What questions should you ask when buying a new home?
Buying a new build is all about finding a home that's right for you, so, it's always a good idea to conduct some research before you buy. Think about the sort of home you’re looking for, the location you’d like to live in, and any key features that are important to you in a new-build home.
If you’ve decided to buy your new-build home directly from the developer, here are some questions you may wish to ask before you get ready to move in.
Who are the developers?
Whether you’re buying a brand-new house or a new-build flat, it’s really important to do some research into who the developers are. Developers may range from small, local builders constructing just a few houses, right up to major nationwide chains with experience of building thousands of homes a year.
Purchasing a high-quality home from a builder you trust will give you peace of mind, knowing you’ve bought the right home for your needs. Remember, you can always ask a developer for examples of their previous work – and there may be show homes or open houses you can tour to get a feel for the new-build style.
Barratt London is the only major national housebuilder to have been awarded the maximum 5 stars from the Home Builders Federation for 14 years in a row. This means you’ll be getting a high-quality, brand-new home that owners consistently love living in – and you’ll get a 10-year National House Building Council (NHBC) warranty too.
What’s included in my new-build home?
With any new-build property you’re considering, it’s important to ask the developers for a list of exactly what’s included when you purchase. Check if any appliances, flooring or fixtures and fittings are included – or ask if you need to purchase these separately.
If there’s a garden or any outdoor space, ask if it will be landscaped or styled. Check for a driveway or ask if there’s a parking space – which may be in a separate location if you’re considering buying a new-build flat.
If the new-build property is still being developed, ask if there’s a completion date – and if the building work is progressing on time. You can also ask a developer to provide copies of the property plans, drawings, specifications and any other relevant paperwork.
What’s included with the new home warranty?
If you’re buying a brand-new home, you should be given a new-build warranty. Ask the developer of any new home you’re considering for all the details of the warranty, including an exact list of what is and isn’t included. NHBC warranties are offered on 80% of new-build homes in the UK, so are well worth looking out for.
Every Barratt London home is sold with a 10-year NHBC Buildmark Warranty, which includes a two-year guarantee on fixtures and fittings.
Is this new-build property leasehold or freehold?
In the UK there are two different types of property ownership: leasehold and freehold. A leasehold property means you’ll have a lease from the freehold owner to use the property for a set period of time – usually between 90 and 999 years. However, you won’t own the land the property sits on. The vast majority of new-build flats in the UK will be available as leasehold only, though occasionally you may have the option to buy a share of the freehold.
A new-build house may be a freehold property, which means you will be the sole owner of the property and the land it sits on forever – or at least until you choose to sell it.
Read this article for a more detailed explanation of the differences between leasehold and freehold property ownership.
Are there any financial schemes available to help you buy?
Lots of schemes are available to help you make your move into a brand-new home. If you’re aged 18-39, you could look into opening a Lifetime ISA, which will help you save up for a mortgage deposit.
Barratt London offers multiple schemes to help you buy a brand-new house. With Deposit Boost, we could contribute an additional 5% to your deposit if you already have 10% of the property purchase price saved. This could help you unlock more favourable mortgage deals – reducing the monthly cost of your new home.
You could also buy a brand-new home with just a 5% deposit using Deposit Unlock, whether you’re a first-time buyer or an existing owner. This offer is available on brand-new homes priced up to £750,000, allowing you to access competitively priced deals with a low initial deposit.
Are there any restrictive covenants?
With some new homes, restrictive covenants may be in place to prevent you as an owner making major alterations to your home. These are often used by builders of large developments to maintain a sense of uniformity across multiple homes.
Often, these restrictive covenants will prevent major external changes, like large extensions or major visible changes. They may also be in place to prevent you operating a residential property as a business, for instance.
Check with your developer before you buy a new-build home to ask about any restrictive covenants in place.
Can I choose the fixtures and fittings?
One of the most exciting parts of moving to a brand-new home is choosing the fixtures and fittings. From light switches to flooring patterns, these are the bits that really make a new home feel yours.
You’ll often be able to customise these details during the buying process – especially if your new home is still being completed by the builders. Speak to the developers to discuss options for choosing your fixtures and fittings – and remember to ask if any offers or discounts are available.
Major appliances may have to be purchased after completion, but again, may be able to be fitted before you move in.
Is there a management company and what are the service charges?
With many new-build homes, a management company may be in place to look after shared facilities and fix any teething problems after you move in. Speak to the developer for details of the management company and how or if they’ll be involved with your new home.
You should also ask your developer about utility services to the new development. Finally, check when any road developments will be finished and when the council will formally adopt any new streets.
What is the Energy Efficiency rating of your new-build home?
Before you make an offer on a new-build home, ask the developer for its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. A higher rating will mean your new home is more energy-efficient, which should lead to lower energy bills when you move in.
All brand-new Barratt London homes are built with highly-efficient insulation and enhanced double-glazing as standard, which helps to keep the cold out and the heat in. In fact, a brand-new Barratt London home could be up to 65% cheaper to run than an updated Victorian equivalent*.
Final new-build tips
The questions in this article should give you a good idea of the sort of things you must consider when buying a new-build home. Ask about using a conveyancer of your choice, or if the developers already have a relationship established.
Check how many other new-build homes have been built recently by the developer and see how much they have sold for and who purchased them. You could also ask about any developments they have planned in the future.
Lastly, remember to make time to look around previously finished sites and do all your research before you rush into buying your new-build home. That way, you know you can buy and move in with complete confidence that you’ve made the right decision.
* Indicative figures, based on research from Briary Energy, August 2023.