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Expert advice when buying a new build home

View profile for Emma Gilroy
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Buying a new build home comes with many advantages.

You can choose the décor, you are the first owner, major repairs and problems are less likely and maintenance is less costly. However, buying a new build property can also come with its own particular issues.

So to mark New Homes Week, Emma Gilroy the Head of JCP Solicitors’ Residential Conveyancing team, offers her expert advice on what to watch out for when you buy new.

Buying off plan v in construction

Buying off plan can feel exciting – but always be mindful that there may be variations in plot location, finish and size. With a new build property that is already built/in construction, you can see these things “on the ground” which you cannot do when buying off plan.

Think about whether you can really fit your variety of furniture in your new living room? Is your garden smaller than expected? Will your table fit through the front door?

When you buy off plan it’s important to look at the property’s specifications and realistically consider if this suits your needs and where possible, think ahead to the next few years.

Are you planning a family? If so are there enough rooms? Are you planning to retire? If so, will this feel too big?

Also try to envisage what facilities will be nearby, and what mix of properties will be on the site and get a final completion date for the whole development. If the development will be ongoing for some time after you move into your new home, remember, you will be effectively living amidst a building site with all the drawbacks that entails.

Buyer’s contract

It is vital that you take the time to read your buyer’s contract carefully.

In this, there may be a number of aspects to consider, which could see you paying additional fees and could limit any alterations to your property and its grounds.

These include:

Shared facility charges
You may have to contribute a service charge towards shared facilities, such as community gardens. The developer should disclose this, and it should be mentioned in your legal documents. You need to ensure you are aware of the likely additional charges, as you will need to factor these into your ongoing costs.

Leasehold or freehold?  
If your new home is leasehold, you will probably have to pay ground rent and a service charge. A leasehold status would also mean you need the landlord or management company’s consent before you can alter or sublet your home. Again, you need to ensure you have fully budgeted for these additional ongoing costs of ownership.

Drains, sewers and roads  
On a new build, the roads, drains and sewers serving the property will probably be constructed by the developer. After a certain period, the Highways Authority and Water Authority should adopt responsibility for the maintenance of new roads or sewers, unless the contract provides otherwise.

Your solicitor should ensure that the agreements are in place to make sure this happens and that funds are allocated to cover the cost of the works in case the Developer goes out of business.

If the right agreements aren’t in place, the buyer may have to pay towards maintenance until adoption takes place. If the contract has provided that these services are to remain private, you need to ensure you are fully aware of the potential cost implications and liabilities associated with this.

Choosing the right ownership

Are you buying your new build home with a partner or spouse?

This needs to be communicated to your solicitor so they can help you consider whether you should own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. The documentation that is sent to register you as the owner of the property at the Land Registry will need to reflect this.

Married couples or co-habitees might opt to be joint tenants, as this allows both to own the property in equal shares. In this instance, if one partner dies their share automatically passes to the other owners, irrespective of any Will provision. Alternatively, tenants in common allow you to own unequal shares (important for example, if you’ve both contributed unequal amounts to the purchase price) and can leave your share under your Will.

Choosing the right solicitor

Finding the right solicitor can often feel like a minefield when you are purchasing a new home.

Buying a home is a complex and potentially lengthy process, so you’ll need to find a solicitor with experience in dealing with new builds.

They will help you to meet your lender’s requirements and resolve any discrepancies, to keep your purchase on track. Your solicitor will check planning and building regulation arrangements and make sure, for example, there is proper provision for roads, drainage and street lighting.

Buying a new build home can be the perfect option for some buyers and an exciting one too! Our conveyancing team are experts in handling all the complexities of buying a new build, and they are on hand to support you as you make this important next move.

For more advice on buying a new build property contact JCP Solicitors’ Residential Conveyancing team on 03333 208644 or email