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Reality check on dream homes

You've just moved into your new luxury dream home. You fell for the beautiful bathroom and kitchen in the show home and that was it, you had to have it. Later on you were won over by the builder's incentive, perhaps no stamp duty to pay or no mortgage for a year, and finally, the thought of chain-free move sealed the deal.

While you might initially be ecstatic about the advantages of buying a new home, once you move in your smile could soon fade when the cracks start to appear.

The Energy Saving Trust recently said that moving to a new home, either brand new or second-hand, can cost an extra £2,500 in unexpected repairs for things like damp, insufficient insulation and damaged plasterwork. If you are buying a second-hand home you would expect additional bills for redecorating etc. but with a new home you expect perfection.

According to Inspector Home, which conducts surveys on new homes, each new property on average has about 100 defects and the more bedrooms there are, the more faults there are. For example, a one-bedroom home would have on average 51 defects, rising to 131 with four bedrooms. Considering 179,000 new homes were built in 2003, that's an awful lot of defects.

Vanessa Ambler, spokesperson for Inspector Home, said that the worst new homes can have up to 400 defects, ranging from the major such as leaks, split water tanks, missing windows and doors, to the minor such as poor paintwork and plastering. About 84% of new homes have some sort of defect says Inspector Home.

Rather shockingly, Ms Ambler says that we have virtually no legal protection when buying a new home. New homes are exempt from the Sale of Good Acts 1994 and that's why Inspector Home is lobbying the government to turn this self-regulated industry into a regulated one and set an enquiry into the building of new homes, quality standards and consumer protection.

She said that people are often confused about home warranties from providers such as National House Building Council (NHBC) and Zurich. She pointed out these policies provide insurance cover for the builder, paid for by the consumer, and they are hardly consumer protection legislation. NHBC provides cover for the structure of the building for up to 10 years and for the finishings for two years. Ms Ambler noted that if you had to sue your builder, you would be unable to do so because the policy is not in your name.

To give buyers of new homes confidence in the product, the Council of Mortgage Lenders launched an initiative last April, supported by the Law Society and the House Builders' Federation. Under this scheme, lenders have agreed not to release funds for a new home until it has passed an inspection and a home warranty is in place. Ms Ambler said that this has successfully eliminated the more major problems, but has not done much towards eradicating smaller defects. Previously, new homes received a pre-handover inspection after the transaction had been completed and the builders had the money in their hands.

If you are keen on buying a brand new home, the best way of protecting yourself is to get a survey done. Stephen Nancarrow, managing director Inspector Home, said "Get your property checked by a professional before you complete. Builders are only interested in your money - once you have completed the deal and they have the money, it's much harder to get the work done." If you do instruct a surveyor remember that the builder has the right to refuse entry - draw your own conclusions.

You can find out more about Inspector Home's services on or call 0845 051 1015. A free copy of the Energy Saving Trust's Homebuyers' Checklist Booklet is available at


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Schedule of Articles

property investing
property refurbishment
buying overseas property
moving house
home letting
buy to let
home improvements

top 10 celebrity areas
6 up & comming areas
5 signs that an area is up & comming
city types yearn for the country in town
your place in the sun
equity release
planning permissions & extensions
estate agents
rent or buy
buy to let
mortgage overpayment
mortgage endowments
mortgage protection
stamp duty
self build your home
electrical surveys
the cost of moving in
the perfect neighbourhood
council tax
house price league
good neighbours
stamp duty land tax
top 20 towns 2003
cut the cost of moving
interest rates
buying in scotland
dream homes
first time buyers
the worth of uk homes
bad estate agents
keeping up appearances
home improvements


Please note that articles on this site & any other 'planning-approval' related web site does not constitute professional advice. All articles are intended to provide a general view of many subjects. We suggest you to consult a solicitor before making any important decisions.  The author is not an expert in any given field.

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