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The government passed the Building Safety Act 2022 on 29 April and a raft of new measures, including a New Homes Ombudsman, will be introduced, adding further protection for buyers of new build homes.
There are lots of advantages to buying a new-build house or flat rather than one that has been pre-owned. Although buying a brand-new property can be slightly more expensive than purchasing a home built several years ago, your longer term costs may be lower.
All the appliances in your new-build home will be new, you will not need to update plumbing or electricity, and the property will have been built to modern, eco-friendly criteria, meaning that your heating bills are likely to be lower than with an older property.
Nor will you need to spend time and money fitting a new kitchen or bathroom or updating tired old fixtures and fittings. Many people find the perks and convenience of a new build property worth the extra money.
Generally, new build properties come with solidly fitted windows, no marks on the walls, a new boiler that doesn't need replacing, clean floors and carpet, and a newly fitted kitchen and modern bathroom.
In terms of the home buying process, new build homes can be simpler to buy. It can be easier to complete a purchase on a new build house or flat because usually you're not buying from an individual seller still living in the property, so there should be a chain-free transaction.
Sometimes multiple buyers and sellers within a chain can cause long delays and chains can collapse if someone in the middle pulls out.
Buying new build means you can complete the sale quicker and move in within around a month. Buying a new build suits people who want to buy quickly, or who do not want to spend a lot of time improving a dated house.
New build properties may come with warranties against problems such as plumbing leaks and malfunctions but you still need to insure against potential damage not covered by the warranty.
The weather, flooding, fire, ground movement and accidents are all examples where your home could be damaged and you would need insurance.
When you come to arrange new build home insurance there are a number of different options, and you can shop around to find the best new home insurance for your needs.
There are quite a few differences to look out for when deciding whether to buy an old property or a new build home, especially when it comes to maintaining your home and taking out insurance.
The older the property the more likely it's been lived in by more than one group of occupants. This means that when you buy the property it's likely that it will be in a well-worn condition. The previous owners may have invested in improvements, but many of the older properties you look at will often have at least one quirk you will want to repair or upgrade.
It might be repainting the walls and filling in cracks in the ceiling or replacing the boiler or carpet. You may find a place that is perfect in every way, but the bathroom looks completely outdated. There are also things you can’t see that might need updating, such as the electrics, or the central heating.
On top of that, you're more likely to be buying from someone who is also looking for a new place to move into, which would result in a 'chain'. This is where each person’s move date is delayed until the last person in the chain has their mortgage approved, their survey and conveyancing complete and their removal firm booked.
A chain can make the home buying process much longer than if you are buying a new build home, which often has no occupant currently living in it.
New build homes can suffer from having a modern feel, and they can be built with smaller rooms than older properties. Many of the new build properties are built by the same developers to similar specifications using similar materials, so your new home might not feel as unique or have the charms of an older property.
Older properties might be more likely to come with more issues, but they can also come with more character. New build homes are also usually more expensive than their older equivalents, as a result of having newer features and modern fittings.
Additionally, and quite surprisingly, new build homes are not always free from having problems. That contemporary bathroom using slick materials might look fantastically shiny and new, but you might find a cracked tile or two. Sometimes there are serious issues with the kitchen fittings or water pressure, or even the building work itself.
It's not uncommon for new build homes to come with their own quality issues. This is often because builders might not have finished the work properly due to working towards tight deadlines, and on multiple building developments at the same time. New build homes are often worked on by the same companies looking to get them ready as quickly as possible to make a sale.
While the quality of a new build home is generally good and you probably won't face as many problems as you might with an old property, you should still look out for signs of poor workmanship and assess your home insurance options. Luckily most new build properties come with a type of construction warranty insurance.
Normally when you are about to buy a property you might pay for a professional to come check it out and inspect the quality of the construction. This is known as a survey and many lenders insist on it before they will give you a mortgage.
With new build properties it's not always possible to inspect the house or flat you want to buy, especially if you buy it off plan.
For this reason, there is a scheme to which many building companies belong, which has been set up to reassure and protect buyers of new build properties.
It's known as the Buildmark Scheme and is run by the NHBC, the UK’s leading independent provider of warranty and insurance for new homes. The Buildmark Scheme provides a guarantee of the quality of workmanship in your new build home, and gives you the option of taking out new build insurance.
It's a new build insurance warranty that means you can buy a new build home with confidence.
The NHBC scheme covers perhaps as many as 80% of new build homes in the UK. But there are other warranty providers such as Premier Guarantee and Checkmate. Some new-build homes will not have a warranty, so check yours does, and, if it doesn’t have one, ask why.
According to the NHBC, the Buildmark policy covers around 80% of new homes built in the UK, equivalent to protecting around 1.5 million homes. It says that in the 80 years it has operated the scheme, the NHBC has provided warranties for around 30% of the housing stock in the UK.
The Buildmark scheme lasts for ten years. It provides protection for consumers from the point at which they exchange contracts, right through to the end of the 10th year of ownership, so long as you're still the owner of the new build property.
The NHBC inspects and directly insures new build homes as part of the Buildmark scheme. If the builder of a new build home or development is registered with the National House Building Council (NHBC) then you will be protected by the Buildmark warranty. This is a 10-year home insurance and construction warranty, but it doesn't work exactly the same way as standard home buildings insurance.
The first two years: Within the first two years the builder will put right any issues that may arise as a result of the builder's work. So if a door isn't closing properly or a window won't open correctly the NHBC Buildmark warranty means you can get it fixed without paying anything extra.
Years three to ten: NHBC Buildmark will provide insurance against any issues arising as a result of the work done by its builders only. This means you're not protected against wear and tear, or any issues that naturally occurred at no fault of the builders.
When buying a new build home check if the builder is registered with the NHBC, and the building comes with Buildmark warranty and insurance. If not, they might offer a different kind of guarantee, although your mortgage provider will probably insist there is Buildmark warranty on the building. The NHBC Buildmark is the industry standard.
Regardless, you should still consider taking out buildings insurance on a new build as general wear and tear, warping and shrinkage can still occur with the newest of materials. Your Buildmark warranty is unlikely to cover that.
Deposit and exchange of contracts: The Buildmark scheme provides cover if you lose your deposit because the builder becomes insolvent. The payout is limited to 10% of the purchase price of £100,000, whichever is higher.
Builder warranty: For the first two years, the builder must put right any faults in the home you have bought. A dispute resolution service is also available.
After this you have insurance protection if the builder didn't build the home to the required standard, built on contaminated land, or failed to comply with building regulations. The cover post purchase is limited to £1 million.
Buildmark doesn't cover incidents or problems that happen, which aren't related to the building process or quality. So it does not cover:
Wear and tear inside or outside, or failing to maintain your new build home properly
Storms, flooding or other weather problems
Damage to your property due to fire and smoke
Burglary, accidents within the home, losses of possessions outside the home
Any building work done after the property has been completed that isn't connected with the original build – for example an extension done by a different building company
Although the Buildmark scheme and other warranties protect you against faults and flaws in the building as a result of mistakes by the builder, it doesn't cover you if your home burns down and has to be rebuilt, or your possessions are stolen or damaged.
So you will still need to compare home contents insurance and home buildings insurance for your new build home.
To find the best new build buildings insurance and new build contents insurance you can use our comparison tool to shop around and best the most competitive home insurance quotes for new build homes.
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