Aftercare in your new-build home

Your new home may have a few issues, minor or major, and this guide should help you decide which need attention, and which might not.

New homes are known for needing time to ‘breathe’ or ‘settle’, and things like hairline cracks are common, but more serious faults with the build or quality of your home are referred to as defects.

What can you do to help your home ‘settle’?

Some of the minor issues that occur in your home will be down to the fact that your house is still drying out. There is moisture in the walls and materials of all new build homes, and that gradually needs to dry out. Make sure you keep your house well ventilated and consistently heated to help it along this process. As it dries out, parts of the house, will ‘settle,’ for example, you might see cracks around architrave or doors and windows might become harder to open. Don’t worry, this is normal.

What is a defect?

A defect is a more serious issue that is a result of the way your home has been built. It could be down to the materials, design or workmanship of the developer. It is not accidental damage, a general repair or to do with the way the property has been maintained.

Defects may include:

  • Leaking roofs
  • Leaks from pipes and plumbing installed at the time of build
  • Doors not closing or locking properly (not caused by carpet installation)
  • Major cracks in walls/ceilings

Issues NOT defined as defects:

  • General wear and tear or issues caused by neglect
  • Garden maintenance
  • Minor decorative issues – scratches to glass, hairline cracks thinner than a £1 coin (these are considered common as part of the ‘shrinkage’ with new build homes)

What has been done up to this point?

To make sure our homes are of a high standard they have been inspected and signed off by different people at different stages of the build process. However, homes are built by humans so we are not always able to prevent all defects from arising. When the houses are handed over from the developer to Sovereign, they are also thoroughly checked by one of our technical advisors. Any issues we find with the quality, fit and finish of the home will be detailed at this point, and a ‘snag list’ will be created; basically a list of things we’ve identified, that the developer has agreed to resolve. At this point we can prove the house builder is liable for these issues (and for fixing them), as they’re the only people that have been in the home.

The 12-month defect period

Your home has a 12-month defect liability period. This starts from the date that the property has been handed over from the developer to Sovereign. You can report anything you suspect to be a defect during this period and all genuine defects will be rectified by the developer.

At the end of the 12-month defect liability period we will be in contact with you to ask you to let us know of any defects that still haven't been resolved. You will be contacted by Sovereign or one of our agents acting on our behalf who will ask you to put together a list of issues. We might also ask you for photos. The developer will contact you to arrange to carry out the work. This will usually be within three months of the inspection.

Before reporting a defect

  • Check the user manual guides provided in your handover pack. Follow instructions provided to see if you can easily and safely fix the issue yourself
  • Check that any gas or electrical issues are not due to local works being carried out in the area
  • Be sure that the issue was a result of poor workmanship or poor quality of materials
  • If you are able to, take a photo of the issue and send it to the contact centre
  • Check our FAQ’s and what you can expect in a new build house

Once you have reported a defect

Our aftercare team might need to ask you for more information about how it has occurred as part of reviewing the defect. We might ask you for pictures or videos which show the issue; this helps to determine the urgency of the problem and who would be required to attend.

The aftercare team will send the issue over to the developer. It is then over to them to contact you to arrange a suitable appointment.

We are dependent upon the developer completing the work within the agreed amount of time. We chase the developers every week about defects that are still outstanding. Where the developer has not completed the works within the agreed amount of time, we may consider arranging for another contractor to carry out the works without any cost to you.