Q. I am buying a high end brand new house from a small independent builder in Central London but am concerned as I have asked that we do a second snagging list once the house is 6 months old to deal with the various settlement cracks etc. but the developer has refused saying that any problems after completion will be covered by the NHBC guarantee. Having discussed this at length with my solicitor they have advised that the NHBC will only cover substantial problems that arise post completion. What do you think I should do? Quite clearly if I am paying 1.5 million for a property I would expect settlement cracks and any other unexpected issues to be addressed by the developer should they need attention.
A. Having dealt first hand with many developments off plan, it has always been the case that six months after completion the developer would send the builders back in to address any evident settlement cracks and any other issues that were quite clearly down to them. And yes it is correct that the NHBC guarantee would only cover the more substantial issues that need to be rectified that are sometimes not evident until the house has been functional for several months. Since you are dealing with a small developer I would indeed make sure that you agree something with the them prior to exchange of contracts. Seeking legal advice from your conveyancer would be the best action to resolve this matter. An agreement of what should be covered by the developer at the six month stage should be recorded into the contract, so the developer is clear of his commitment to you, the buyer and there can be no back tracking or arguments over what is expected of him. That way if he fails to attend to any issues that may need attention under the terms of the agreement; he would be in breach of contract. Of course the snagging list would need to be reasonable, remembering that many items in the house will be covered by their own individual warrantees, things like boilers, and electrical appliances. And of course general wear and tear would not be covered either.