To Move Or Not To Move? That Is The Question

Does my new build house need a survey?

As a practicing surveyor, I am often asked by prospective clients why they should get a survey on a property that is essentially brand new. The logic goes that a new property hasn’t had time for things to go wrong and should be up to the current standards of construction. Surely such a property won’t be a problematic purchase?

The reality is a little different.

Bear in mind, for example, that over a tonne of water is contained in the brickwork of a new build house. Most of this is in the mortar and, in fact, the bricks, being kiln dried, frequently take on moisture in the first few months. The walls will therefore inevitably shift, change and settle quite considerably in the first few months – the result can be cracking, structural movement and envelope instability.

Why should I get a survey on a new build house?

It is also worth bearing in mind that the building regulations have changed a lot of the last few decades; righting the inaccuracies and mistakes of the guidance that went before. Construction is still not a perfect art, therefore, and mistakes can and are made.

Perhaps most importantly, the great majority of new builds are protected by a warranty (typically NHBC) which means that any problems with the build highlighted in the first two years will be sorted by the original builder, free of charge. For eight years after this, smaller problems are also covered. If you don’t get a survey during this time to highlight problems lurking beneath the surface, you could find yourself paying out thousands when the matter could have been handled for free.

The advice, therefore, is always to get a survey when buying a property; whatever size, price or age it might be. There are a number of different surveys to suit various properties and budgets, so it always worth enquiring – you don’t need to pay over the odds for something unnecessarily detailed.

One final point: never rely on the mortgage valuation. This is not for you, but for the lender. It will only highlight matters that are potentially disastrous to their investment, meaning that it will gloss over or totally ignore matters that will be expensive and inconvenient for you.