The five most common new build problems

With government incentives set in place in the UK specifically to entice first-time buyers to go for a new build property, it would be fair to assume that new builds are popular and appealing to the market.

However, with a recent report announcing new build homes only made up 9.6% of sales in 2020, new build properties have acquired a reputation for having numerous issues.

If you are building your own home, you may need to work closely with a builder who understands the differences in metric thread dimensions between screws and who understands the need to ensure the foundations are dry before building anything else. You’d be surprised at how often people forget these things and when you want a new build home, you want it done right the first time.

Google searches for “new build problems” saw a huge 9900% increase in the past year, and it is estimated that over 90% of new build buyers experience issues. Therefore, it is no wonder that three out of four home buyers would not consider buying a new build home.

In this article, building and construction expert Thomas Goodman from MyJobQuote explains the five most common issues found with new build properties and offers advice on what to do if this happens to you or how to avoid the issue altogether.

1) Cracks

The thought of noticing a substantial crack in your home’s interior or exterior walls is nightmare worthy; however, this is a common issue with new build properties.

Most new build properties will experience settlement cracks, which occur as the property settles in on its foundations. The length of this process can vary, with some experts predicting it takes just nine months to settle, but others saying at least three years. The actual length can vary, as it relies on external factors which can’t always be helped such as weather and climate.

Homes in colder weather can see expansion and contraction, which is one of the root causes for cracks in the foundation. So, when can cracks become worrying for the homeowner? If cracks continue to grow, or are very wide, then you must contact a reliable tradesperson as soon as possible. They will inspect the level of damage (if any) and fill the crack suitably and improve its appearance.

2) Condensation issues

You may think that by purchasing a new build property, you are avoiding any risk of damp and mould, which are typically present in much older properties in the UK. However, this, unfortunately, is not necessarily the case. Condensation occurs in a new build due to the amount of moisture used in the building process. As a new build can take up to 12 months to dry out properly, and are built to keep heat and air inside, without much ventilation, moisture tends to linger and cause damp and even mould.

Searches for “new build mould” saw a 9900% increase in Google searches this year, as many have noticed the dreaded black mould spores. To avoid any damp and condensation issues, ventilation is key. Keep your windows open and make sure no furniture is obstructing any ventilation ducts or are directly against internal walls. Allow air to circulate freely around the room.

3) Brickwork pointing

Pointing means the mortar which holds your bricks together. While bricks will last for a long time, the mortar will need to be checked more frequently to ensure there are no gaps. By checking your brickwork, you can avoid any severe issues arising in the property. Gaps in between the brickwork can cause issues such as damp and frost damage.”

Mortar damage can occur over time as it ages, or sooner if the work hasn’t been completed properly. If you notice the mortar has gaps, or you can brush out some of the mortar easily with your fingers, it’s important to get a professional to come in a repoint the work. While considering the repointing cost can be daunting, especially if it is the whole house, it is integral to maintaining the look and life of the property.

4) Insulation issues

New builds have often been described as eco-friendly, as they are typically built to be more energy-efficient than older properties and are built to retain heat. However, after conducting snagging surveys to determine whether or not the property has been built efficiently, many new build owners have reported that their property has insufficient or incorrect insulation.

Unfortunately, many homeowners have had to foot an expensive bill to properly insulate their new home in order to keep heat in. To avoid any issues further down the line, make sure you get the necessary surveys and checks done to ensure your home is properly insulated. Also, keep an eye on any draughts in the property and identify where they are coming from. Any gaps in window frames, for example, will need to be sealed up to help keep all the heat in.

5) New floors separating

In a similar way to how cracks can appear in walls, cracks can come up between newly laid hardwood boards. Cracks in between floorboards typically occur in the winter. When the indoors is warmer than outside, the wood flooring releases retained moisture and shrinks, thus causing thin cracks to appear. While this may be alarming, it is completely normal, as the floorboards are contracting with the changing temperature of the house.

If cracks become much bigger or you experience “cupping,” which occurs when the bottom of the wood remains wetter than the top, causing a concave in the top, then that’s when you should seek professional advice. A professional will check the floors and decide what action needs to be taken.

Photo by Andrew Mead