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Common Problems with New Build Homes

Adele MacGregor

Written by Reviewed by Martyn Maxwell

26th May 2023 (Last updated on 5th Apr 2024) 6 minute read

Common issues with new builds range from cosmetic defects to cracks in the wall. Poor installation, faulty pointing and poorly fitted goods are also common.

Home buyers may be expecting a dream home without issues. After all, one of the perks of a new build property is that it doesn't come with the maintenance of older properties.

Building standards must be met during the construction of new homes. However, the average new build home can often have problems - or “snags”. As a result, a snagging survey is highly recommended for anyone buying a home in a new build development. Any issues found by the surveyor can then be rectified by the homebuilder before moving in.

Below we look at the most common problems with newly built properties and what you can do if they are found in your home.

  1. 1. Poorly Fitted Windows and Doors
  2. 2. Poorly Fitted Loft Insulation
  3. 3. Brickwork Pointing
  4. 4. Cracks in Walls
  5. 5. Unfinished or Poor Plastering and Decor
  6. How Will a Snagging Survey Help?
  7. What to Do If You Find an Issue?
  8. What If I Have a Dispute with the Developer?
  9. Finding a Snagging Surveyor with Compare My Move

1. Poorly Fitted Windows and Doors

A common issue is that doors and windows are scratched or incorrectly fitted. These can cause safety issues, but they could also impact the energy efficiency of the home. Not to mention the annoyance of a window or door that doesn’t work as it should.

Draughts, especially in the winter, can cause a loss of heat and let cold air in. Additionally, it can lead to moisture entering the home. Faulty windows and doors could also compromise security, leaving you vulnerable to break-ins.

2. Poorly Fitted Loft Insulation

Poorly fitted insulation in a loft is another concern in new builds. This may be something that is missed by a homeowner as it is out of the main living areas of the house. As with badly fitted windows, this can also impact the energy efficiency of the home. A poorly insulated property can lose around a quarter of its heat via the roof, says the Energy Saving Trust.

The UK government recommends a minimum insulation thickness of 270mm. Better insulation in a loft ultimately saves you money on your energy bills. Good insulation can also increase the value of your home. With better energy efficiency comes a more favourable Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

3. Brickwork Pointing

Another common issue with new-build homes is faulty brickwork pointing. This is where the mortar set between the bricks may have gaps, cracks or other issues. Not only does this impact the look of your home externally, but it can also cause major defects within the home.

Over time this can lead to water ingress, causing damp-related issues in the home. This can be a major problem as damp can cause damage to interior walls and items in the home. It can also develop into a health hazard if left untreated.

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4. Cracks in Walls

As a new property settles into its foundations, small cracks can appear in the walls. Settlement can last years but new-build homeowners should only notice signs in the first year.

If they are small, fine lines, this is often expected. Minor cracks due to shrinkage are often nothing to worry about. Cracks that are 2mm or less are generally regarded as being cosmetic. These are unlikely to impact a property’s structural stability or safety. Usually, they can be repaired with filler or sealant.

Problems occur, however, when the cracks are larger and more prominent. NHBC state that you should contact their claims department in the event that a crack:

  • Is more than 5mm wide
  • Visible inside and outside the property
  • Wide at one end and narrow at the other
  • Has significantly widened in length since you first noticed it

    5. Unfinished or Poor Plastering and Decor

    This could include uneven or unfinished paint, wallpaper and tiles. Some homes may even have unfinished or poorly finished plastering. This can cause knock-on issues for the paintwork, wallpaper and tiling. Poor plastering can cause issues with internal walls, such as cracking and flaking.

    If work has been rushed and not up to the standards you expect, raise this with the home builder.

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    How Will a Snagging Survey Help?

    A snagging survey can identify issues in the home. This allows builders to rectify issues before you move in. This is essentially a property survey on a new build. It can provide evidence, found by a professional, to back up a claim made to the home builder.

    Also known as a snagging list, it can highlight the issues we have listed above. It can also find snagging issues which include, but are not limited to:

    • Poorly installed kitchens
    • Poorly installed bathroom fittings
    • Exposed electrical wiring
    • Uneven or loose roof tiles
    • Faulty pipes and drainage
    • Issues with plumbing
    • Unfinished fittings
    • Structural defects

      Even if issues are not found, or are very minor, a snagging survey can provide peace of mind for buyers of new homes.

      What to Do If You Find an Issue?

      If you find a problem with your new build home, you should contact the home builder. Having a snagging survey completed will provide you with evidence from a professional. This can hold a lot more clout in a claim or dispute with the home builder.

      It is recommended, if possible, to raise the issue before you move into the home. Not only does this make it easier for the home builder to work in the home, but it is also for the sake of the claim. If you already live in the home, the builder could argue that any damage happened after moving in.

      A new build warranty, such as the National House Building Council NHBC Buildmark policy, will give some protection when it comes to issues. For example, the builder must repair defects that don’t comply with NHBC’s technical requirements. This is within the first two years and is known as the “builder warranty period”.

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

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      What If I Have a Dispute with the Developer?

      If you have a dispute with the developer over an issue, you should contact your new home warranty provider. They may step in and help settle the matter. Your new build solicitor can offer expert advice on the next steps.

      A snagging survey in this case can serve as evidence that issues are present. The inspection can bolster your claim, so hiring a surveyor is worth considering. You can then go through the complaints procedure of your warranty.

      If the issue escalates, you could consider seeking legal action against the builder. Be aware that this will incur the extra costs of a solicitor and may take some time to resolve.

      Finding a Snagging Surveyor with Compare My Move

      If you have concerns about your new build home or want peace of mind, a snagging survey can be invaluable. The snagging list can identify outstanding issues and check that the home meets building regulations.

      Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 snagging surveyors in your local area. Our team takes on the best surveyors in the industry, ensuring they are qualified and reliable.

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      Compare My Move's integrated surveying and removal comparison form can match you with up to 6 surveyors and up to 6 removal companies. In just a few extra steps, you can choose the right companies for you and save up to 70% on your total costs.

      Adele MacGregor

      Having worked at Compare My Move for over five years, Adele specialises in covering a range of surveying topics.

      Martyn Maxwell

      Reviewed by Martyn Maxwell

      Director & Senior Snagging Inspector, New Build Inspections

      Martyn Maxwell (DipHE, BSc (Hons), MRPSA) is a Senior Snagging Inspector and Director of New Build Inspections.

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