties.

Click here to find out about arranging a building survey or snagging report , or call us on 01473 623 656 or freephone 0800 652 8285.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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