Understanding New Build Warranties

Part of the appeal of a new build property is that it will have fewer problems. It’ll be built to modern standards, and less likely to need repair work in the immediate future. Thus, for many, it’s perceived as a safer option than the equivalent period property.

While this is often the case, it’s not always so. For this reason, most new build homes will come with a warranty. This is there to provide peace of mind to the buyer. If something does go wrong with the property, then the company will put it right.

Around three quarters of new builds in the UK are covered by the National House-Building Council’s ‘Buildmark’ warranty. While this isn’t the only warranty provider, the others work in much the same way.

While a warranty is technically optional, it’s something that’s insisted on by most lenders. Thus, buyers are typically covered for at least ten years.

What’s covered?

In most cases, warrantees are split into two distinct periods, each offering different levels of cover.

During the first couple of years, you’ll be protected by defects insurance. If you spot anything that’s wrong with the home, then the builder will be obliged to come in and put it right. This includes everything from badly-sealed windows to faulty electrics. Get your solicitor to check how long this period lasts before you buy.

After this period, you’ll be covered by structural insurance. This means that major problems with the structure of the home are the responsibility of the builder, while minor non-structural ones are the responsibility of the homeowner. 

If you keep a snagging list, you can track these minor faults so that they can be raised later on. You’ll obviously need to submit your complaint before the defects insurance expires. You can either make the snagging list yourself, or you can have a professional surveyor come in and take a look on your behalf.

Resolving disputes

In some cases, the builder won’t honour the warranty. This might be because they are dishonest – but disputes can sometimes occur even between honest parties. What you view as defective, they might view as acceptable. 

To get these issues resolved, you might ultimately appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service. But before taking things that far, you might first raise the problem with your warranty provider. They might be able to compell the builder to take action.

It’s important to note that the warranty is attached to the building itself, not the person living in it. Thus, if you decide to sell while the warranty is still active, then you’ll transfer it to the new homeowner – if the warranty is worded in such a way that this is possible.

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