So, You’re buying a new build property?

In a buyer beware world, it’s best to know the terminology  In this post, we are going to take you through some of the most common terms so that you turn the knowledge to your advantage.


A Building Warranty

This is an insurance backed warranty or guarantee that the property you are buying has been built to a set of standards that meet the approval of the warranty company 

Normally 10 years in length but can differ, ranging from 6 years onwards


Warranty Companies 

The NHBC is a name most people are familiar with and they warrant somewhere in the region of 93% of all new homes built in the UK.

The remaining 7% are fought over by an increasing number of companies with insurers backing them trying to profit from the opening up of the NHBC monopoly. Some such as insurance giant Zurich and CRL have fallen by the wayside as the differing companies battle for market share.

This battle has led to differences in the product they offer, as they seek to differentiate themselves in the market including the coverage and length of the warranty, the standards and bureaucracy in order to “operate under the flag” of the warranty provider, the amount of inspections that get done ( or don’t get done ) and the cost to the builder.

Not all warranties offer the same levels of protection (and your solicitor may not know this either) so make sure you know what you are getting! You, the home buyer, get no say in the process!


Warranty Inspectors

A warranty inspector should make a number of visits at key stages to the property during its construction and be picking up any deviations to the warranty standards (get hold of a copy and make sure you know what they are and what you might expect. You might not understand it all, but if you can just get to terms with some aspects then you will be able to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not – at least in terms of the finishes).

A warranty inspector will also be expected to pick up on building regulation issues also, but this is not his main priority. His main function is to ensure that there are no claims made under the warranty or to reduce claims made.


Who is Responsible For The Warranty?

Typically the builder is normally responsible for the first two years of any warranty, this is known as the defects liability period and the remaining 7 years are a structural only policy provided by the warranty company. Some warranty companies only have a year warranty. Some warranty companies have no defects liability period.

Some house sales through 3rd parties may seek to limit home buyer’s rights; assisted purchase schemes are examples of this. So the key feature of a warranty is the EXTRA protection it offers.

If the owners are covered by NHBC’s Buildmark, they should first look to the builder to put the matter right. If the builder does not do so, NHBC can investigate – this is called the resolution service; if it finds that the problems identified by the owners result from noncompliance with NHBC technical standards, it will encourage the builder to carry out repairs. If the builder does not do so, it will arrange to have the work done by others or cover the cost of others doing so.


Building Regulations Certificate 

Issued by an approved inspector confirms that the house meets the standards required by the building regulations 


What Are The Building Regulations?

 For many decades the UK government has sought to control the basic standards that the builder has to build to. The approved documents of the building regulations to give them their full title is a set of guidelines that advise builders on how to meet the standards required in law.

These regulations are enforced by what we commonly call building inspectors. Most operate under the jurisdiction of your local authority LABC  and therefore are not for-profit organizations working for the public good. There are however private companies engaging in the inspection of new homes, these are profit-driven organizations competing against the LABC in a de-monopolized free for all.


What Is The Function Of A Building Inspector?

The building inspectors’ function is to ensure the homeowner is protected and the house is built to the required minimum standards. In addition to building regulations, your new home has to comply with other statutory requirements and must pass/comply:

  • With planning permission given
  • With electrical certificate issued by NICEIC qualified contractor
  • With Gas Safe certificate of compliance, this is the regulatory body that trains the plumbers that install your heating and water systems
  • With SAP ratings – your home must comply with government standards for insulation 
  • Robust details, there are design parameters agreed previously and may go unchecked if agreed to in drawings submitted for approval by the regulatory body