Why Even Newly Built Properties May Have Problems
Many buyers believe that it is preferable to purchase a new build property as it promises worry-free homeownership. However, as appealing as a new build may be, it’s important to understand that there are many potential problems to be aware of before committing to a new home. A YouGov survey on behalf of Shelter found that 51% of new build buyers in England experienced major problems like construction issues, faults with utilities and unfinished fittings.
Unfortunately, buyers are likely to discover these problems once they have moved into their new home and that then leads to a back and forth with the builder, causes delays and even extra expense to remedy long-term. Here are some common issues with new build properties to be aware of.
Poorly Fitted Windows and Doors
Windows and doors that haven’t been properly installed can cause a variety of problems, the most common being draughts, moisture leakage or a general reduction in safety and security. You may also discover that your windows and internal and external doors have been scratched or damaged when being installed into the property. Room doors may stick, or bind over your new carpets, needing to be trimmed.
Poorly Fitted Loft Insulation
Poorly fitted loft insulation may not be easy to spot at first, but it can have a significant impact on your energy bills. The interior ceilings, walls and floors in your home should feel warm and dry. When drywall and panelling inside a home feels damp or cold, there is probably not enough or badly fitted insulation. Alternatively, when touching an exterior wall from outside, it should feel cold because insulation is keeping warm air inside a home.
You may believe that by buying a new build property, you are preventing any risk of damp and mould, which are usually present in much older properties in the UK. However, condensation occurs in a new build property due to the amount of moisture used in the building process itself. As a new build can take up to 12 months to dry out completely, since they are built to keep heat and warm air inside, and without much ventilation being provided, moisture tends to remain and cause damp and possibly mould.
Be sure to keep your windows or any trickle vents fitted open and allow air to circulate freely around the room. Large furniture must be placed away from outer walls, and curtains must not touch floors, for the same reasons.
Pointing means the neatened mortar joints which hold your bricks together. While bricks will last for a long time, the mortar will need to be checked more frequently to ensure there are no gaps from weather erosion, maybe once a year. Gaps in between the brickwork can cause damp entry and frost damage. Brick repointing can be expensive, but it’s essential to preserve the look and life of your property – and it’s value.
Cracks in Walls
Interior or exterior walls can experience cracks from the outset. Many new build properties will also experience settlement cracks, which occur as the property settles into its foundations. Settlement is NOT subsidence, it’s the natural settling of the dead weight of the new building onto the foundations, and is usually shown by only hairline width cracking. The length of this process can differ, experts have previously stated that it takes just nine months to settle, whereas others have advised at least three years. External factors will also contribute to this time, such as weather and climate.
Depending on when you move into your new build home, you may not notice an issue with your gutters straightaway. However, poor maintenance, nearby trees dropping debris, or misalignment – low spots – can cause them to get blocked and might cause rainwater to back up under the roof.
Professional Homebuyers’ Survey for a New Build Property
Despite these common issues that new builds are likely to come with, many people still decide not to carry-out any kind of impartial inspection. This may be due to a big advantage of buying a new build property is that they come with a standard 10-year new build home warranty, such as NHBC. This includes an initial 2-year defects insurance period, followed by an 8-year period on major structural defects for the remainder – BUT that 8-year period starts when the building reaches “substantial completion” – almost completed even if not all fittings are totally finished, and not when you buy it. If the home has stood empty six or twelve months before it is bought, that time is running away.
Fixtures and fittings are only covered during those first two years, and the builder will be obliged to come and fix them. Natural shrinkage from drying-out and related cracking is not covered. However, once the structural insurance period kicks-in, the builder is only responsible for major problems with the structure of the building itself. Even that may be fraught with disputes about how serious a fault may be.
Although it’s worth noting that you do have some initial cover with your new home warranty, it makes good financial sense to invest in an impartial survey to ensure that you’re fully briefed on your new home and are informed to rectify any problems as soon as possible.
RICS Condition Report
Based on a traffic light system, the RICS condition report focuses on the general condition of the very recently built property only and flags up any areas that need attention. This concise, expert report is designed to be easy to understand with its traffic light system and will help you prioritise issues with your builder to guarantee that any significant concerns are dealt with before moving-in day. It’s not a detailed, fully comprehensive inspection, but gives you some assurance.
The Eyesurvey Approach
For over 30 years our Essex and Suffolk based surveyor team has helped numerous people with property related issues quickly and effectively so they can continue with their everyday life. We have over 50 years’ experience in the property profession so there is nothing we have not dealt with!
We make it easy to ensure that you have all the information you need quickly, impartially, and at the best value possible. Let us help take the stress out of your new build purchase, contact us today to find out more.
Les Long FRICS FISVA Principal, Eyesurvey
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