New Build Property Disputes

Many home buyers, particularly those who are taking their first step on the property ladder, think buying a new build home is the safer bet that buying an older home. However, despite many new build homes having multi-year guarantees, problems with these homes are, unfortunately, very common.


What are your rights?

  • When buying a new build property there are a number of rights that you, as a buyer, can expect to receive. The primary list of rights that you have are:
  • The right to a written contract - This contract should set out all of the terms of the sale, including the price, the completion date, and the builder's warranties.
  • The right to a snagging survey - This is an independent inspection of your property to identify any defects. The builder is then legally obliged to fix any defects that are found within a reasonable timeframe.
  • The right to a 10-year warranty - This warranty covers structural defects in your property.
  • The right to cancel your contract if the builder is significantly late in completing the construction of your property.

New Build Property Warranties

There is a 10-year warranty that is associated with every new build home purchase. It is this warranty that makes new builds an attractive purchase for many buyers. However, these warranties are split into 2 separate periods; the developer’s warranty and the NHBC warranty.

Developer's Warranty

The developer’s warranty on new build homes is in effect for the first 2 years of the property’s occupation. Within these first 2 years things such as structural issues and minor defects that are found during the first 2 years of living in the home are covered.

Following the first 2 years, the developer’s warranty expires and is replaced by an insurance backed warranty.

NHBC Warranty

The National House Building Council (NHBC) warranty is in effect from years 3-10 of the home’s occupation. This warranty only covers structural issues with property. This means that any cosmetic issues or minor defects that arise are not covered under the home’s warranty.


Common Issues with New Builds

As many are all too aware, new build homes can often come with defects as well as a range of other issues. While all issues are an inconvenience for buyers, some are more detrimental or common than others.

Structural Defects

Structural defects on new build homes are covered throughout the full 10 year warranty. These types of issues refer to problems that affect the load-bearing structure of the home. This includes the foundations, walls, floors, and roof. Structural defects can be caused by any number of reasons such as poor design, poor workmanship, or defective materials.

Quality of Workmanship

Quality of workmanship issues encapsulate a wide range of potential issues with new build homes from minor cosmetic defects to more serious issues that can affect the functionality or safety of the property.

Some common quality of workmanship issues in new build homes include:

  • Poorly fitted doors and windows
  • Uneven walls and floors
  • Cracked tiles and grout
  • Poorly installed fixtures and fittings
  • Leaky roofs and gutters
  • Defective electrical wiring and plumbing
  • Unfinished or incomplete work

These issues can be caused by a number of different reasons such as a rushed construction process, inexperienced or unskilled labour, use of substandard materials, or failing to follow the proper building regulations. It is important to identify any issues or defects with a property before moving into a new build home.

What is a Snagging Survey?

There are a few different ways to identify issues with a new build property before you move in but the best and most common way is through snagging surveys.

A snagging survey is an independent inspection of your property to identify any defects. The builder is then legally obliged to fix any defects that are found as a result of the survey within a reasonable timeframe.

The best time to complete a snagging survey is if before you have exchanged contracts with the developer, however many developers do not allow snagging surveys to be done before completion. If this is case then you should complete the survey as early as possible after you have moved into the property.


Resolving Disputes with Developers

The most preferable way to get issues with a new build property resolved is directly with the developer as this can avoid any outside costs and will likely be quickest method of resolving defects. However, if you are unable to resolve the issues with the property directly with the builder there are other actions that can be taken.

Negotiation & Mediation

Negotiation and/or mediation is an excellent first port of call when resolving new build property disputes. This is because they can help resolve the dispute amicably before escalating the dispute to the court system.

Through negotiation and mediation, the homeowner and the developer may be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement where both parties are happy with the outcome, minimising the overall impact on the relationship. This could mean that if further issues arise in the future, both parties will likely be in better standing with each other than if the issue was resolved in court.

Legal Actions

In cases where the dispute cannot be resolved amicably or through mediation, you may choose to take legal action against the developer. There are a number of legal actions that you can take in the event of a new build dispute but the best course of action will depend on the nature of your dispute, so it is recommended to seek the advice of a solicitor before moving forward.

Some examples of legal action you could take against the developer of your new build home include:

  • Making a complaint to the Consumer Code for Home Builders (CCHB).
  • Taking your builder to the small claims court.
  • Starting a civil court action.

How Lovedays Solicitors Can Help

With dispute resolution or court proceedings the longer the issue is left the worse it can get. If you have an issue please do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial enquiry.

Our team can help guide you through the best course of action for your case as well as undertake mediation between the parties involved in the dispute. In addition to this, our property lawyers can also negotiate on your behalf or represent your interests in court.


Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I find defects in my new build property?

If you find defects in your new build property, you should report them to the developer immediately. The developer is legally obliged to fix any defects within a reasonable timeframe.

What are my rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you the right to expect goods and services to be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. If your new build property does not meet these criteria, you may be able to claim a refund, repair, or replacement.

What are my rights under the Consumer Code for Home Builders?

The Consumer Code for Home Builders (CCHB) is a voluntary code that sets out standards of service and protection for new home buyers. The CCHB requires developers to provide a 10-year warranty on the structure of new build properties and a two-year warranty on fixtures and fittings.

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Our team can help guide you through the best course of action for your case as well as undertake mediation between the parties involved in the dispute. In addition to this, our property lawyers can also negotiate on your behalf or represent your interests in court.

Free Guide

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About Lovedays

Lovedays Solicitors, Potter and Co Solicitors and Andrew Macbeth Cash and Co Solicitors are the trading names of Derbyshire Legal Services Limited which is a company registered in England and Wales under company number 08838592. Registered office Sherwood House, 1 Snitterton Road, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3LZ.

Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA ID number 637916.

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