Caring for a new home

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Buying a new-build property can be great for peace of mind, especially when it comes to thinking about home maintenance or the risk of structural problems. With most new-build homes, especially from Places for People, you can be safe in the knowledge that your new home is energy efficient, ready to move into and covered by a new-build warranty, just in case.

While the new home maintenance that newly built properties require isn’t extensive, there are certain things that you should be aware of when moving into your property, especially if you have never lived in a new-build home before.

In this article, we look at tips when caring for a new home that has never been lived in before, explain new-build warranties, snagging, new-build garden care and what to expect as your property settles in the first year or so after completion. 

In this section:

•    What’s snagging?
•    What new-build maintenance is needed?
•    What does a new-build warranty cover?
•    Tips when caring for a new-build garden

What’s snagging?

Snagging is a term that refers to the process of spotting and reporting any issues in a brand-new home, so that the developer can resolve them.

As everything in a new-build home is brand-new, sometimes small issues might not be spotted until the buyer moves in and starts living there, despite everything passing inspections before the purchase was completed. Some common snags can include things such as:

·         Decorative issues, such as uneven or cracked paint or plastering

·       Inconsistent sealant around windows, doors, or in kitchens or bathrooms

·         Internal doors that rattle when closed or don’t close properly

·         Small leaks in the interior or exterior plumbing

·         Scratches or cracks on doors or windows

It’s the responsibility of the developer to resolve snags when they are reported promptly by homebuyers, so it’s important for those moving into a new-build home to note any issues like this and report them as soon as possible. There is a two-year limit on reporting snags to the developer, starting from the date of completion.

What new-build maintenance is needed?

One of the major benefits of buying a new-build over buying an older home, is that maintenance costs tend to be significantly lower. All of the elements of the home, from the roof to the plumbing and electrics, are new and shouldn’t need any major repairs for some time.

Many people who purchase a new-build home really like the idea that no one has lived in the property before them. However, because it hasn’t yet been lived in, sometimes there may be snags or other minor issues that the developer needs to resolve.

Shrinkage and settlement

When new homes are built, there is moisture in the walls and other materials used in the construction that gradually dries out for a period of time after the property has been completed. The property can also experience some very minor movement as it slowly settles into its foundations.

Often referred to as ‘settlement’ and ‘shrinkage’, these things can mean that small cracks can appear, most commonly around door frames, windows, staircases and can sometimes cause floor tiles upstairs to crack. For this reason, it’s common to use flooring upstairs that is more durable for the movement of a new-build home, such as vinyl, which can later be replaced by tiles if preferred.

There can also sometimes be other signs, such as doors that used to close properly no longer doing so after a few months of living there, or brickwork outside showing some small cracks.

Shrinkage or settlement issues will usually become evident within the first 12-18 months of living in a new-build home. This is one reason why it often makes sense for homebuyers to wait for this period to pass before redecorating their new property.

Preventing moisture problems in new construction homes

Homebuyers can help to reduce any issues like this by ensuring good ventilation in all rooms. This can include utilising the trickle vents installed in windows and regularly opening windows to promote good airflow, along with heating the home to a consistent temperature.

Where extractor fans are fitted in bathrooms or kitchens, these should also be used whenever the room is in use, to help remove excess moisture from the property.

Find out more about setting programmable thermostats.

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Regular maintenance tasks that apply to new homes

Some home maintenance tasks are beneficial to every home, no matter whether it’s a new-build or an older property. These include:

·         Ensuring gutters and downpipes are kept clear of leaves and other debris

·         Protecting outdoor wood, such as fences and sheds, with weatherproofing products

·         Get the boiler serviced annually

·         Bleed radiators at least once a year

·         Take steps to prevent frozen pipes in the winter

·         Visually check your roof from the ground (you might need to stand on the other side of the road or the bottom of the garden to see properly) to make sure there are no missing or slipped tiles, especially after windy weather.

What does a new-build warranty cover?

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All new-build homes come with a warranty, which gives the homebuyer real peace of mind that they are protected financially if defects become evident in the property during the warranty period.

In most cases, a new-build warranty comes in two parts. The first part covers snagging, and the developer is responsible for resolving any issues that arise in the first two years after completion.

The second part is a structural warranty that covers the property for the next eight years. It’s essentially an insurance policy which means that if major structural defects come to light in the new-build home, the homebuyer is covered for the costs of any work that needs to be done to fix the problem.

New-build warranties do not include cover for the building or its contents against damage or loss caused by bad weather, fire or theft, so home insurance (building and contents) is also required for the homebuyer.

Tips when caring for a new-build garden

Moving into a new-build home usually means you get a total blank canvas for a garden. Some new-build gardens come with lawn already laid, some have topsoil laid instead, there may be a patio area already created and they come in various shapes and sizes. This can be daunting for homebuyers, especially if they are first-time buyers or have never been responsible for a garden before.

Laying the majority of a new-build garden to lawn is usually a good idea as this helps with drainage, and this can be a good plan for the first couple of years while you decide on any longer-term changes that you might want to make.

Our tips for new-build gardens include:

·       Spend time in your garden area and take note of which areas get the sun and when during the day as this can help you decide where certain plants will thrive. Also work out the soil type in your garden as that will influence planting.

·         Take a look at other established gardens in the local area as this can help you to see the types of plants that grow well there.

·         Use online sites, such as magazines, Pinterest and Instagram, to look for ideas, styles, features and general garden ideas that you like, and think could fit well in your outdoor space.

·         Draw up a plan of what you would like and where, including seating areas, flowerbeds, trees or large plants, pots or raised beds and even where you might want to put the BBQ!

·         Consider raised beds, especially if you want to grow vegetables, fruit or herbs to use in the kitchen. This can add interest visually by adding a new level to your blank canvas garden.

·         Do you want to create a path down your garden? Making a curved path can help smaller gardens feel bigger and paths also work as a way to split the space into smaller areas that you can dedicate to things such as planting, seating or dining.

·         Standing on a plank when digging, planting or working on the lawn area can help prevent damage or compacting the ground, especially after heavy rain.

·         If using play equipment for children in your new-build garden, make sure that it’s installed safely. For example, setting up a trampoline on a surface that isn’t flat and level can be dangerous. Putting safety mats, rubber mulch or wood chips underneath a trampoline in your garden can help absorb the energy when its being used and help with drainage when it rains.

·         Protect wooden fencing and/or sheds the first summer after you have moved in with a suitable outdoor weatherproofing product. This will help to extend their life.

We hope that you’ve found this article useful if you’re considering buying a new-build property or have recently moved into your new home.

If you’d like to find out more about the homebuying process from Places for People, you can take a look at our guide to buying a new home.

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We hope that you’ve found this article useful in understanding more about what makes a house energy-efficient and the difference it can make to energy bills and other running costs, both now and in years to come. 

If you’d like to find out more about the homebuying process for an energy-efficient home from Places for People, you can take a look at our guide to buying a new home

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