Legal

What to Know When Buying a New Build Property in England and Wales

Buying a new build property in England and Wales can be an exciting venture, offering modern designs, energy efficiency, and the opportunity to be the first owner.

27 Oct 2023

Team name
Dawn Verney

Dawn Verney

However, purchasing a new build comes with its own set of considerations and unique aspects that buyers should be aware of. From understanding warranties and contracts to navigating snagging issues and managing completion dates, being well-informed is crucial.

We explore key factors to consider when buying a new build property in the UK.

Researching the Developer

Before committing to a new build property, it is essential to research the developer and their track record. Look into their reputation, previous projects, and customer reviews. Establishing the developer’s credibility and understanding their commitment to quality construction and customer satisfaction can provide reassurance about the reliability of the project.

Comprehensive Inspection and Snagging

While new build properties are expected to be in pristine condition, it is important to conduct a thorough inspection and snagging process before completion. Snagging refers to identifying and rectifying any defects, minor issues, or unfinished work in the property. Engaging a professional surveyor can help ensure that all necessary repairs and finishing touches are addressed before you take possession of the property.

Dawn Verney said “It is important to note that if the builder is a member of the National House Building Council (NHBC), for the first two years after completion, the builder will be responsible for any repairs.  Thereafter until the expiry of the 10 year period, the insurance policy will cover any repairs.”

Understanding Warranties and Guarantees

New build properties typically come with warranties and guarantees that provide protection against structural defects and substandard workmanship. The most common warranty provider is the NHBC Buildmark warranty, but other providers, such as Premier Guarantee and LABC Warranty, also offer similar coverage. Familiarise yourself with the details of the warranty, including its duration, coverage, and any additional guarantees provided by the developer.

Dawn Verney said “A 10 year warranty is generally offered by way of a new build warranty and it is important to ensure that the builder provides such adequate cover and that the provider is also acceptable for mortgage purposes”.

Contract Considerations

Reviewing the purchase contract thoroughly is crucial when buying a new build property. Pay close attention to the payment schedule, completion dates, and any contingencies or conditions that need to be met before completion. Ensure that the contract includes provisions for potential delays, penalties, and dispute resolution mechanisms. Seeking legal advice from a property lawyer specialising in new build transactions can help clarify any uncertainties and protect your interests.

Dawn Verney further advises that “ensuring that you have checked the small print is essential.   Check that there are no hidden costs, such as having to bear the builder’s legal costs.   Make sure any design agreement costs, including extra fixtures and fittings which you  have agreed with the builder,  are clearly set out in the contract”.

Completion Dates and Delays

Completion dates for new build properties can sometimes be subject to delays due to construction issues or external factors beyond the developer’s control. Maintaining open communication with the developer and staying informed about the progress of the construction can help manage expectations and ensure a smooth transition to your new home.

Dawn Verney adds:  “When first agreeing to purchase a new build, ensure that there is absolute clarity from the outset with the builder as to whether you will be given a fixed completion date on exchange or whether completion will be on notice from the builders when the property is finished.    If you are also selling a property, it is important that your buyers and any chain are made aware from the outset that they may not have a fixed completion date on exchange.  If completion is to be on notice from the builders once the property is finished, then it is imperative that a long stop date is agreed in the Contract and that you ensure that you have a valid mortgage offer until the long stop date”.

Ongoing Development and Amenities

Consider the surrounding area and any ongoing development plans that may impact the property and its surroundings in the future. Research the local amenities, such as schools, transportation links, shops, and recreational facilities, to ensure they meet your requirements. Being aware of any planned infrastructure projects or changes in the vicinity can help you make an informed decision about the long-term prospects of the area.

Everything you need to know

Buying a new build property offers many advantages, but it requires careful consideration and due diligence. Researching the developer, conducting comprehensive inspections, and understanding warranties and guarantees are crucial steps to ensure the property meets your expectations. Thoroughly reviewing the purchase contract, managing completion dates and potential delays, and staying informed about ongoing development in the area will contribute to a successful purchase. By being well-informed and seeking professional advice when needed, buyers can navigate the process of buying a new build property and embark on their homeownership journey with confidence.

M&P Commentary

Dawn Verney, Conveyancing Executive in our Residential Property team, said:

“From the minute you decide to purchase a new build home, timescales will play a big part in this process.   Builders will often require exchange of contracts within a certain period of time, from making your reservation.  This can sometimes be as quick as 28 days from reservation.   You must ensure that you are aware of any time constraints which are being imposed.   If you have a related sale, it is also important that you convey this to all parties in your chain.   Communications from the outset are key to ensuring a smooth transaction and swift conclusion.”

If you are thinking of buying a new build property and require any advice or indeed an estimate of costs, then please contact Dawn Verney in our Residential Property team on 01708 784004.

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