In an ideal world, it shouldn’t happen. You ought to be able to move into a new-build home without any problems, a beautiful building crafted with care to the standard you expect. But in the real world, a new build property can come with all sorts of fixes, and that’s why, since 2005, the House Builders Federation (HBF) and the new homes warranty scheme the NHBC have put in place an annual survey to pin down consumer satisfaction levels.
New home build quality is falling right now
The 2017-2018 survey revealed that while 86% of buyers were satisfied overall with the quality of the build and 87% would recommend the builder, 34% of new home buyers said the property came with more problems than they’d expected. A less-than-impressive 42% said they’d had to report more than ten issues to the builder, and over a quarter claimed they’d had to report more than 16 problems. Overall the numbers are worse now than they were in 2015.
How consumer laws and regulations leave new build buyers stranded
At the same time, property buying is not protected by the UK’s current consumer laws, unusual since buying a home is probably the biggest expense most of us will ever face. If you buy a car or a radio you’re in a better position as a consumer than you are buying a house, since property is exempt from the Sale and Supply of Goods Act. So what do you do if you find problems in a new build home?
10 years of protection via the NHBC Warranty
Every new home should come with a warranty. Homes less than a decade old fall under the NHBC scheme, something mortgage lenders insist on. In 80% of cases it’s the Buildmark policy from NHBC, but yours could be either a BLP policy or one from LABC, Premier Guarantee or Checkmate. Whichever you have, they all work in much the same way.
- For the first two years, you’re covered for most new building defects except minor ones and wear and tear. If there’s a problem you contact the builder direct. If the builder isn’t in business any more, you need to contact the NHBC itself
- It makes sense to make a list of things that need fixing after the first two years is up, a final outstanding problems report for your builder
- Years 3-10 see the policy covering only major defects. For example with the NHBC, anything costing less than £1500 to fix isn’t covered at this stage
- From year 11 onwards your own home buildings insurance takes over, covering damage from a variety of sources but never everyday wear and tear
- If your NHBC or similar policy doesn’t cover every design and construction problem, you might have to take legal action against the builder
Property surveys help – Get a professional new home snagging survey
Snagging property surveys list problems with new build homes. They might be small cosmetic issues or tricky structural ones, but the snagging survey acts as a visual check on the quality of workmanship against formal standards. To do the job you’ll need an experienced snagging inspector, an expert who will look at every visible aspect of the property inside and out as well as any outbuildings and your driveway.
It’s sensible to have a snagging survey done before you exchange contracts with the developer if they allow it, but many don’t. If that’s you, get a snagging survey done as soon as you move in or at the very least within the first two years you live there. The moment it’s completed, send the report to your builder.
You could, of course, create a snagging property survey list yourself but without the necessary expertise and experience, you’ll probably miss things. Unless you’re familiar with every aspect of the nation’s ever-changing building regulations, it’s best to leave it to a professional.
If you need to make a complaint, it’s good to have a professional snagging report to refer to rather than an amateur one of your own. Remember it’s important to use an independent snagging inspector, not one who works for the building company who built your home. A good independent inspector will combine the knowledge of a chartered surveyor, senior site manager, building surveyor, architect and developer to create a full and detailed new home snagging list report.
Can we help you?
If you have any survey-led questions about surveys on new home builds, we’ll be pleased to help you.