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What are your rights when your new home isn't up to scratch?

View profile for Mark Ridley
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Problems often arise with new build properties and it is standard practice to compile a list of snagging items that need dealing with when you move into your new home. But what happens when the problems are more serious?

It is expected that there will a number of small issues to be corrected when you move into a new home. But for some homebuyers, difficulties can be extensive or long-lasting.

Buyers’ rights

New build homes come with a number of warranties, to include a ten-year warranty in respect of structural issues as well as a shorter warranty given by the developer in respect of fixtures and fittings. This is often for around two years.

Residential property builds are usually covered by the Consumer Code for Home Builders, which sets out a code of conduct that builders should adhere to. When considering whether to buy a new build property, you should check that the builder is registered with a warranty scheme that follows the Code, such as the National House Building Council, Premier Guarantee or LABC Warranty.

Moving into a new build home

Before you complete your purchase, you can have a professional snagging survey carried out. Some builders may be hesitant to allow this before completion, in which case you should have it done as soon as you move in. The surveyor will look at the structure and the finish of the property, to include plastering, tiling, brickwork and whether doors and windows fit and close well.

If you have had the survey done before completion, your solicitor will pass a copy to the builder’s solicitor so that the problems can be dealt with before you move in.

Once you move in, you should also make a comprehensive list of any issues that still need to be dealt with. Take this to the builder straight away and ask them to address matters. It will be easier for them to send in workers while they are still on site dealing with other properties, rather than later on when they have left.

In addition, it is good practice for them to ensure their buyers are happy while the site is still under construction and properties are being sold.

If problems are not resolved

If your complaints are not dealt with by the builder and you have exhausted their complaints process, you can take your matter to an independent resolution service. There is a strict deadline for doing this of twelve months from receipt of the builder’s final response to your original complaint.

An adjudicator will consider written submissions from you and from the developer. You will need to provide evidence of a breach of the Consumer Code for Home Builders as well as evidence of the financial loss you have suffered.

The adjudicator has the power to make a legally binding decision and award you compensation. As well as receiving an award for poor practice, you may also receive a modest sum in compensation for inconvenience.

Where a builder does not rectify issues with a new home it can be stressful and upsetting. It is recommended that you seek legal advice in respect of your options. It is sometimes the case that a robust solicitor’s letter can help focus minds on resolving problems.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert property dispute solicitors, please contact our Farnham office on 01252 733770 or online.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.