Consumers have a right to reject most goods and demand a refund if they fail to live up to expectations. Property, however, is exempt from the Sale and Supply of Goods Act. So what can you do about problems with a new home?
Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, has the following advice:
If your home is less than 10 years old – even if you are not the first owner – it is almost certainly covered by a warranty. In 80 per cent of cases this will be the Buildmark policy provided by NHBC. Other policies include BLP, LABC, Premier Guarantee, Checkmate and Zurich. Most of these policies work on the same principle:
• During the first two years, the policy covers most defects. Contact your builder directly in the first instance. If your builder is no longer in business; contact NHBC. • In years 3-10, the policy will only cover only major defects, such as structural or weatherproofing problems.
• From year 11 onwards you will have to rely on your own insurance policy.
Before the initial two-year period expires, give your home a thorough going-over and write a final report of any outstanding problems to your builder.
One option is to employ a surveyor to undertake a "snagging survey" to list defects which need attention. Send a copy to your builder. This will cost from £300. At its best, a snagging survey will help apply pressure on a builder to sort out defects.
If your builder does not respond satisfactorily, your next move should be to escalate your complaint to the NHBC – or other warranty-provider – as soon as possible.
If you don't receive any satisfaction from your warranty provider you could:
• Complain to NHBC or other warranty provider. • Make a claim about the warranty provider to the Financial Ombudsman Service. • Issue a claim in court. • Contact the Consumer Code for Homebuilders. However, for example in 2013, home buyers using the service claimed a total of £133,845, but only received £26,512.
A Snaggers Blog
HomeSnag inspectors are experts at inspecting new-build houses. This blog shares real examples to demonstrate the importance of getting your new build house or apartment snagged professionally
"I always insist that there is specific provision for snagging," says Thomas Moran, partner at law firm Speechly Bircham. "Reputable developers do this anyway, but there are all sorts in the market, some big, some small, so you need a contractual promise than within, say, a year they will come back to remedy any minor defects in the finishing."
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