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May 29, 2007

Guide to Buying a New Build Property

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by Brian Turner

Guide to Buying a New Build Property

When it comes to buying a home and exploring the property market, it’s hard to ignore the number of new build properties that are available.

While your home purchase may well be dependent on your actual budget, there are usually a variety of different building and development companies in most areas offering homes at a range of pricing levels.

Let’s be clear – traditional properties usually trump new build properties both in terms of buyer interest and also build quality. After all, those Victorian and Georgian villas were built at a time when quality and style were everything, and shareholders weren’t even a passing concern.

However, the likelihood is that most of these properties are unavailable to many home buyers, let alone first time buyers.

A key advantage of new build properties, though, is that they are usually built across a variety of budget ranges. Government targets on affordability mean that many property developments have to take account of “affordable” housing needs, and that means anything from flats, townhouses, semi-detached and even small deteched properties on most developments.

So there’s usually something available for most reasonable property budgets.

A lot of national developers have also taken it upon themselves to provide unique styles of houses, so that they won’t simply be pleasant to live in, but also to look at as well.

And with a NHBC certificate offering a guarantee on build quality, you are offered some degree of peace of mind regarding the construction quality of a new build.

There are common problems with new build properties, though.

A big concern is that because the biggest developers are profit-driven for share-holders, many have taken to hiring the cheapest local labour to provide development services on all aspects of the building process and finishing. And not all of this labour may be up to standard.

The result is that many new built properties can and do suffer from various problems, from minor issues on finishing, to major issues such as incorrectly installed boilers, windows, and similar that could prove expensive to repair.

The fact of the matter is that the failure of quality control and supervision from the building contractors means that when buying a new build property, you need to expect problems.

You do have some recourse, though – a NHBC guarantee is usually provided with new build properties, and while they are primary served on the structural integrity of the new build, they also ensure that a develop is responsible for all repairs during the first two years after completion.

So if you do move into a new build, try everything out, and note any problems whatsoever, informing the developer of these in writing. So long as the property is less than two years old, you can force the developer to make any reasonable repairs to the property. Because after that two year period, the builder can only be held liable for structural issues.

Another big problem with new built properties is that many developers are keen to build wherever they can, and low quality land offers the ability for local councils to cope with housing shortages, while offering the developers big profits.

A major concern at present is that a lot of new build properties are being developed on flood plains, despite objections raised by the Environmental Agency. The result is that the shiny new home could end up being a water-logged disaster at some point in the future.

The speed of housing development means that often there are inadequate flooding defences to protect such areas, and while some degree of defence may be written into a development contract, the bottom line is that it is the homeowners who will end up taking the long term risks, not the developers or councils.

Therefore when looking at a new build development, do take a look at the surrounding area – get an idea of how close the site is to any nearby water courses, and take into account any reasonable flood defences. Take a look on the Environmental Agency’s website to find out if the site post code is regarded as a flooding hazard, but also use a little common sense.

Global Warming may seem like a distant environmental concern when buying a house, but do take into account that predictions don’t center simply on rising sea levels, but also increased river flooding due to storms, predicted to become more frequent.

Overall, a new built property doesn’t have to be a bad decision – I’ve live in some lovely new builds – but they have all had issues of some degree.

The important points to bear in mind are to ensure you are happy that the development area itself itself should be free of foreseeable problems – and if so, to ensure that you identify and quickly correct any actual problems found within a new build property.

Ensuring you cover these important factors means that a new build property should be as pleasant and as enjoyable as a home as any other on the market.


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