Pocket guide to site visits

Things to consider before you go

 

Builders may use undersized furniture and other techniques to create the impression their show homes are bigger than they are. Don’t be misled.


List your main furnishings and measure them. Note the width of your car if looking at homes with garages. Take the measurements and a tape measure with you and check if your stuff will actually fit in.

 

When you are there – questions to ask, stuff to get

 

What your new home will be like?

 

  • Ask at the sales office to see the WRITTEN SPECIFICATION for the home you are interested in, and then TAKE A COPY (e.g. photograph it with your smart phone) as you may find it very difficult to get hold of a copy after you have exchanged contracts (which you might want to if, for example, what you end up with is significantly different from what you thought you were buying).
  • If possible, get WRITTEN room measurements, copies of plans and layouts.
  • What is the width of the garage opening? Will your car fit in?
  • What is the number and position of electrical sockets in each room?
  • Will the garden be turfed or landscaped before moving in?
  • What boundary fences and structures will be built?
  • Can you customise the layout or specification of your new home? How are the costs of amendments dealt with? Will this affect the build time?

 

Timescales?

 

  • When will the home you are interested in be completed?
  • What is the possibility of delay and for how long is it possible that completion will be delayed?
  • When will the whole development be completed?
  • Is the estate layout fixed or could it change? If so, how and when?
  • When will the estate roads be finished and adopted?
  • How many plots are remaining to be sold?

 

Marketing Material

 

  • Collect and keep copies of brochures and marketing material for your new home and the development –these may be useful if things turn out differently to what you expect.
  • Take photos of on-site information like site layout plans and keep for your records.
  • If a salesperson makes specific assurances to you about anything significant (measurements, layouts, materials, etc.), keep a WRITTEN NOTE of those assurances and GIVE THESE TO YOUR CONVEYANCING SOLICITOR BEFORE EXCHANGING CONTRACTS - many builders exclude liability for pre-contractual representations unless your conveyancer has confirmed in writing before exchange of contracts which ones you are relying upon.

 

Ground Rents, Service Charges, Maintenance Costs (leasehold only)

 

  • How much is the ground rent?
  • How much (approx.) will the service charge be?
  • When are each payable?
  • Are they payable monthly or annually?
  • Who is/will be the Managing Agent for the management company? (Do some research on them before you commit – they are not always reputable!)
  • Will the freehold be sold on after you finish selling the flats? If so, to whom?

 

Reservation Forms and Fees

 

  • Is the amount of the Reservation Fee negotiable? (Or just try negotiating it!)
  • Ask to see a copy of the written Reservation Agreement and read it before signing – take away if necessary.
  • When and how much of the reservation fee is refundable?
  • Does the reservation fee count towards the purchase price if you buy?
  • Ask for a written list of contents and a detailed specification for the property
  • Check out our detailed guide on reservation forms and contracts here

 

Warranty Provider

 

  • Who is the new home warranty provider?
  • Ask for written details on what the provider covers, and for what periods

 

After Sales Service

 

  • Does the builder have a written customer charter for after sales care? Ask for a copy
  • What are the builder’s procedures for reporting and fixing problems?
  • Will there be an on-site customer care presence after you move in? If so, for how long?

 

After the Site Visit

 

  • Take time to review and reflect on the information you have been given. Are you missing any key information? Make sure you follow up on anything outstanding. Assume nothing. Take nothing for granted. Do your research.
  • Investigate information or issues you are concerned about, especially in relation to after sales care (a common cause of homeowner dissatisfaction) and construction quality. Be sure you know what to expect if you proceed to buy a new home.
  • Get organised and keep records and copies of everything you can – marketing material, forms, documents, emails, names and numbers, etc. This will ensure that, if you do buy a new home and anything goes wrong, you are in the best possible position to resolve things in your favour.

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