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Advice for a mum-to-be buying a newbuild house

(10 Posts)
karenswansea Mon 28-Jan-13 20:34:30

Hi, my husband and I have been looking to move for over six months, because we were planning a family and live in a flat. We’re finding the market really slow for houses, and can’t find what we want coming up for sale. It looks like a little one will be coming along sooner than we anticipated, so now we’re considering a new build house. Anyone got any advice? We’re trying to imagine what we’ll need when we have (hopefully!) two children, and are wondering whether some of the draw backs of a new build home will good for a family.

We’ve found a development in an area that we like, and a plot we like for a four bedroom house. One issue that one of my friends raised is that the house doesn’t have a utility room in the kitchen. It’s a big house, with a separate downstairs study, dining room and living room and what to us seems like a really big kitchen with plenty of room for a play area or another table. Does not having a utility room matter? We hadn’t thought of it, but we’re not used to living in a big house! It does have four good sized bedrooms, which we like.

None of the newbuild houses we’ve looked at has a driveway outside the front door, which we had been looking at before. Instead the driveways go down the side of house, but the one we like doesn’t have a shared driveway, which most of the other newbuilds we looked at had. The houses are built close to the road as well, although the road is a very quiet residential street, with a front area that is only about three feet deep. There is a metal fence around the front area, but to get to the driveway I think you have to walk about of the front gate and the driveway is there on the side of the house. I guess we could use the back door to the garden which also comes out on the side driveway, but we’re trying to imagine loading up a car with two kids and whether that will matter?

All the gardens are quite small too on these new houses. The garden of the plot we like is bigger, probably 7.5 m deep and maybe 9 m wide, but compared to an older house it’s quite small, and it’s a little bit smaller than an older part of this area which was newbuild I guess ten years ago, but not a lot smaller. It’s hard to imagine how much space we’ll need for us and the kids in the summer. And the price for the newbuild puts it above the cost of similar houses in the area by about £10k to £15k, but we know you pay more for a newbuild, and it means all repairs and boiler breakdowns are covered for a few years, and we won’t need to do any decorating while we’re busy with the little one.

The up sides are we like it, it’s in a nice area, and in the catchment for the schools we want to go to. And they’re offering us the asking price for our flat, and have come down on the price a bit, and are giving us some extras. Plus we’ll be in and settled in plenty of time for the baby!
Any advice would be great. We don’t to buy something and regret it later.


sparkle9 Mon 28-Jan-13 20:53:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

specialsubject Mon 28-Jan-13 21:29:39

newbuilds are generally either tiny houses on tiny gardens, or big houses on tiny gardens. If you are interested in gardening or want privacy, they are no good. If that doesn't apply, and there is a park nearby, then it could suit given the advantages of a new house.

also check if that road is quiet all the time, or a morning and evening rat run.

Has anyone moved onto the development yet? If so, see if they're willing to chat to you about the builder's standards and how any issues are resolved. We bought a new build and ended up with a snagging list (list of defects) 3 sides of A4 long, mostly due to careless tradesmen not giving a toss about the standard of their work (little things but infuriating (to me) like plug sockets being wonky, through to big things like the lights either side of the fireplace being at different heights and distances from the fireplace iyswim). We had about 12 months of arguing with them, and because I was the only person on site all the time (I was studying so was home a lot) and I didn't have kids or anything else to do with my time, I was able to get it sorted out by sheer bloody mindedness, while the families who had moved in didn't have the time or energy to really push it.

Also, how long will they be on site after you've moved in? It works both ways - if they're still there the things can get resolved much quicker, but they'll be noisy from at least 8am and the place will be a dust bowl/mud pit until the roads are sorted. (And get your solicitor to withhold something for the satisfactory completion of the roads if that hasn't been done).

Overall I liked our house, it was (after the initial hassle) straightforward, we decorated after about a year because we were sick of magnolia, but we got to know our neighbours really well as we all moved on on the space of about 4 months, and then got to know new people as the "community" feel carried on. It was only a small development, which helped, but still it seemed easier to make friends.

About the garden - will it be flat? And are there parks nearby, if it isn't a cul de sac? It is very much the price you pay for new homes, the small outside space - if they're putting a patio in for you, see how big it is and if you can get a few extra slabs put down while they're at it, ours was big enough for a bistro table and 4 chairs, but only pushed into the table, not sitting at it!

Finally, and it's an obvious one, check the dimensions carefully, and make sure they're not using scale furniture and the old no-tv trick in the show home to make it look more spacious. Our neighbours had a dining room you could barely fit a table and chairs in, and that was a 4 bed, just a different design to ours. It's doable, you just need smaller furniture, but it's something to be aware of.

