To try and tackle the national property shortage, as we know the government is pledging to build 300,000 new-build homes a year by the mid-2020s. Choice experts Which? explore the advantages and disadvantages.
The government is incentivising buying new-build homes, too – you can buy a new home with a deposit of just 5% and a government loan of between 15% and 40%, depending on where in the UK you live, using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme (it’s unavailable in Northern Ireland).
One of the main benefits of buying a new-build property is that, initially at least, it’s less likely to require the same level of maintenance that you’d face with an older property. Your energy bills may well be cheaper, too, given that they are usually better insulated than period homes.
If you’re buying off-plan, you may also be able to choose certain aspects of the design.
What’s included in a new-build property?
One of the great advantages of buying a brand-new property is that, often, many of the fixtures and fittings you’d otherwise have to fork out for are included in the price.
Exactly what’s included varies depending on the developer and what they are offering. You may get stainless steel appliances, washing machines or dishwashers thrown in, as well as wooden flooring or carpet. Others may offer to install flooring or carpet but at an additional cost.
Today’s building rules and regulations mean that there are standards developers have to meet to make your property as energy-efficient as possible, helping you save on bills. Energy-efficient features could include double or even triple-glazed windows, insulated walls, roofs, and doors, and energy-efficient heating.
Pros and cons of buying a new-build
New-build properties offer the promise of a gleaming new home ready for you to put your mark on – but there are downsides to buying one, too.
Advantages of buying a new-build
- Guarantees: new-build homes come with a 10-year NHBC warranty covering structural defects. Most developers also provide their own two-year warranty.
- High-spec: new homes are built to the latest specifications, so major repairs should be unnecessary for the first few years. They tend to be more energy-efficient, too, so you could benefit from lower utility bills.
- Personalisation: if you buy off-plan, you might be able to choose your fixtures and finishes. This is great if you’re attracted by the ‘blank canvas’ element of buying new-build.
- Smooth process: there’s no upward chain to contend with when you buy a new-build home, which means you won’t be stuck waiting for someone to sell a property before you can move in.
- Incentives: some developers will try and persuade you to buy by offering to pay your legal fees or even your stamp duty – although many first-time buyers are exempt or qualify for a discount on this.
- Schemes: some schemes, such as the Help to Buy equity loan and Starter Homes Initiative, are exclusively available on new-build properties.
Disadvantages of buying a new-build
- Delays: properties aren’t always completed on time. If there’s a hold-up during construction, your mortgage offer could expire.
- Defects: 87% of new-build homeowners reported snagging issues with their properties, according to a survey by New Homes Review. Some developers have also come under fire for poor after-sales care and not fixing problems when they’re reported.
- Vague marketing materials: plans and brochures don’t always give a clear idea of what the home will actually look like when it’s built.
- Size: the rooms in new-build homes are often smaller than those in older properties, so you’ll need to make sure your belongings will fit. In fact, there’s a growing market for ‘micro-homes’ – properties with a total area of under 37sqm, about the size of an underground tube carriage.
- Disruption: if you’re one of the first to move in, you could find yourself living on a building site for months or even years while the rest of the work is completed.
- Teething issues: everything about your home will be new – not just the building, but the infrastructure too. You might have issues with getting the broadband, TV and even heating working, particularly if they will be shared with other properties and you’re one of the first in. Getting post delivered can be a nightmare as well.