Which? Convo regular John Ward is here to share his experiences of buying a new-build house. It’s furnished him with some great tips if you’re looking to buy a new-build, so without further ado, here’s John.
Two years ago Jean and I moved into our new-build house. It’s in a small development on the edge of a market town in Norfolk adjacent to open country. It was built by a regional house-building company that has a good reputation for quality.
We moved so we could get a more up-to-date house and a smaller garden. The development is a mix of typical rural designs and town houses and we chose a country-style house which was the only one of its type. The layout and landscaping are good with open spaces, woodland, and trees fringing the development – although, as with so many ‘greenfield’ sites, there were no established trees or shrubs in the gardens.
We’re very pleased with our purchase and enjoy it very much. The build quality has been high and we think the NHBC 10-year warranty system, together with better building regulations, new technological developments, and modern construction techniques, have improved the quality of new houses. Nevertheless, there were some snagging issues to be dealt with and my ‘rectifications list’ had thirty-six items on it at one point, mostly minor.
A few serious things ought to have been spotted during any quality control inspection, but the company dealt with all faults satisfactorily and quickly. It’s only when you start to live in and use the facilities in a house that you become aware of problems, but we think that more could be done generally in the building trade to check and test the work of the various sub-contractors.
Top tips for buying a new build
Having visited many new housing schemes, at various stages of construction, I can suggest a few points to think about when buying a new house:
- See if you can find out the true timescale for completing the development; the sixty-four houses on our estate have taken nearly three years to build which has prolonged the disturbance.
- Check the different types of property on the development plan; most developers seem to be very coy about showing later phases and the categories of houses (including any social housing) yet to start.
- Don’t get too carried away by the furnishing and decor in the Show Home – it’ll be all bright lights, reflective surfaces, and mirrors to make rooms look bigger.
- Remember there will be no fixtures and fittings like bathroom cabinets, light fittings, wall mirrors, clothes pegs, and the other conveniences of life that you are used to in your present home.
The experience has prompted a few questions: why are there so few modern-style houses and why do they cost so much more? What do we like or dislike about en suite bathrooms? Are rooms in the roof space (and that extra staircase) a good idea?