Overview of the buying process

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

 

If you encounter any problems with the buying process or with getting defective workmanship put right and you would like advice on your options for resolving matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

VISITING SHOW HOMES AND SALES OFFICES

Keep records of properties you are interested in:

  • Ensure you get copies/photos of the plans and specifications for the property.  You should be shown these by the sales staff but usually the sales staff will be resistant to you taking copies away.  BEWARE.  If you do not have copies of what you are buying, you are very likely to find it more difficult to resolve disputes over layout, specification, construction defects etc. after completion of the purchase.
  • Make a written note of important oral statements and promises made by sales staff about what the property will be like, what it will include etc.  Be sure to give these to your conveyancing solicitor before you exchange contracts.  If you do not, you are very unlikely to be able to rely on the statements to seek redress after completion of the purchase if what you get differs significantly from what you were told to expect.

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.
  • Be sure to keep a copy of it so you have a record of what was agreed, what information was given etc.
  • Check if you can cancel and if so whether you get your reservation fee back.
  • Look for household insurance policies that include legal cover for disputes with a builder and make sure you take the policy out before completion of the purchase.  This could make the difference between whether or not you are able to seek redress later on if things turn out not to be as they should.

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 better 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 in time, or if a dispute arises later on in relation to construction defects and other issues.
  • Send your written notes of important oral representations made by sales staff to your conveyancing solicitor and ensure they get the builder to confirm these in writing, otherwise you may not be able to rely on those promises later on if things turn out to be different to what you were expecting.
  • Make sure you have copies of the plans and specifications for your property before you exchange contracts.  If not, you will find it difficult to seek redress later on if the builder fails to comply with the contractual obligations relating to construction, layout etc.
  • 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 allow you to retain some of the purchase price or delay completion if you find major problems when you inspect.

NOTICE TO COMPLETE

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

  • Try to arrange a site visit before the completion date. Take photographs and relate any problems you find to your conveyancer and the builder with a request that they be addressed before completion of the purchase.
  • If your property looks like it will not be ready in time or if you find major defects with it, seek advice from your conveyancer immediately on whether you can delay completion, negotiate a retention etc.

LEGAL COMPLETION

As soon as possible after moving in:

  • Check that everything you thought you were buying (size, layout, boundaries etc.) is as it should be.
  • Take a comprehensive photographic record of your new home, inside and out.  This may help to avoid disputes with the builder later on over whether defects are their responsibility or yours.
  • Consider getting a comprehensive defects survey carried out without delay if you find anything more than minor issues.

SNAGGING AND DEFECTS RECTIFICATION

If you find significant construction defects, obtaining a defects survey report on your new home should be a priority:

  • The report will stand as a reliable record of what is wrong.
  • Your surveyor may identify things you might miss.
  • Your suveyor should have a good understanding of Building Regulations, NHBC Standards and other construction requirements for your home and be able to help you understand what should be done to resolve defects and assess the adequacy of the builder's remedial works proposals.
  • If the builder fails or refuses to do a reasonable scope of works in a reasonable time, a defects survey report will make it easier to seek redress via your warranty provider or 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 specialise in advising buyers on seeking redress in relation to the full range of issues that you may encounter with your new build home.  If you are having problems and would like to discuss your options, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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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