Posted on 29th November 2013

The Ups and Downs of New Build




MArtin Williamson, Head of Residential Property
New houses can often be more appealing than an older property, as they can mean that refurbishment and maintenance costs in the early days are kept to a minimum. They can also present something of a blank canvas on which householders can make their mark. Buyers, however, should be aware that a new-build is not necessarily less problematic than an older property. Stumbling blocks such as poor workmanship, delays and unexpected costs can quickly take the shine off a new home.


The first time buyer market for new builds is showing real signs of green shoots. Schemes such as the first phase of Help to Buy are aimed specifically at this market and their introduction, and successful take-up, has had a positive knock-on effect on the construction industry and the wider economy as a result.


New builds tend to be more energy efficient, which is particularly useful in these days of escalating energy prices. All new properties must have an energy efficiency rating of at least C (rates are between A and G), with higher requirements for housing association and council homes. Many, however, do not score above C, so do not necessarily expect an A rating on a new-build house.

The majority of new-builds also come with a guarantee from the builder. If the property is registered with the National House Building Council (NHBC), it will come with a 10-year warranty and protection scheme.

Anyone contemplating buying a new-build property should also be prepared for the downsides. Buyers may not have considered comparing buying a new home with purchasing a new car, but it is important to be aware that both can depreciate alarmingly. Buyers of new builds can expect to pay a 25% premium compared to an older more established property.

One of the main reasons why many people decide to buy an older property is because they are concerned about a lack of space in newly built homes.

Typically, homebuyers will be able to afford less space for their money when buying new over old. It is certainly worthwhile to compare old and new properties for their respective space, value and rental value.

Buyers should also keep a close eye on the anticipated completion date when buying new. A mortgage offer is usually only valid for six months and the timetable to complete can be something of a movable feast. This means that if buyers arrange their finance early, they could lose a mortgage offer if the completion date is delayed for any reason.