Considerations when buying a new build property - Williamsons Solicitors Skip to main content

Posted: 30/05/2024

Considerations when buying a new build property

Reading Time: 4 minutes

What is a New Build Property

A New Build Property is a property that has recently been constructed but never lived in before.

Buying off-plan

Usually, New Build Properties are purchased off plan.

The developer will firstly construct a show home to give buyers an idea of the property to be purchased.

A developer is likely to require an exchange of contracts which makes the purchase legally binding prior to the property being built.

Reservation Fee

You will need to pay a reservation fee when you enter into a reservation agreement with the developer. The reservation fee is usually around £750.00 and is non-refundable if you do not proceed with your purchase.

Will I need to pay a deposit?

You will need to pay a deposit when exchange of contracts takes place making your purchase legally binding. Sometimes, a developer will contribute to your deposit as an incentive to purchase the property.


Once the property has been built you will usually attend the property with the developer and check the property for defects that will need rectifying. We would recommend that you are arrange for a Snagging Survey to be carried out.

The developer is unlikely to delay a completion date due to minor works required.

Restrictive Covenants

Developers tend to include restrictive covenants on New Build Properties. A restrictive covenant will prevent or restrict what can be done on the property for example you may require consent to extend the property from the original developer even after the property has been sold. It is likely the original developer may also charge a fee for providing consent. Restrictive covenants bind the land and any future owner.


You should note that with most new properties it is common for a guarantee to be provided.

a) Insurance before completion – The builder is responsible for completing the home to the Warranty Standards. After exchange of contracts if, because of insolvency or fraud, your builder does not start or complete building your new home. NHBC Buildmark Cover will reimburse your deposit or arrange for the home to be completed in line with the NHBC Standards. Buildmark Cover will pay up to a maximum of 10% of the purchase price or £100,000, whichever is less.

b) During the first 2 years – builder warranty and NHBC Guarantee – The builder is responsible for putting right any damage caused by their failure to build to the necessary standards.

c) During years 3 to 10 – insurance after the builder warranty – the provider will provide insurance to cover the cost of putting right any physical damage in specified parts of the home after the date on the insurance certificate.

Building Regulations Approval

Building Regulation Approval is a set of standards to ensure the safety of the property. It is a requirement that New Build Properties are signed off by building control prior to first occupation.

Planning Obligations

New Build Properties are usually subject to a Section 106 Agreement. The agreement contains planning obligations entered into between the developer and the local authority to carry out certain planning requirements as part of the development, for example providing greenspace, recycling area etc. If the developer fails to satisfy the planning obligations this may result in the local authority carrying out the necessary requirements. Any costs incurred by the local authority will be repayable. The local authority will initially attempt to recoup the expense from the developer who entered into the agreement, however, if this is unsuccessful, under planning law, the liability for planning obligations transfers with ownership, making the owner of the property liable for the costs.


It is usual for developers to enter into an agreement with the Local Authority/Water Authority that once the development has completed, the Local Authority/Water Authority will adopt the roads/sewers and they will become maintainable at the public expense. The deeds usually provide that the developer will bring the road/sewers up to the necessary standards. In some cases, the Agreements with the Local Authority/Water Authority are still being drafted.
Please bear in mind that if the developer were to become insolvent and not complete the roads/sewers, it will be your responsibility to maintain and, if required by the Local Authority/Water Authority, to bring it up to the appropriate standards. You will appreciate that bringing roads/sewers up to the standard required by the Local Authority/Water Authority can be very expensive and it may be difficult to encourage other owners to join in and deal with this. Not only will it be at your expense, but if you wish to sell your property before the roads/sewers have been adopted by the Local Authority/Water Authority, then this could considerably affect the saleability of your home. Another buyer may also be reluctant to take the risk that the adoption costs could fall upon them.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a New Build Property?


  • New Build Properties are required to be energy efficient and should costs less to run.
  • Developers tend to give buyers an incentive to commit to the purchase of the property i.e. a contribution to legal fees, deposit or Stamp Duty Land Tax if applicable.
  • As part of the build, the developer may let you personalise the property i.e. colours and location of electrical sockets etc.


  • Some New Build Properties tend to be smaller than older properties.
  • New Build Properties can be delayed during construction and take longer to complete than initially expected. This may be problematic if a mortgage offer is expiring.
  • You may be living on a building site if the estate is still in the process of being built.

How can we help?

We will explain the legal process and documentation, ensuring that you fully understand the New Build Properties process. By working with us, you can have peace of mind that your legal requirements are met, and your rights are protected.



We’re ready to chat when you are

Drop us an email or give us a call for a no obligation chat to see if we can help.