Phew, sorry for the essay, but feel free to PM me if you have any other queries.

karenswansea Tue 29-Jan-13 12:29:36

Thanks everyone.

sparkle9, we'd be completely happy without a utility room, but most of the houses in that area do have them, and we worry that it might detract when we want to sell the house on. Does a bigger kitchen make up for not having one? I'm glad you love the house, we like our plot, and are relying on people liking it like we do if we have to sell it on later, so was pleased to read that.

specialsubject, the gardens are small, but is about 10 x 7.5 m (33 feet by 25 feet) small for a newbuild, or about normal? Our plot faces a different direction so offers a lot more privacy than some others. We don't want to put much in the garden, just a few plants and bushes and have room for the kids to play around. Judging how big it will be without it being built is tough. And there's a small park with a play area on the estate. The road should be really quiet - it doesn't go anywhere.

ravenousbugblatterbeast, no-one moves in for a while yet. They all seem to be selling off plan. Our house builder is one of the big ones and has promised us a snagging visit a week before, to identify anything we want them to put right before we move in. And they say we can call them out any time for the next two years. There will still be about 6 months of construction after we move in, so I will be at home with the baby for some of it, and can sort them coming around if we find problems. Will that be enough? We are prepared for the noise, and love the community sound of new estates! The garden is flat, but only roughly 10 x 7.5 m. We don't know how that compares to other newbuilds though. Do you mean paying £10k to £15k more for a newbuild is normal? None of our friends or family have bought newbuild so we're not sure :s The dimensions from the plan look ok - we measured our furniture to check there was enough space. If you mean we might not end up with the dimensions the plans say, then I hadn't even thought of that. I'm interested to know which housebuilder you had problems with, so will attempt to PM you now, but I'm a newbie to mumsnet!

Thanks a lot everyone,


Onlyaphase Tue 29-Jan-13 12:39:49

Utility rooms are useful if you have a dog, as you can shut it up in there when people are visiting or the dog has muddy feet. I have 3 dogs and wouldn't live in a house without a utility room. Also no utility means that the washing machine etc will be in your kitchen and so it will be noisy.

Also, check your mortgage and deposit size - a friend of mine has just lost her sale of a 2 year old flat as mortgage companies need a 20% deposit on new flats. I don't know if this also applies to new houses.

Re the drive not being at the front of the house - only you can work out the logistics of shopping, car seats and toddlers who don't want to get in or out of the car and run away. Same for the garden really - do you have room for a table set, trampoline, paddling pool, game of football? Would there be room for a birthday party for one of your children without being cramped? Other gardens around you will be similar, so think about how you'll feel with older children bouncing on trampolines right next to your fence all evening.

karenswansea Wed 30-Jan-13 13:06:42

Thanks Onlyaphase, I hadn't thought about dogs! We found out about the mortgage limits for newbuild, apparently it's 20% on flats and 15% on houses. No 10% mortgages on newbuilds.

We've got all the fun of learning how to load the car with kids yet. One of my friends said when she had children she stopped using the front door anyway - shopping and kids all go through the back door now.

As for a game of football in the garden - definitely not! But it might just take a trampoline and table with some chairs, with room to get around in between. It's a corner plot and we're separated from our only neighbours by our garages, so noise from neighbours kids wouldn't be a problem. But I'm thinking the utility room might be expected on these bigger four beds, so thanks for the heads up.


KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing Wed 30-Jan-13 13:23:28

We have a newbuild (well, it was fairly new when we bought it). We've got great storage space which I love, but no utility room which for us is no major hardship. One thing to watch out for is awkward shaped bedrooms - our second bedroom is a funny shape because of our en-suite and it's a bugger to configure furniture.

I hate that we're so close to our neighbours - their back door is right next to ours, but that doesn't sound like it would be a problem for you.

The one thing I would look into, is school provision. You mentioned that it's in the catchment of a school you like, but if they are building a lot of houses that would put pressure on the school places and there may be plans to change the catchment or build a new primary school. Worth checking with the council.

If you're buying off plan I take it you have some choices about the kitchen? If I had bought my house brand new I would have wanted (which the original owners didn't seem to organise) - decent cupboard storage, double oven and space to fit standard sized washing machine/dishwasher. If you've no utility room make sure there's somewhere to store things like ironing board, mop, hoover etc in a convenient place.

If you go ahead, be prepared for your snagging visit - inspect everything carefully and take a spirit level. I don't think a single plug socket in our house is straight! Also, check that wooden doors have been treated properly before painting so that the knots don't show through. (Other things the previous owners of our house didn't check and we didn't notice until it was too late!).

Themobstersknife Wed 30-Jan-13 13:33:31

It is not always the case that newbuilds have tiny gardens. Ours is a decent size and our friends is huge. Neither of our houses is tiny. They have great dimensions.
It sounds really nice to me, so I would be very tempted if I were you. We have had two new builds, and no major problems with the snagging. The builders guarantees have been very useful with a young family and not knowing tradesmen in the area. Things have been fixed very quickly. Your garden sounds a decent size. What way does it face? This is the one thing I would look at very carefully. As the houses are generally close together, if your garden faces north or east, you might not get much sun, as the nearby houses will be casting shade. This was one of the reasons we moved from our old new build. It had one of the largest gardens, but had no sun after about 4pm, which meant no nice warm bbq evenings!
Not having a utility isn't the end of the world. As other posters have said, it will be key for some buyers with dogs, but others won't be bothered.

karenswansea Fri 01-Feb-13 14:18:29

Thanks KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing and Themobstersknife, some useful things to remember if we go ahead with it! All that's left to worry about now is the price smile

Thanks to all for your help and suggestions.

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