28 Nov 5 Questions to Ask When Looking At A New Home
Buying a new home is a thrill, especially if it’s brand new and you’re therefore going to be the first people to ever live in the house. Yet it can also be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know much about the building industry and aren’t too sure what you should be asking the company that you’re looking to buy a house from. There are all sorts of things that will be swimming around your head, so having an idea of what to ask can be a big help.
One of the most important things is to realise that you shouldn’t be overwhelmed. It’s totally normal to want to ask questions and doing so will let the property developers know that you aren’t to be taken lightly. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for building companies in this day and age to try to fob clients off rather than give them straight answers. That’s often why it’s helpful to have a snagging inspector with you when you go on your home tour and to look at the house before you get ready to sign on the dotted line.
The more questions that you ask, the more likely it is that the site manager, who is likely to be the person giving you the tour, will go into ‘construction mode’ and therefore be more thorough in their answers. Here’s a look at some of the questions that you should ask when looking around a new-build property.
1. How Do You Isolate Valves?
It’s not necessarily one about the construction of your property, but knowing how to isolate the likes of sinks, toilets and baths is an important thing to know. If you have some sort of leak then the last thing you’ll be wanting to do is to be getting out your instruction manual to see where the isolation valves are!
Some new-build companies have stopped putting isolation valves on certain things, so make sure the site manager tells you why they’ve chosen not to if that’s what you get told, as well as what you’ll then need to do to isolate certain things. Obviously it’s important in an emergency, but it might also be important if you want to put a new sink, toilet or bath into your property.
2. What Structural Problems Might Develop?
When you’ve bought a new-build house there are lots of things that will happen over the first year or so of owning the property. As the weather changes and you put on the radiators or have to deal with the heat of the summer, the house will begin to settle and cracks will appear in the plasterwork and the painting. That’s entirely normal and is part of the reason why you should wait a few months before beginning to decorate your home.
The general rule of thumb is that it’s not a snagging issue until the crack is wider than a £1 coin, so it’s not something you’ll need to speak to the site manager about unless it reaches that point. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t likely to be structural issues over the first few months, however. A good site manager should know what problems are likely to rear their heads and be able to give you a head’s up about what to look out for.
3. How Does The Heating System Work?
There are any number of questions that revolve around the heating system alone. Is there a special system used to bleed the radiators, for example? What do you need to do with the boiler when you do bleed the radiators? Most houses will have standard systems for the radiators and you’ll be required to re-pressurise the boiler twice after doing so, but asking questions will ensure that you know what you’re up to. If there are any special systems in place then they’ll be much easier to understand if they’re explained to you in person.
You’d also do well to bleed the radiators every six months to ensure that the system is working properly. Of course, knowing whether the the system is working properly will only be possible to discover if you’ve been told how the heating system actually works. New-build properties will always try to keep as modern as possible, but it’s not exactly unlikely for the master bedroom to be heated separately to the rest of the house, say. Again, getting the information as to how it works in person and seeing it in action will save you time in the long-run.
4. What Are The Conditions Of Any Warranties Or Guarantees?
New-build properties tend to come with warranties, often with a different guarantee for each of the main things in the house. What will make the guarantee invalid? Do you need to service the boiler once a year, as an example? What about the oven? Some property developers will declare your warranty to be invalid if you convert your loft without getting permission from them first, so knowing this as soon as you move in will almost certainly save you some pain in the long-run.
The chances are that new-build companies will put in carpets, flooring and cupboards that differ from what you’ll have used in the past. Are there are guarantees that come with them? If so, how long do they last and is there anything you need to do to ensure that they’re up-to-date and valid? Pre-arming yourself with this sort of information will put you in a strong position if you then have a problem with your boiler, radiator or flooring at a later date and need to use the warranty or guarantee to get it sorted.
5. Anything Else You Need To Know?
There are so many areas of a new-build property that will have questions attached to them. Oftentimes developers ask you not to walk on the grass in the garden for a couple of weeks, as an example, as it settles into place. Make sure you know how long that is the case for and whose responsibility it is to look after the garden once you’ve moved in (usually yours). If there are heavy patio doors on the property then it’s usually wise to open them regularly in order to ensure that they don’t catch.
This is obviously something of a ‘cover-all’ question, but it gives the site manager or other property developer representative a chance to let you know anything important before you end your inspection. If you save this question until last then you’re more likely to have put them into ‘constructor mode’ and therefore get a useful answer. There are a number of things that remain the responsibility of the constructors for the first few months and others that don’t, so find out what’s what and ensure you’re forewarned and forearmed.