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Purpose built flats

(14 Posts)
Artisana Tue 27-Dec-16 00:46:39

We're downsizing and have seen a lovely first floor flat, built within the last two years. Having always lived in houses, my only doubt is about potential noise transmission - there would be someone living above us.

Can anyone share their experiences about new builds? I know its a bit of a first world problem but it's a big commitment and lifestyle change for us and I'm nervous about getting it wrong.

Thanks.

ijustwannadance Tue 27-Dec-16 00:58:38

It depends on your neighbours really and how much general noise bothers you. A friend lives below someone with laminate flooring and a very excitable dog. Constant scrambling of paws/claws above was pain in the arse.

There is usually very little storage space too.

SillySongsWithLarry Tue 27-Dec-16 08:28:04

New build flats are lovely. They are all shiny and new and the ones I have been in are well insulated. My two main concerns are steep service charges, and resale value. There is a market for brand new flats, not so much for second hand new builds.

YelloDraw Tue 27-Dec-16 08:54:53

New flats are built to good sound proofing specifications and you shouldn't hear much of any day to day noise.

Obviously if someone above you has a party you'll hear that.

There is usually very little storage space too.

That just isn't true any more. The cheap shit ones don't have any storage. Most blocks build with a utility cupboard at least.

As PP says 'new' new build flats don't hold their value as there is always another brand new block going up. But a flat in a 2 or 3 year old block won't have the 'new' premium and the snagging and block issues should have already been dealt with.

Check service charge and who the mgmt co is? is ther a string residents committee? Has the block got anything unusual like communal hot water or heating? Several newer developments in London have central hot water for green credentials and it is expensive and shit.

Artisana Thu 29-Dec-16 18:22:46

Apologies for lack of response, recovering from norovirus sad.

Thanks, lots of useful tips here, especially as to whether they hold their value and central hot water which I'd never heard of.

SwearyGodmother Thu 29-Dec-16 18:30:29

We have an older new build - it's 15 now but we've owned it from new. Yes we paid a premium for it but that was recouped a couple of years in as said upthread and it's now worth more than three times what was paid for it. We have plenty of storage and no noise issues - though we're on the top floor. We also don't have complaints from our downstairs neighbours so I don't expect that there is much noise transmission.

We are owner managed - you don't actually need a professional management company these days you can set up a company of the owners of the flats. I'm not sure how it works but the freeholders have to allow it. It keeps our service charge quite low - it's actually gone down by 25% recently due to careful and prudent management.

At some point you're likely to have to extend the lease - if it's under 80 years it's unlikely to be mortgageable and therefore becomes unsellable. We're doing this at the moment as a group action with most of our neighbours and it's not hugely expensive in terms of the value of the flat but we do have to come up with about £25k (this can be added to a mortgage).

Flat living is also really convenient in terms of getting older (though we're not there yet). We have no stairs to navigate and no garden to manage- the grounds are looked after as part of our service charge and we have a balcony for ourselves. I can't see us moving.

MiladyThesaurus Fri 30-Dec-16 11:24:41

I lived in a new build flat and the thick concrete floors meant I never heard anything from my upstairs (or downstairs) neighbours.

I had plenty of storage space too. Much more than in any of the early 20th century houses I've lived in.

You got the same kind of house from the next door flat as you would in a semi detached house.

HowardMoonsJazzTrumpet Fri 30-Dec-16 11:33:30

It's funny re the market for brand new vs resale new build isn't it? As a previous poster says, I'd rather buy a building where the initial snags have been ironed out, plus in a 2/3yr old+ house/flat you have the benefit of being able to assess the neighbourhood more effectively. What are the neighbours like? In a brand new set up where it's all shells and show homes you are being sold a dream and have no idea of what the reality of the community will be like. Obviously you could get a nightmare neighbour at any point but it's nice to be able to get a feel for the block/street.

(Disclaimer : I live in an old house grin)

LBOCS2 Fri 30-Dec-16 11:44:28

We are owner managed - you don't actually need a professional management company these days you can set up a company of the owners of the flats. I'm not sure how it works but the freeholders have to allow it. It keeps our service charge quite low - it's actually gone down by 25% recently due to careful and prudent management.

There was never any requirement to have an independent management agency to do it for you. You just need either a recognised Residents' Association or an RMC enshrined in the lease, then they can decide whether to bring in an agent.

Personally, I wouldn't self manage anything and it's what I do for a living. There's just too much liability.

Most recently I've been working directly with developers so in terms of service charges I would suggest that you look at whether it's a realistic figure - there's a lot of pressure on managing agents to keep figures low from developers because it encourages people to buy but you find a year/two years down the line that you either have to hoick up the charges or have massive deficits as what's being collected isn't covering the costs.

What a PP said about HVAC/central heating systems is true, there's a lot of movement towards greener heating and hot water provision in order to get planning permission and although theoretically it's cheaper and greener and things like that, it's still very new to the industry and so I think there have been teething problems, both in operation and charging for it.

Personally if I were looking at a new build flat (or any flat really), I'd look for a maximum three storey building with no lift, preferably not as part of a larger estate but standing alone (so there's no estate costs).

SwearyGodmother Fri 30-Dec-16 11:56:14

LBOCS2 that hasn't been our experience here with the management costs and as I say we've been here for the 15 years since the flat was built. Our management committee do a bloody good job and the reason our service charge has been reduced is because they'd built up such a reserve that it was sensible to return monies to shareholders. we decided that it was sensible to do this over a number of years, running down the reserves to sensible levels, rather than a cash sum to owners as it meant any extraordinary expenses can be paid for without worry. Most of the committee have been here since the start too and have everything down to a fine art. We all muck in to help how we can (being in for engineers, not doing diy) and it's a nice aspect of community without being in your face.

hollinhurst84 Fri 30-Dec-16 12:10:07

Mine is 8 years old now but I never hear my upstairs neighbours. It's a small block of 4, and I'm downstairs. I don't even hear the washing machine or TV

ButteredToastAndStrawberryJam Fri 30-Dec-16 12:21:04

My major problem with flats is the service charge and ground rent, some of them are like another Council Tax +++. I'd try and go for a maisonette as a better option or a small house.

Minta85 Fri 30-Dec-16 13:21:18

I live in a first floor flat, in a block that's about 9 years old now. The internal noise is horrible - I hear my upstairs neighbours walking around, and hear the neighbours on all sides and downstairs shutting doors, tv, talking. I even hear them peeing and flushing the toilet, which is disgusting. I gather that there are sound proofing regulations that have come in during the last decade or so, but think the builders who built this place ignored them! If living in a flat, I would always insist on being on the top floor, so that at least you won't have people walking around above you (or their children running and jumping for hours on end...).

I would give anything to live in a detached house, but prices here are very expensive and there's a supply shortage.

LBOCS2 Fri 30-Dec-16 14:23:46

Sorry Sweary, that looked like I was talking about self-managing for the whole post - I wasn't, my comments about self management finished at the second paragraph! It's good that your committee are doing a good job and you're pleased with them.

I was mentioning the increase in service charges as it does happen in the industry because in order to get the business from developers, some managing agents write unrealistic budgets as that's what the developers want in order to sell the properties. The properties are then sold with an agent appointed and the budget in place. With a phased handover the developer is paying for a significant proportion of costs for the first couple of years, and snagging issues, then they pack up and get off site. You have a year running the old budget and then find, when the accounts are done, that you're massively over budget and there's a deficit to collect... and that's without factoring in any reserves for the cyclical works which will be becoming due in the next few years. It's not fair on the residents and it is worth looking out for.

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