21 questions to ask when buying a new build home

Buying a new home is one of the biggest investments you’re ever likely to make, and for some it’s an investment that happens far too quickly.

Before we truly understand what we’re getting for our money, our lovestruck eyes have rushed us through the buying process – breezing us over the small print before parting with chunky reservation fees.

So, to give you a little peace of mind that you’re making the right purchase, here are 21 questions to ask when buying a new build home.

1. When will the property be completed?

The builder should always assist the buyer in understanding when their new purchase will be ready.

Usually, you’ll be given a completion date with a two-month leeway, where the date will likely be revised the closer the build gets to reaching its completion.

2. Are there any discounts available?

It might be the case that you’ll receive a discount when purchasing off-plan, but this is at the builder’s discretion.

It’s worth asking.

3. Is the reservation fee included in the price of the property?

The reservation fee should be deductible from the overall property price. However, if you choose to opt out of the purchase after paying a reservation fee, it’s unlikely you will receive a full refund.

If there’s a possibility you might need to cancel the purchase, make sure you understand the reservation agreement policy.

4. Can we choose the kitchen and bathroom finishings?

The choice of fixture and fitting finishes varies from one builder to the next.

With some purchases, you might have a limited choice of finishes to choose from, but with other developments, you won’t get an option.

At Blackthorn Homes, we always provide our buyers with a choice of finish wherever possible.

5. How many houses have been sold?

This will give you an indication of the development’s take-up with potential buyers, as well as a rough timescale on how long you have to make a purchase decision.

Making a reservation during the early stages of the build process means you have a greater chance of securing your preferred unit.

6. Can I have copies of the property plans, drawings, specifications and paperwork?

Check all drawings and specifications the builder shows you and ask for copies of any paperwork you’re asked to sign.

It’s also worth checking the deed of conveyance to determine precisely what land you will own with the purchase.

7. When will the access roads be completed?

Depending on the size of the development, it’s not always possible to complete some elements until the last unit has been built. This might include roads, cycle paths, public spaces, and so on.

Our advice? Ask your builder for a whole development completion date.

8. Who are the energy suppliers for the property?

It’s down to the developer to negotiate your energy contract, and it might be the case that they haven’t spent much time shopping around for the best deals.

Comparison sites like Uswitch will give you a better idea of what you should be paying for your energy.

9. Is there a long stop completion date?

A long stop completion date is an extended period that follows on from an anticipated date of legal completion.

If the developer fails to complete and hand over the property within this period, the buyer has the right to terminate the contract.

10. Are there plans to extend the development?

Some developments are built in phases, which means you could be living in an area more congested than you first anticipated.

Ask the developer if there are any plans to extend the development and, if so, how this might affect your living standards.

11. Is there a management company?

If you’re part of a managed development, you should check the cost of your maintenance fees.

It’s also worth asking whether the fees are likely to increase in the future.

12. Who are the developers?

Do your homework by researching everything about the developer.

If they have other developments within a reasonable radius, go and take a look. If you spot any homeowners, ask them about their experience.

You might think this goes beyond the ordinary, but remember: this is the biggest purchase you’re ever likely to make. You want to get it right!

13. What is the council tax band?

It’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s still worth knowing how much you’ll be charged for council tax.

You can find out by either asking your developer or by checking the Council Tax Calculator.

14. Does my plot have any protected areas?

It might be the case that your land has tree preservation orders or similar protection laws in place. In such instances, you might be refused planning permission to extend the property in the future.

Get it checked!

15. How many parking spaces come with the property?

If your property doesn’t have a garage or a drive, you’ll want to ask the developer how many parking spaces are assigned to the property.

It’s also worth asking if there are any visitor parking bays.

16. Will the garden be landscaped?

It’s assumed all new builds come with a finished garden – but that’s not the case!

Check what you’re getting for your money by asking if your lawn will be fully turfed, with a patio and planting scheme.

At Blackthorn Homes, we install gardens with our developments, but we know this doesn’t come as standard with other developers.

17. How long is the defects liability period?

Your defects liability period (DLP) usually lasts for 24 months, but, again, check the contract.

During this period, the builder will repair any defects within the property, such as loss of heating, blockages to drainage systems, and windows/doors not opening correctly.

Note: All new builds go through a period of settlement as the building materials dry and start to settle with the foundations. During this period, you are far more likely to see hairline cracks appear in walls and ceilings.

18. How long is the new home warranty?

Your new home should have a 10-year warranty registered with the National House Building Council (NHBC) or Premier Guarantee.

Cover usually starts from the time you exchange contracts and includes protection for your deposit as well as insurance against any major defects such as foundations, external render, load-bearing parts of flooring, and so on.

19. What’s not covered by the warranty?

Wear and tear, weather damage, or problems resulting from not maintaining the property adequately.

20. What’s in the local area?

If you’re planning to stay in your new build for a while, it’s a good idea to research local amenities in your area.

To get you started, you might want to check schools, hospitals, doctors, leisure centres, supermarkets, and public spaces.

21. Can I get any help with the costs?

It might be the case that there’s a help-to-buy or shared ownership scheme available at the time of purchase.

Check which government scheme is right for you by visiting Own Your Home.

To conclude

Aside from asking the right questions before you invest in a property, it’s also important you receive a peace of mind experience throughout your whole buying journey. Here’s a testimonial from a recent client who purchased a property at our Hextable development:

“Having purchased houses by some of the bigger, familiar developers in the past, my wife and I were immediately impressed by David’s hands-on, passionate and personal investment in the design, construction and overall aesthetic of his builds. In fact, it was in no small part down to David’s personal contact, and abundant enthusiasm for the project, that we offered on one of the Blackthorn properties on the very same day we were shown round the site and designs – and up the scaffolding a number of times for the full experience!! Despite moving during lockdown#1, David made the whole process both smooth and bespoke, and was impressively responsive and proactive to queries and issues raised along the way. Now we have been in our beautiful home for two years, we can thoroughly recommend Blackthorn Homes, and David himself as a local, authentic developer, with the vision and humanity to make this crucial purchase a real success.” – Maria and James

If you have any other questions about new build homes, or want to book a viewing at a Blackthorn Homes development, get in touch

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