Who on Earth in Their Right Minds Would Buy a New Build?!
This is what I asked myself years ago, when entering into the oh-so-daunting overwhelming experience of house hunting for the first time in my life, after the ‘post-university London flat-share/Parisian appartment wonder years’ had come to an end and it was time to grow up [sniff]. Totally the opposite of the new builds I viewed – all of which were shiny and modern but ultimately no bigger than a shoe box – my first ever property was a one bedroom flat in a 1960’s purpose-built characterless block, complete with monstrous time warp mustard-coloured velvet wallpaper and lurid purple spiral carpeting which still makes me shudder thinking about it almost 20 years later.
Despite requiring a leap of faith and a whole heap of imagination to turn it into something you could actually live in without wanting to vomit, it was nevertheless the best decision at the time in terms of cost/size etc. To this day, I’m still rather proud of how I rolled up my sleeves for four long months and got on with the enormous task of gutting, renovating and decorating the place whilst also settling into a new job; I became a dab hand at using enormous power tools, became strangely attached to my Black and Decker drill, spent more money at Homebase, Ikea, Habitat etc during one year than I think I’ve spent on fashion or makeup in a whole lifetime and got the place looking pretty decent. All in all, the whole experience went smoothly.
Then ten years, a wedding, a new baby, two rentals and one country move later, it was time to buy again.
This time we abandoned the old property idea and ‘wisely’ bought a new build…and the entire process from negotiation to purchase to finishing the property could not have been a bigger nightmare (or better example of homeowner disasters you really don’t want happening to you)! I have since learned that some of the stress was in fact avoidable had we known that there are in fact home warranty insurance policies available that can help guard against or retrospectively resolve the majority of the homeowner disasters that we experienced.
Although the nightmares are now behind us and construction insurance could not have prevented the following:
- losing money on the UK sale (which was funding our Malta property purchase) as the estate agent neglected to disclose our purchaser was his brother and undervalued our flat .
- being stitched up on the Malta side with something similar, with the agent selling us his brother’s property and arranging the transaction so that his brother’s tax exposure was thousands lower than ours.
- our then two year old son ended up in hospital with an asthma attack, not that this was anyone’s fault but frankly I’m just recounting all the stress!
I do know that a self-build policy would have prevented the following eight homeowner disasters from happening:
- absence of tiling in our outside alcoves due to the builders claiming that it wasn’t part of the developer’s agreement, by which time we could do nothing as this was after completion
- lounge doors not being fitted with locks, resulting in us being burgled six days after moving in and just hours after a solid wood front door was installed (and if you’ve read this post you’ll be utterly amazed we’ve not been burgled again since)!
- discovering that two terraces – the biggest selling point as we were told master bedrooms could be constructed on them – were not only absent from the plans (how didn’t the mortgage lender’s surveyor spot this?) but had in fact been built illegally and were therefore never ours to use at all, never mind further develop!
- inadequate drainage being installed on one of the terraces, thereby forcing our neighbours to install an enormous pump to drain both ours and their own sewage
- water constantly leaking into the communal garages thanks to the faulty drainage pipes of the building which backs onto our own
- drainage pipes leading from our property being left to hang in mid air, instead of being connected to the main drainage pipes resulting in more flooding in the garages
- two interior walls that we had specially built not even being featured on the new plans that were filed after construction finished.
- damp problems due to incorrect installation of membrane sheets
In the worst case scenario, had these issues not been picked up beforehand, at least a latent defects policy such as the one offered by CRL would have helped us.
In short, ripped off by estate agents, developers, builders, workmen, land registry – and let’s just throw in Tom, Dick, Harry and their cousins for good measure – the whole affair was an absolute catalogue of nightmares, one that could have been avoided.
So if you’re ever building a property, make sure you avoid these homeowner disasters happening to you by considering construction insurance. I wish we had!
Have YOU Have any tales of Homeowner Disasters of Your Own? I’d Love to Know!
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