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New Build Conveyancing Solicitors

Nicola Ryan

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

30th Jan 2023 (Last updated on 15th May 2023) 6 minute read

When purchasing a new build property, you need to hire a conveyancer to assist you with the legal process. Bear in mind that not every solicitor or conveyancer offers services for new build homes. Therefore, make sure that you inform any solicitors or conveyancers that the property is a new build.

Your solicitor will have to carry out extra steps to ensure that the property will be habitable upon completion. There are a lot of strict deadlines your solicitor will have to adhere to due to the short reservation period.

In this guide, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about purchasing a new build property and the conveyancing process.

  1. What Do They Do?
  2. Conveyancing Process for New Builds
  3. How Much Do New Build Solicitors Cost?
  4. Should You Use the Developer's Solicitor?
  5. Buying New Builds in Scotland
  6. What Should I Ask When Buying a New Build?
  7. Finding a Conveyancer

What Do They Do?

The legal process for new builds is different as it has a quick 28-day turnaround. This means your conveyancer will have to be fast and submit all documentation to tight deadlines. Solicitors that deal with new builds tend to have a specialist team to accommodate this.

Here are some of the duties your conveyancer will have to carry out:

  • Check that there is access to drainage, electricity, gas, and water
  • Making sure that all planning permissions have been approved
  • Read through your mortgage offer and liaise with the relevant parties
  • Look into any restrictive covenants
  • They will ensure that you are signed up with the National House Building Council (NHBC) and carry out relevant inspections

Read more about the Conveyancing Process for Buying a House

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Conveyancing Process for New Builds

The new build conveyancing process is different from existing properties as they are still in development. Your conveyancer will have to conduct additional conveyancing searches. They will also need to arrange an NHBC inspection and deal with the planning permissions.

The conveyancing process may differ depending on how far along the property development is. Here is the conveyancing process timeline:

1. Reserve the property

You have to pay a reservation fee before making an offer. This is often non-refundable but deducted from the final price. The property will then usually be reserved for 28 days.

2. Find an experienced conveyancer

Make sure you check whether your conveyancer offers new build services before proceeding. A specialist new build solicitor will be able to submit the appropriate document quickly due to the tight deadlines.

3. Arrange conveyancing searches

Your solicitor will arrange the relevant conveyancing searches. These searches highlight any potential issues that could negatively impact the property value. They will also review planning permission, building regulations, and new home warranty schemes.

4. Secure your mortgage

Your mortgage lender will request a surveyor to conduct a mortgage valuation to determine the property’s market value. If the house is unfinished, then the valuation will be based on the plans and specifications provided.

5. Exchange contracts and pay the deposit

The exchange of contracts will make the transaction legally binding. At this point, the buyer will pay the deposit and sign the necessary documents. Most new build contracts state that completion will take place 10 days after the developer confirms the property is ready. This is known as ‘completion on notice’.

6. Find a snagging surveyor

A snagging list is like a property survey for new builds. It's more thorough than a mortgage valuation, as it identifies issues with the ‘finish’ of the property and items of repair. You should hire a reliable snagging surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection.

7. Complete

Completion dates are usually arranged 10 days after the exchange of contracts. However, a concrete completion date might not always be given. On the confirmed completion date, you will receive the keys, building logs, and owner’s manuals. You can then move into the property.

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How Much Do New Build Solicitors Cost?

The average solicitor fees when buying a house for new builds is £2,299. This cost includes the solicitor’s legal fees, disbursements, and a new build fee of £360. The overall cost is based on the UK house average of £277,000.

If you are using schemes such as Help to Buy or Shared Ownership, this cost will increase. Here are some extra fees you will need to consider:

Help to Buy ISA Fee£120
Help to Buy Equity Loan Supplement Fee£340
Shared Ownership£330

You can find an estimated conveyancing cost using our Conveyancing Fees Calculator. This includes any new build-related fees.

Read more about How Much Can You Negotiate Off a New Build House?

Should You Use the Developer's Solicitor?

Your developer may recommend their solicitor act on your behalf. Despite the legal process having a short turnaround with new builds, there is a lot that needs to be done.

Using the Developer’s Solicitor

This can help save you time finding your own conveyancer. Using the developer’s solicitor can be helpful for those undergoing a last-minute move. In some instances, your developer may offer you incentives if you use their recommended solicitor. However, this is not always guaranteed.

The solicitor will have knowledge of the property construction because they have worked with the developer.

Using Your Own Solicitor

There is a chance that something may be missed due to the restricted number of people who have inspected the property. Using your own solicitor will ensure that you receive a new and unbiased opinion of the property.

Another advantage that comes with using your own solicitor is that they won’t feel any pressure from the developer.

In some cases, your developer may receive a referral fee or commission if you use their recommended solicitor.

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Buying New Builds in Scotland

The main difference between buying a new build in Scotland and the rest of the UK is that your conveyancer will submit missives to the developer. Missives are an exchange of letters of negotiation between your conveyancer and the developer. Once an agreement has been made, this is known as a “conclusion of missives”.

The existing and new build conveyancing processes are different in Scotland. The seller is required to submit a Home Report when selling an existing property. However, when it comes to new build properties, this is not the case. This is because Home Reports delve into the current condition of a property and provide evidence of any long-lasting damage.

In its place, your conveyancer will arrange a mortgage valuation. Regardless of how developed the property is, your mortgage lender will be able to determine an approximate property value.

Read more on Conveyancing in Scotland

What Should I Ask When Buying a New Build?

Asking your solicitor and developer questions will ensure that you are organised and able to make a fully informed decision. It will give you a better understanding of the property development, especially those that are in the early stages. Here are some questions to consider:

  • When is the property due to be completed?
  • How much is the reservation fee and is it included in the total cost?
  • How long is the New Build Warranty?
  • What is and isn’t covered by the New Build Warranty?
  • Are there any discounts?

Your solicitor will be able to communicate with the developer on your behalf and give you sound advice on how to proceed.

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Finding a Conveyancer

Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 licensed conveyancers that operate in your area. You'll be able to compare quotes and save money on your conveyancing fees.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner, RMNJ Solicitors

With 19 years of experience in the residential conveyancing industry, Gareth Brooks is a partner and head of management for the conveyancing department at RMNJ Solicitors.

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