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Do this before you buy

1. Legal Expenses Insurance

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. If you buy a new home and find it suffers from serious defects, you are probably going to need some professional help getting things put right properly.  Legal expenses insurance can help with the cost.

Make sure you have legal expenses insurance in place on the day you complete the purchase of your new home.  You can get this as an add-on to some buildings & contents insurance policies (check the exclusions and small print to make sure it covers disputes against developers in relation to defects in your new home) or a standalone policy.  It must be in place from the date you complete the purchase.

Before claiming on your legal expenses insurance policy, make sure you login and read our guidance note on this (see Stage 4 guidance notes), so you are aware of potential risks and pitfalls and how to handle them to ensure you get the best legal representation you can.

2. Choose your own conveyancing solicitor

BEWARE if your housebuilder tries to make you use their nominated conveyancers:

  • Any advice they give will usually be pre-approved by the housebuilder and you may not have a clear understanding of key aspects of the transaction you are entering into.
  • They may refuse to advise you, or advise you wrongly, if you discover major defects before completion and want to delay completion or walk away from the transaction and get your deposit back.
  • They may not advise you on the meaning or effect of exclusion clauses and other important terms in the housebuilder's standard sale agreement, or help you negotiate better terms.
  • They may refuse to give you copies of plans and standard documents relating to the development that they will have received from the housebuilder, without which you may not be able to enforce some of the housebuilder's obligations to build in accordance with them.

Appoint your own independent conveyancer.  If they refuse or threaten to withdraw from the sale, ask yourself what are they trying to hide?

For a quote from one of our trusted independent conveyancing firms, please use the webform on this page.

3. Questions for your conveyancer

Below are some suggested questions and topics to discuss with your conveyancing solicitor that may improve your understanding of the transaction you are considering entering into:

  1. Are there any exclusion clauses in the plot sale contract? What do they exclude?
  2. Can any exclusions clauses be renegotiated in my favour, or removed?
  3. Is it possible to negotiate a 5% retention on completion as security against construction defects?
  4. Is it possible to negotiate a right of access to inspect/survey the property just before legal completion?
  5. If you are required to pay towards maintenance of common areas, are the arrangements for this adequate to ensure value and accountability of those appointed to carry this out?
  6. If the developer has given a service charge or maintenance charge estimate will this be honoured by any incoming managing agent appointed by the developer in due course?
  7. Has the housebuilder tried to contract out of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996? If so, is that legal?
  8. Does the plot sale contract contain an 'arbitration clause'?

Make sure you read and understand everything in your title deed before you exchange contracts.  If you are in any doubt about what you are signing up to, make sure you ask your conveyancer and make sure they explain it to you so you understand.

4. Get copies of technical drawings, approved plans and other documents from the sales office BEFORE you exchange contracts

It is vital you get copies of approved plans and drawings, the written specification, estate layouts and anything else shown to you by sales staff before you sign up to anything - you may not get another chance afterwards.  You will shortly enter into a plot sale contract with the developer that obliges them to build your new home in accordance with these documents.  If you don't have copies, you may not be able to enforce the housebuilder's obligation to build in accordance with them.

Most sales staff are trained to show you these documents but not let you have copies, precisely because the housebuilder knows it will limit your ability to insist on their compliance with them.

DON'T BE DETERRED.  You must get copies.


Use our independent conveyancers

For a no-obligation quote from one of our trusted conveyancing firms, please complete the fields below and click Submit:

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After submitting your details, you will be contacted directly by our conveyancers usually within 2 working days.