New-build estates are popping up everywhere these days – there are two in my home town alone – and stats from the Department for Communities and Local Government suggest that the number of new-builds under construction in the UK has jumped by as much as 25% in 2014-15.
Buying a new-build is great for buyers who want a blank canvas that they can truly put their stamp on, and it does come with plenty of advantages (more on those below) but there are also some things you need to watch out for.
The Good Stuff
From an insurance standpoint, you’ll probably pay less for a new-build than for a creaky, old property. You should also get a 10-year NHBC (National House Building Council) guarantee on your side… although you’ll have to undergo a slightly more complicated claims process if structural flaws appear more than two years after purchase.
If you’re a cautious sort, you might think about bringing in a “snagging” company. Snagging inspections only cost a couple of hundred quid and, should they find any issues* with your new home, you’re well within your rights to ask the builders to sort them out.
* Yes, it would be lovely if there were no flaws at all, but that’s not usually the way it works.
No onward chain means sales are less likely to fall through, and research suggests that in 2015 around 36% of them do fall through, which is another big plus of buying new.
Common Problems With New-Build Homes
New-build estates come with an affordable housing quota, meaning that a handful of its properties are made available through a housing association.
Some people get uptight about this but there’s no reason to think that you’re going to end up with nightmare neighbours because of it. Still, it’s often true that renters don’t take such good care of properties as buyers.
On the less serious side of things, you can also expect to enjoy phone calls from delivery men whose sat navs have taken them to a town an hour away and a slew of ADDRESS NOT FOUND IN OUR DATABASE notifications from online stores. A little frustrating but not the end of the world.
Oh, and then there’s the dust. The noise may not be so bad through those brand new double glazed windows, but the thick sheen of dust from the building site that will inevitably cover them (and your car/bike/anything else you leave outside…) while the second or third phase of building goes on is not pretty.
Where Does That Leave You?
In my book, buying a house you can really see becoming a home is more important than whether or not it’s new. It’s only when the dust (literally) settles that you can really get a feel for what a new-build estate is going to be like, so there’s an element of risk there.
But, if your budget is tight (i.e. no money for big repairs) or you’ve had to wade through one too many dirty or rundown houses, the appeal of a fresh, clean new-build might just be too much to resist.