Buying a new property from a builder in Scotland has some significant differences from buying a pre-existing property marketed by an estate agent. One of the main differences is how the completion date (when you get the keys) is set. With an existing property, a date is almost always fixed in the contract. With a new build, the house is often still being built when the new build conveyancing process begins, so fixing the date is not possible until certain key ‘sign-offs’ have been given.
Firstly, a ‘completion certificate’ is required from the local authority before anyone is allowed to occupy a new property. Secondly, the property’s new build insurer will confirm that their policy will be put at risk.
The builder will give you an estimated completion date at the beginning of the transaction, which may be affected by a number of factors such as bad weather, the availability of materials or if there is a delay in the final visit from the insurer or the inspection from the Building Standards Officer who issues the completion certificate. One of the implications of this is that you cannot arrange removal services or furniture delivery until you have had confirmation from your solicitor that the necessary sign-offs have been completed and are in place.
Your new property will be covered either by a policy from the new build insurer (such as the National House Building Council (NHBC)) or, if the builder is a small developer, by cover from the architect who oversaw the development. Defects will normally come under two categories, ‘snagging’ or structural aspects. Any obvious defects will be covered by insurance or the architect’s cover.
When you move into a new property you should list any defects or potential defects and make them known to the builder. This includes defects in white goods, however ongoing responsibility for white goods is limited with cover provided to an extent by your statutory rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979.
Defects which arise within the first two years will be covered if there is an NHBC policy in place, and this requires the builder to remedy any such issues. This does not include, for example, cracks appearing in the paint, which can often be the case in a new-build property as the new house settles. However, external cracks should be dealt with by the builder. Any structural issues within the first ten years of a property’s life will also be covered by an NHBC policy.
We are a team of approachable, responsive, client-focused conveyancing solicitors, who pride ourselves on offering personalised, tailored advice.
Operating throughout Scotland, we offer an open door policy and legal services tailored to your needs and budget. Our experts have extensive knowledge in the Scottish property market and we offer our services in all areas across Scotland. In many cases, the process can be completed virtually without the need to come into our offices.
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