As good as new?

With hous­ing devel­op­ments spring­ing up left, right and cen­tre, buy­ing a new-build home may well seem like a favourable op­tion. Be­fore mak­ing the big move, how­ever, there are some im­por­tant things to con­sider

Surrey Life - - Garden Masterclass - WORDS: El­lie Fells

In 2017, the gov­ern­ment pledged to build 300,000 new homes ev­ery year by the mid 2020s in a bid to ad­dress the na­tional hous­ing short­age, and to­day huge new devel­op­ments are a fa­mil­iar sight in most towns and cities. New homes in Sur­rey are par­tic­u­larly on the rise, as John Fer­rucci, part­ner of Sey­mours Land and New Homes, ex­plains. “2019 looks like it will be an­other busy year. Due to the fan­tas­tic lo­ca­tion, the de­mand for new build prop­er­ties is high with buyers com­ing from Lon­don and fur­ther afield.” With var­i­ous gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives in place to in­cen­tivise buy­ing new homes too, such as the Help to Buy Eq­uity Loan Scheme, more and more of us are opt­ing to buy a sparkling new prop­erty.

Be­fore start­ing your search, be aware that the process of buy­ing a brand new home is slightly dif­fer­ent to usual. It may well be the case that you have your eye on a devel­op­ment, but that the houses them­selves haven’t been built yet; this is known as buy­ing a house ‘off-plan’. In this in­stance you’ll visit the show-home, but don’t be won over by any lav­ish dec­o­ra­tion, and try to see the house more in terms of its over­all style and the qual­ity of the fin­ish. “If there isn’t a fin­ished show home, ask if you can view a pre­vi­ous devel­op­ment by the same de­vel­oper so you can gauge their spec­i­fi­ca­tion,” ad­vises Mas­simo Lan­za­laco, di­rec­tor of Sey­mours Land and New Homes. Once you’ve de­cided on a plot or prop­erty, you might need to pay a reser­va­tion fee which can be around £1,000, and this won’t be re­fund­able.

Per­haps the main ben­e­fit of buy­ing a new-build is that ev­ery­thing is brand new. As a re­sult, the house should re­quire much less main­te­nance than an older prop­erty, and in the­ory it will be years be­fore you need to worry about things like new win­dows or roof re­place­ments. Most homes will also come with a 10-year war­ranty with NHBC, which will cover any struc­tural de­fects with the prop­erty, and many de­vel­op­ers will also pro­vide their own war­ranty too. If you’re

buy­ing off-plan, you are also likely to be able to have a say in the de­sign choices that are made such as the wall colour and floor­ing.

Build­ing re­stric­tions also mean that your home will fea­ture all the most modern fa­cil­i­ties. “A new three-bed­room home has at least 38 elec­tric sock­ets, mounted at knee height to pro­vide easy ac­cess, for ex­am­ple,” says Steve Wood, chief ex­ec­u­tive at NHBC. To­day’s reg­u­la­tions also mean that new houses have to be as en­ergy ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble, which of course means the po­ten­tial for lower bills, too. “Well-insulated homes built to cur­rent reg­u­la­tions will cost ap­prox­i­mately half as much to heat as Vic­to­rian homes that have un-insulated solid-brick walls,” Steve adds.

How­ever, a new home brings with it some in­evitable down­sides too. There’s no guar­an­tee that your home will be ready to move in to on the date you had ini­tially hoped, with de­lays in the build­ing process some­times un­avoid­able. Dur­ing this time, you are at risk of loos­ing your mort­gage of­fer, as these tend to ex­pire within a six month pe­riod. It’s also im­por­tant to be wary of the ‘new build premium’: in other words, make sure the prop­erty isn’t miles more ex­pen­sive than other, sim­i­lar prop­er­ties in the area just be­cause it is new. Take time to re­search the de­vel­oper thor­oughly too, mak­ing sure they are rep­utable. Some de­vel­op­ers will also try to sell you add-on items, so don’t be wooed by their of­fer of a wash­ing ma­chine thrown into the deal when you might be able to find a cheaper one else­where.

With the gov­ern­ment’s prom­ise to ad­dress the on­go­ing hous­ing short­age, it seems that we are set to see more and more new homes in Sur­rey in 2019. Per­haps, this could be the year that you make the big move, but be­fore do­ing so it’s im­por­tant to do your re­search and know the pluses and mi­nuses.

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