After a couple finds 140 defects in their new home, they launch a Twitter account to shame the developer
Luke Mahon, a 45-year old marketing manager, paid £580,000 for a brand newTaylor Wimpey five-bedroom detached property in Woodley, near Reading. Like any couple who have chosen a brand new home, he and his wife Alison were looking forward to years of stress-free, low maintenance living, so they could concentrate on starting a family. What they got was a house so full of defects that they have resorted to setting up a Twitter account dedicated to them.
@MyHouseSucks shows an endless litany of problems from tiles peeling off the walls, to wonky doors and skirting boards, a complete lack of loft insulation, and even a toilet which instead of being placed centrally, is far too close to one wall.
In total, the couple told the Metro that they have found 140 defects in the past six months, and it was only after their efforts to deal with the company direct failed to yield any action that they resorted to Twitter.
A spokesman for the developer told the Daily Mail: “We would like to apologise to Mr Mahon and his wife for the issues they have experienced with their new home. We are in regular contact with the customers, and have met with them to discuss their specific concerns. During these meetings we have agreed the work that will be undertaken to resolve the issues and we will complete this as soon as possible.”
If you are planning to buy a newly-built property, it’s vital to check that it is registered with the National House-Building Council, because registered properties come with a 10-year warranty. However, this will only protect you from major structural problems, so you need to take your own precautions too.
It’s essential to have a nose around. You should visit the building site well before you buy and see how well the site is being managed. When the property is completed, make sure you inspect it yourself before buying, to ensure it is up to standard.
If the company in question does not allow you to do this, then your best bet is to walk away, because you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without checking them – so why would you buy a house on this basis? You should also search online to check the reputation of the building company, and any problems that have arisen with properties in the past.
When your solicitor is checking the documentation, they need to investigate the provision for snagging – to deal with the more minor problems with the finish. In most cases, the companies will state that any defects spotted in the first two years will be rectified. However, you may need to go further in order to ensure problems are dealt with in a timely manner – and you are not just fobbed off until the two-year deadline has passed.
It’s sensible to insist that the paperwork includes a time limit for all defects to be rectified, and a clause arranging for a percentage of the purchase price to be withheld until the defects are put right. The developers don’t like adding things like this, but in a buyers’ market you will have the room to negotiate.
After exchange, before you complete on the property, it’s a good idea to have an independent snagging company inspect the property, so they can identify any defects, and the developer can be made to fix them before you move in. Snags are not unusual – in fact 90% of all new builds have them, and the average home has up to 100. It therefore makes sense to work on the basis that there will be problems, and the aim is to get them sorted as quickly as possible.
Ideally you should get all of this done while the developer is on site, as they are far more likely to solve them quickly if they can come in during one of their scheduled site days than if they have to make time to come back.
Once you have the defects resolved, you have every right to expect years of maintenance-free living. However, as the Mahon’s experience shows, it’s important to take the right steps at the outset, or the defects in your new build could cause every bit as much stress as the maintenance on an older property.