Overview of the buying process

Below is an overview of the key stages in the buying process for new build homes, together with our tips and suggestions on how to get the best out of the process and avoid some common pitfalls along the way.

 

If you encounter any problems with the buying process, particularly in relation to getting defective workmanship put right, and would like advice or further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

VISITING SHOW HOMES AND SALES OFFICES

Keep records of properties you are interested in:

  • Take photos/copies of the plans and specifications for the property - these should be available in the sales office.
  • Make a written note of spoken statements and promises made by sales staff about what the property will be like, what it will include etc.

RESERVATION STAGE

Read and understand the small print carefully before signing:

  • Make sure the reservation agreement reflects what you have agreed in principle with sales staff - note down extras, financial incentives, etc.
  • Check if you can cancel and if so whether you get your reservation fee back.
  • Start looking for Building & Contents Insurance policies that include legal cover for disputes with the builder later on - you will usually have to take out the insurance policy before a dispute arises to be covered for legal expenses, so get one in place before legal completion if possible.

SALE CONTRACT STAGE

THIS STAGE IS CRITICAL

  • Should you use the builder's recommended conveyancing solicitor?  We would urge caution.  We consider that it would normally be advisable to instruct your own choice of conveyancer who does not have a commercial relationship with the builder and who would not be prevented from acting for you if a dispute arose e.g. over completion dates if your property is not going to be ready by the deadline, or over construction defects or legal issues after you move in.
  • Send your written notes of spoken promises made by sales staff to your conveyancer and tell them to get the builder to confirm these in writing, otherwise you may not be able to rely on those promises.
  • Do not exchange contracts unless you already have copies of the plans and specifications for your property - otherwise, how will you know if the builder has complied with the contractual obligation to build in accordance with them?
  • Ask your conveyancer to identify and explain the operation of any exclusion clauses.
  • If the property is not yet built, ask your conveyancer to try and add a clause into the contract giving you the right to inspect the property before completion, and to make a retention or delay completion if you find major problems when you inspect.

NOTICE TO COMPLETE

If you exchanged contracts before the property was built, completion usually takes place a few days after the builder gives you "notice to complete":

  • Try to arrange a site visit before the completion date.
  • If your property looks like it will not be ready in time or if you find major defects with it, tell your conveyancer and get their advice immediately - can you delay completion, negotiate a retention or agree with the builder to postpone completion and have remedial works done before you move in etc.?

LEGAL COMPLETION

You now own your new home!  As soon as possible after moving in:

  • Check that everything you thought you were buying (size, shape, parking spaces, fixtures and fittings, extras, boundary structures, kitchen design and layout etc.) is present and correct.
  • Take a comprehensive photographic record of your new home, inside and out.  This will help to avoid disputes with the builder later on over whether defects or damage are their responsibility or yours.
  • Get your home professionally snagged - see below.

SNAGGING AND DEFECTS RECTIFICATION

We recommend that, as soon as possible after you move in (or before if your builder will allow a pre-completion inspection), you instruct a reputable snagging surveyor to inspect your home and prepare a report identifying all snags and defects.

 

There will be a cost associated with this but there is real value in it:

  • The report will carry more weight than if you notify the builder of things yourself, and make it more likely to get remedial works done. 
  • The surveyor may identify things you would not realise amount to defects.
  • The suveyor should be able to identify what particular Building Regulation, NHBC Technical Standard or other requirement has been breached helping you determine what should be done about the defects - and enabling you to assess the adequacy of the builder's proposed remedial solution.
  • If the builder fails or refuses to do a reasonable scope of works in a reasonable time, a snagging report will make it easier and quicker for you to claim on your warranty or via the courts.
  • The cost of the snagging report can often be claimed back from your builder.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Your builder should deal with defects in a reasonable manner, within a reasonable time and to a reasonable standard.  If they do not, or if you have more serious defects and are concerned to ensure these are dealt with properly, your options may include:

  • Making a claim on your warranty.
  • Taking legal action against the builder.

We can advise you on warrranty claims and taking legal action against the builder: click here for more information.

 

If you have a non-defect-related dispute with your builder and would like to discuss your options further, please contact us directly.

Contact us

T: 01904 799400

M: 07711 893943

E: hello@wingrovelaw.co.uk

A: Wingrove House, Beech Avenue, Holgate, York, YO24 4JJ

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