Q. I bought a new build property a few months ago but to my dismay I have had nothing but issues with it. It seems like one thing after the other and honestly I am really not happy. Can you give me some advice on how I go about resolving them effectively?
A. New homes hold the promise of stress free home-ownership. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case as many buyers realise only too late that while a property is likely to be the most expensive thing they ever buy it is one of the least-protected by consumer law. With most retail purchases you have the right to reject them and demand your money back if they fail to live up to your expectations. Property, however, is exempt from the Sale and Supply of Goods Act, which can mean that homebuyers are trapped with defective properties. If your home is less than 10 years old – even if you are not the first owner – it is almost certainly covered by a warranty. Home-builders would struggle to sell a property without a warranty, as mortgage-lenders usually insist on this. In 80% of cases this will be the Buildmark policyprovided by NHBC. During the first two years, the policy covers most defects, except for matters of wear and tear and minor defects such as plaster drying cracks. During this period you should contact your builder directly in the first instance. If your builder is no longer in business, however, you should contact NHBC. In years 3-10, the policy will only cover major defects, such as structural or weatherproofing problems. During this period the minor defects are excluded – anything which would cost less than £1500 to fix, in the case of the NHBC. From year 11 onwardsyou will have to rely on your own insurance policy, however please note that policies such as the NHBC’s, may not cover all design and construction problems – for these, your only option may be to sue under the builder’s contract. Before the initial two year period expires, it’s recommended you check your home thoroughly and write a final report of any outstanding problems to your builder; alternatively you could hire a surveyor to undertake a snagging survey to list defects which need attention and send copies to you and your builder. The advantage of using a professional is that he is likely to spot more defects than homeowners would typically report themselves.