Buying a new build: 10 things owners wish they’d known

Are you buying a new build home for the first time? Or maybe you’ve bought before but need some advice? We discover 10 things owners of new build properties wish they’d known before they’d bought.

This guide to buying a new build home is based on feedback from over 7,000 owners who have reviewed their properties on HomeViews. One of the questions we ask is, “What do you wish you’d known before moving in?”

We’ve compiled the answers below into our first-ever New Build Buyer’s Guide, along with expert tips from the HomeOwners Alliance, the Top 10 developers for first time buyers, plus the Top 5 housing associations for Shared Owners. Download your free copy here.

The process of buying a new build home can be confusing. You may not even be sure of the right questions to ask. These tips let you enjoy the benefit of hindsight without making the mistakes yourself!

Buying a new build? These are the things owners wish they’d known before moving in

1. “I wish I’d done more research on the developer and the property manager

If you’re buying from new, the developer will help with immediate problems, but longer-term, it’s the property managers who will address any issues you raise. The quality of your property manager can have a major impact on your quality of life in your home.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“The property management company is not very reactive and the green areas should be better maintained.” 

“Enquire more information on the property management company and what to expect from their services. As we did during the buying process.”

“I wish I’d known it was common for there to be numerous and serious problems with new builds and that it was so hard to get the property management/developers to sort them.”

2. “I wish I’d known more about the parking arrangements

Parking is regularly mentioned as a problem by owners, particularly for those with more than one car or who have regular visitors. Excessive street parking can make life difficult in smaller roads where neighbours do not have enough off-street parking space.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“…try and find the properties with the right amount of parking spaces for your vehicles! You won’t be able to park anywhere else as all spaces are already filled!”

“It’s all good and well choosing the house with the nicest garden and two allocated spaces, but if it’s on a narrow street with the houses across the road only having one space and no garage, then it will completely detract from your property.”

“Not all homes have 2 parking spaces when each home usually has at least 2 cars, some of them with more and there is no room for visitors and guests to park.”

3. “I wish I’d known more about the quality of the garden

Many buyers mentioned problems with drainage and gardens. They said they wish they had known more about what to expect in terms of topsoil provision and the potential for flooding.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“We found the soil quality, levels, and turf quality not very good. Our particular garden is almost impossible to dig, water collects and does not drain. So quality of top soil and ground underneath is poor.”

“Add £8000 to the marked price as you will need to spend this to fix the garden.”

“…check your garden thoroughly as we have found this to be the poorest aspect of our property. However, the fact that we received any grass and paving at all is still a step ahead of other developers.”

4. “I wish I’d known more about snagging surveys”

Snagging surveys were a common topic that owners wish they’d known about before moving in. Many residents who didn’t have one regretted it afterwards. Snagging was the most-mentioned topic for property buyers outside London who answered this question.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“We paid a professional snagger and it was the best money we spent as they look at things we never knew could be an issue.”

“I wish I had hired a professional snagging company. I didn’t know there was such a thing.”

“We didn’t use a snagging company but neighbours did and identified things such as soil quality and insulation issues which we didn’t think of ourselves.”

5. “I wish I’d viewed the property at different times of the day

Visit more than once before choosing your home. Visit at times of day to check noise levels, daylight/ night-time lighting, roads, potential flooding, mobile signal strength, etc. Walk to local shops, bus stop, train station and other amenities, and check security on and around the development.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“View the property / site at different times of day to get a sense of traffic congestion, noise, night life, etc.”

“Trains nearby are freight trains and not commuter trains so noisy at times.”

“As our street is very dark it would of been nice to know that there wasn’t going to be street lighting.”

6. “I wish I’d checked the terms and conditions more carefully

Check your T&Cs carefully, especially any regarding service charges, maintenance fees and management fees. Service charges – and particularly future rate increases – were something many owners said they wish they had known more about before buying.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“Do not accept vague responses when asking about service charge / estimated bills / additional monthly/annual costs. They really add up and need to be factored into your calculations if living in this property will be affordable.”

“Service charges increase astronomically with no accountability or restraint. Buying a lease is like writing a blank cheque, to which they have no hesitation in adding more zeroes.”

“We wish we had known more about the annual estate maintenance charges and what these covered.”

7. “I wish I’d communicated more proactively with the developer

Check options for extra features or customising the property and chase up any issues quickly. If something is important to you, make sure you have it in writing!

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“Always report any issues, don’t think it’s too small. If it’s bothering you then it needs sorting and that’s their job.”

“Pick up every single snag with both the house and garden. You wouldn’t put up with imperfections on a car so don’t put up with it on a house either – and push and push until everything is rectified.”

“I wish I had known we had more choices and upgrades to personalise our new home.”

8. “I wish I’d known more about development plans in the area

Many owners said they wish they’d more carefully checked development plans in the area – especially regarding green spaces, social housing and busy roads. Find out how much work will continue on and around your development once you’ve moved in.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“I would have liked to have known the full intentions with the land around the estate as the estate seems to be forever growing which is a little concern for the state of the traffic.”

“Triple check what the plans are for the immediate green area around your property and ensure management inform you of any plans to change these before carrying out works.”

“Wish we had known how big the development would become, which is a total downside. As its grown so have problems/security issues and general level of the development unfortunately.”

9. “I wish I’d been more careful in choosing a specific home

Owners said they’d underestimated the importance of choosing a specific home within a development in terms of its location and orientation. They wish they’d more carefully considered what level it was on, which side of the building, nearby roads, bin stores, entranceways, etc.

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“[I wish I’d known…] that the road behind us would be a 50mph rather than the expected 30 [and] that the natural drainage around the property was so poor due to insufficient removal of Wealden clay.”

“Try and get the apartment facing courtyard therefore there will be less noise from the street.”

“Carefully consider the direction of the flat – south/east get glorious dawns but are cooler in the evenings; south facing flats will be hot all day, etc.”

10. “I wish I’d known about resident groups before moving in

Resident groups can be extremely helpful and may be on WhatsApp, Facebook, on a resident app, or in-person. You can use these to talk with other residents who’ve moved in before you and find out what to expect. Of course, HomeViews reviews also let you read what the neighbours are saying!

Verified owners on HomeViews:

“Get in touch with your neighbours and online community, so you can influence things together. Don’t wait too long before logging in a formal complaint about a persistent problem, it’s sometimes an unspoken rule in these organisations that unless formal it can wait.”

“Very much worth joining the WhatsApp or Facebook groups as there is a very supportive community there.”

“There is a great community being built here. We have a development Facebook group and WhatsApp group where we regularly communicate.”

HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, landlords and the Government to recognise high performers and help to improve standards in the built environment.

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