There are few things more exciting than moving into a brand-new home. It is a great feeling to have spotless carpets, fresh paintwork and sparkly fittings. Better still, you should escape many of the problems associated with an old home, such as rusty pipes, dodgy electrics, leaky windows, or damp and rot. But that doesn’t mean your new home will be problem-free.
Nothing is perfect, and new homes tend to have teething problems, or “snags” to use the building industry jargon. You’ve got the right to expect the builder to sort them out free of charge, so make sure you’re in a position to use it.
Good as new, but not for long
Newly built homes are rarely perfect. Typically, you can expect a number of “snags”, where the builder has failed to finish the job properly. Perhaps the roof leaks, the windows jam, or a door scrapes across the carpet. Or maybe there are more serious problems. Inspect the property before you move in and make a “snag list”, which the builder should quickly rectify. As new homes “settle” in the years after they have been built, you might discover cracks in the drawings, plaster or brickwork.
This shouldn’t be a problem, provided your builder is registered with the National House-Building Council (NHBC), an organisation that aims to raise standards in the building industry and protect new homebuyers. Confirm this before you agree to buy the property.
Right on the mark
If your builder is registered with the NHBC, your home will be covered by the 10-year NHBC’s construction warranty and insurance cover, called Buildmark. This will pay to put right any damage or defects that appear during the first two years after you have completed your purchase. It will also cover any structural damage your home suffers, during years three to 10. Without cover, you could end up paying thousands of pounds to foot the bill yourself.
And if you sell the home within 10 years, the balance of the cover can be transferred to the new owner, making your property a more appealing to prospective buyers. You should also check that you are covered for legal expenses cover should you need any legal representation.
Safe and sound
The guarantee should also protect you if the builder goes bankrupt between completing your house, and any problem with the property appearing. The NHBC also offers a claims resolution service, to resolve disputes between homeowners and builders. Your lender may even insist that your builder or developer is registered with the NHBC before it will grant a mortgage to buy the property. This gives it the security of knowing your home is built to specific standards.
You shouldn’t have to pay for Builmark, your builder should included in the purchase price of your property. Around 80 per cent of new UK homes are registered with the NHBC. Ask to see your builder or developer’s NHBC registration number to confirm they are correctly registered. Or you can carry out a builder check on the NHBC register.
What doesn’t it cover?
The NHBC guarantee will only protect you against builder negligence. It doesn’t cover wear and tear, condensation, natural shrinkage and “drying out”, and minor faults that appear after the second year. It also won’t cover you for any problems caused by your failure to maintain the property.
Nor does it cover you against accidental damage, or flooding and other extreme weather, so it makes sense to take out ordinary household buildings insurance as well. You will also want to insure your personal belongings, which can add up to tens of thousands of pounds, and you will do this by taking out contents insurance.
Find cheap cover
Most insurers view new-built properties as less risky than existing buildings, so you might benefit from lower premiums. But there are other things you can do to keep the cost of cover down. Chaning your excess amount on your policy could also lower the overall cost.
Consider installing burglar alarms and security lights, to deter thieves. Make sure that all boundary fencing is completed quickly, to avoid tempting opportunistic burglars. You loved your shiny new home when you first moved in. Checking that you have the correct builder’s guarantees, and backing this up with insurance, should help you keep it that way.
Find out more about home insurance