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
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
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 www.inspectorhome.co.uk
or call 0845 051 1015. A free copy of the Energy Saving Trust's Homebuyers'
Checklist Booklet is available at www.saveenergy.co.uk/homebuyers.
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