Faulty new build?: What to do if your home has issues

What do you do if your new build has problems?

What do you do if your new build has problems? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When investing in a brand new home, you’d expect the condition to be something close to perfection.

Sadly, this often isn’t the case, with 35 per cent of new home buyers reporting more than 10 problems to their builder.

The latest survey on satisfaction with new homes from the House Builders Federation (HBF) and NHBC – the new homes warranty scheme – makes for depressing reading.

In 2015, 27 per cent of new home buyers said their property had more problems than they had been expecting.

35 per cent reported more than 10 problems to their builder, while 20 per cent said they’d had more than 16 issues.

So, what can you do if there are problems with your new build?

Well, if your home is less than 10 years old – even if you’re not the first owner – it’s almost certainly covered by a warranty, usually the Buildmark policy provided by NHBC.

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Paula Higgins, chief executive of consumer group, HomeOwners Alliance, has put together a list of tips for unhappy home owners:

• During the first two years, the policy covers most defects. Contact your builder directly in the first instance. If your builder is no longer in business, contact NHBC.

• In years 3-10, the policy will only cover only major defects, such as structural or weatherproofing problems.

• From year 11 onwards you will have to rely on your own insurance policy.

Before the initial two-year period expires, give your home a thorough going-over and write a final report of any outstanding problems to your builder.

One option is to employ a surveyor to undertake a ‘snagging survey’ to list defects which need attention and send copies to you and your builder (£300 upwards).

If your builder does not respond satisfactorily, your next move should be to escalate your complaint to the NHBC – or other warranty-provider – as soon as possible. If you’re still not satisfied, you could:

• Make a claim about the warranty provider to the Financial Ombudsman Service

• Issue a claim in court

• Contact the Consumer Code for Homebuilders

If you are still unhappy, you could either take a legal route or you could consider some form of direct action.

Homebuyers have, for example: contacted the press; hung banners from their home, visible from the sales centre, with such slogans as: “Don’t buy a home here until you have spoken to me”; set up websites and Twitter accounts to advertise the problems to potential buyers.