When buying a new build home, it is important to ask as many questions as possible. Buying a new built home is a big decision, so you shouldn’t feel pressurised into rushing into a contract with a builder until you are completely satisfied that you have found the property that best suits you.

Asking as many questions as possible is important to avoid any surprises or extra costs that may arise when buying a new build property.

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Questions to ask when buying a house or flat

To help, we have compiled a list of important questions to ask when buying a new build house. You can also ask these questions when viewing a new build house. After all, there is no better time to learn about the house or flat, how the company building it operates, the neighbourhood and very important information about your rights as a buyer in the short, medium and long term.

Don’t be afraid to ask too many questions when buying a house. It’s your right as a buyer to know as much as possible about what you are buying. So what questions should you ask when viewing a house? Start with the following:

1. When do you expect the property to be completed?
The builder will normally give you a time frame within a 2-month window.

2. Are the houses traditionally built (brick and blockwork) or timber frame construction?
This will give you an insight into how long the build should take. Timber frame constructions are usually erected much more quickly.

3. What is the cost of the new build property and are there any discounts available?
The sales advisor will usually have a dealing margin within which they can negotiate.

4. Do you take part exchange on an existing property?
Most builders have a part exchange policy if you have a property already that you would like to sell.

5. Is the reservation fee included in the cost of the property?

A reservation fee gives you the right to buy the property for a period of time in which the builder or developer will not sell the property to another buyer.

6. Is the property leasehold or freehold?

Freehold properties are the ones in which you own the house as well as the land it stands on, whereas leasehold means that the land in which the building stands is owned by the freeholder, and you only have the ownership of the property for a set period.

7. What choices are available in terms of home decor, such as kitchens, bathrooms and flooring?

It’s important to understand if there are upgrades available for any of the rooms.

8. Can I have copies of the property plans, drawings, specifications and paperwork?
Check all drawings and specifications that the sales advisor shows you and ask for copies of any that you are asked to sign to say you agree to them. Check the conveyancing plan to see exactly what areas you will be buying. Also, ask the sales advisor for a copy of the Consumer Code for House Builders (read it thoroughly).

9. When will the access roads be completed and when will the final surfacing be carried out?

Access roads can take months if not years to be completed, so it is important to have an estimate, as any road work can be quite inconvenient.

10. What are your customer care procedures?

Good customer care will give you peace of mind in case you need any help from their company.

11. Who are the energy suppliers to the property (gas, water, electricity, broadband, etc)?

Some suppliers will have better coverage, services and prices than others.

12. What is the council tax band?

This, alongside the energy suppliers, will determine to a large extent the extra costs you will have to pay each month.

13. Are there any public open spaces in or near the development? Are there any rights of way, footpaths or bridleways?

Public open spaces can greatly improve the quality of life in a given area.

14. Is there a management company and what are their fees?

Management companies can conduct building maintenance and do any light handyman and/or cleaning work as needed and resolve any concerns from the occupiers of the building.

15. Who is the site manager and have they won any awards?

Awards such as the NHBC’s ‘Pride in the Job’ recognise the work of the site managers building homes to the highest quality.

16. Are there any tree protection zones with tree preservation orders?

If there are any protected areas in the proximity of your house, you might not be able to build any extensions.

17. Are there any land covenants on the new build development?

Land or property covenants are the rules on what can and cannot be done on the land, which will determine a variety of things, such as whether you can park caravans on the land, whether you can use clotheslines or the types or number of animals that you can have inside the property.

18. How many allocated parking spaces does the plot have?

Also, ask whether there will there be shared driveways.

19. Is the site on mains drainage? Is there a pumping station and who maintains it?

20. Is the surface water drainage connected to the mains?

21. If a detached garage is included with the plot, does it have power?

22. Can I arrange a snagging survey before completion to make a list of any property defects?

It’s important to be able to do snagging survey before you move, to identify any defects and have them fixed.

23. Is the area at risk of flooding?

24. What schools, doctors, dentists and hospitals are in the area?

25. What is the area’s criminal record?

Security is an important feature of a neighbourhood and might determine the price of some properties.

26. Are there any environmental issues in the area?

27. Is there Radon Gas on-site?

If yes, ask what precautions have been taken.

28. Who is the warranty provider and what do they cover?

Different warranty providers might cover general defects, structural defects, drainage issues, etc.

29. What guarantees do I receive?

30. Are there any organisations that offer support with the costs, such as help to buy schemes?

There are help to buy and shared ownership schemes aimed at first time buyers.

These questions to ask when buying a new build house should help you in your decision to purchase or not. If you do decide to buy the property, be aware that most builders will have a time frame for you to exchange contracts. With this in mind, they may suggest that you use their solicitor. Our advice would be to use your own solicitor to represent your interests.

Thinking about buying your first home? These are the 10 best first-time home buyer tips. 

Ian Lively, Managing Director at Lively Professional Services. Housing and Snagging Survey Expert with over 40 years of experience.

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