New build disputes

The rise in new build defects and disputes

New build disputes are becoming increasingly common. Buyers naturally feel aggrieved when builders fail to deliver on their promises. Buying a new build property should be an exciting moment in your life, but for many it has turned into a nightmare of frustration, disappointment and worry.

It seems that once a builder has taken your money the company loses interest. Concerns about defects and snags go ignored as the builder concentrates on its next development, leaving buyers without adequate redress.

Many people suffer in silence. Others attempt to make sense of the confusing landscape of consumer codes and warranties, but remain unable to force the builder to address their concerns.

The problem of new build defects and disputes has been recognised by Parliament, with a special independent ombudsman service having been set up to deal with it.

This follows high profile publicity about the quality of homes being built by major developers such as Bovis. And in a recent survey of new home buyers an astonishing 98% reported experiencing defects or snags.

Can frustrated new build buyers take legal action?

Legal claims tend to focus on recovering financial compensation. However, in our experience most people involved in a new build dispute are not looking for compensation; they simply want the defects to be put right by the developer.

Even in cases where a financial remedy is being pursued, the value of the claim needs to be carefully considered. If the financial value of the case is less than £10,000, then even if the case is won, there is no entitlement to recover legal costs. This is because disputes with a value of under £10,000 are referred to the so called ‘small claims court’ which does not allow legal costs to be recovered.

If you would like us to assist in dealing with a new build dispute, then a popular funding arrangement is to set a fee limit of £750 plus VAT to cover some initial work. You have the option of setting a fresh limit once that initial limit has been exhausted. When that point has been reached we will also be happy to consider whether the case is suitable for No Win, No Fee funding. However, please note that we are unable to offer No Win, No Fee funding where the value of the claim is under £25,000.

By limiting the fee you remain in control of your budget and can direct our efforts to the issues that are of particular importance to you. For instance we can write to the builder/developer/NHBC, or put forward any settlement proposals you would like to make.

If you would like us to deal with your new build dispute on a limited fee basis then call 0333 888 0404 or email us at [email protected].

Picture of Zoe Harker-Smith

Zoe Harker-Smith

Picture of Zoe Harker-Smith

Zoe Harker-Smith

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Call the Slee Blackwell helpline on 0333 888 0404