Conveyance plan and Legal issues

Ask to see, or ask for a copy of the conveyance plan. Be sure exactly what land areas you are buying and the implications. Is it freehold or leasehold? If the latter ask how much the ground rent and management charges will be and the length of the lease. Rights of Way are usually a problem for someone at sometime and could hinder a re sale in the future. What legal restrictions are there on the use of your property and shared driveways? Quite often new developments have a restricted development covenant, which is a condition of the planning permission. This means that you will not be allowed to build an extension to your new home and may even be prevented from building a conservatory.

These are suggestions of things to ask and are not a substitute for legal advice. You are strongly recommended to seek legal advice before exchanging contracts on a property.

Is the road being conveyed to the County Council

This is an important consideration if you don’t want to find yourself with maintenance charges for the upkeep of the estate roads. Most new estate roads on a development are covered by the Section 38 agreement with the County Council. If the sales advisor does not know, ask your Solicitor to find out.

How much is the Council Tax for the home you are interested in

You may love the property and the area but is the Council Tax affordable. What band is your home likely to be in?  Check to see if the Council Tax banding for your particular house type is correct.  The band will be based on the value of the property back in April 1991.  To check if the band is correct find out what the value would have been in 1991 using the reverse calculator.

For those already living in a new home, check what band your neighbour’s homes are in. Enter postcodes for the identical house type as yours into the government website  If you are in a higher band than your neighbours you need to appeal to your local officer via the VOA website.  

Are there any protected trees on or near the property
Ask the builder if any trees are protected with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). If the answer is yes, ask if these trees are being trimmed or cut back before you move in.  Having a tree protected with a TPO can devalue a home and could cause damage, especially if the local TPO officer refuses to allow any work on any particular tree.  

Who are the suppliers for gas, water, mains drainage and electricity

Although you can change gas and electricity suppliers once you move in it is worth knowing this information.

Is the new home timber frame construction

Once completed, you may not be aware that your new home is of timber frame construction. We would advise that you check out the issues with timber frame homes pages, especially if a timber frame home is not detached.

How many weeks does it take to build a typical home on the development

With the exception of flats, which are difficult to generalise because of the variety of the structures and floors, it can take as little as eight weeks to build a two-storey house or as long as twenty six weeks. Three-storey townhouses, normally built in terraces, take on average 24 weeks to complete.

Usually, in order to allow time for adequate drying out and to achieve a good quality of finish, most developers allow an average of between 14 to 20 weeks to build the average two-storey house. Any quicker than this and standards could be compromised, any longer than this demonstrates that the builder, or the site manager, are not professionally motivated. Once the scaffolding has been dismantled, the average house can be completed in around ten to twelve weeks. Beware of unrealistic time-scales.

What is the Postal address and Postcode for the new home

This is useful to know for other checks you may wish to carry out and for insurance and change of address purposes.


How many parking spaces does the plot have. Is there a garage; if so, is power and lighting provided. Note, this may not be available to all garages, even if this is specified in the brochure.

The site manager: - his qualifications and experience

Your new home will only be as good as the site manager controlling the operations on the site. No matter how conscientious the tradesmen might be, if the site manager does not care about the homes he builds then no one else will. He must be an authoritative leader, with sufficient experience to command the respect of his tradesmen. If you get an opportunity to meet the site manager before reservation do so.

Is he presentable with a jacket and tie? How long has he been with the company? Is he happy in his work? Has he won the coveted NHBC Pride in the Job Award? Is he busy? (Good site managers are always very busy organising the site). Is he whiling away his day talking to the sales advisor? Does he fill you with confidence that he will build your home with as much care as he would his own? Is he professionally qualified? How long has he been a site manager? All of these questions will give you an idea of how good the site manager is. A good site manager will always try to build a high quality finished property.

How many NHBC 'Pride in the Job' awards did site managers win last year

This is a good guide to the emphasis the builder puts on the quality of his product. Many developers talk quality, but only a few regularly obtain independent recognition from the NHBC under their 'Pride in the Job' awards. These are only awarded to the best site managers. The companies that encourage and reward success in this competition will generally build a better quality home. If your builder or their region has not won many (or any) of these awards recently beware. Do not be taken in by other 'awards' from certain magazines or newspapers.

After sales service/policy

Most of the Plc. builders have an after sales department and are proud of the post-occupation service they offer. However it is worth asking about the procedure should you have problems with your new home. While the development is being built, the construction staff can normally organise any remedial work quickly and effectively. However, many builders require you to write to their offices before the matter can be dealt with. It is no good having a customer care department if it takes up to 12 weeks to correct non-urgent problems. Ask what happens after the building work is completed, Ask if the builder directly employs their own operatives to carry out the work. If this is the case, it can be quicker to get any problems remedied, but may indicate they expect problems. Ask people already living on the development about their experiences of the builder’s customer care service.

What is the ground bearing strata

This can depend on the previous use of the land. It may be unwise to consider anything built on a landfill site. Clay sites have caused problems in the past as the clay can shrink in dry weather causing subsidence and swell (heave) when wet. However, if the structural engineer’s foundation design and the NHBC requirements are strictly adhered to, problems should be unlikely. Sites on chalk may offer better foundation capacity.  

What type of foundations are used

This depends on the ground conditions, and the bearing capacity of the sub strata that the foundations transfer the load of the home to. Trench fill or strip foundations are normally used when the ground is good. Piled foundations are used to transfer the loading through unsuitable ground to underlying stable conditions. The type of ground your property is built on may affect your Buildings insurance premium. Clay soils generally have the most potential for movement as they change in volume as their moisture content alters during the seasons which can cause subsidence or heave.


Has the property the benefit of mains waste water drainage. Is the storm water drainage connected to the mains or via soakaways. If soakaways have been used for storm drainage, you will not have to pay surface water drainage charges.

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Questions to ask the builder

Who are the energy suppliers

Postal Address

How good is the Site Manager

Has the site won any awards

Timber frame construction

Council Tax banding

Customer care procedures

Type of foundations

Questions to ask when buying a house from a builder:-