Huw Worthington of Worthingtons Solicitors looks at the protection available to someone who discovers problems with their newly purchased home
In terms of consumer protection there is a complete difference between buying a brand new property and buying a resale property.
If you purchase a brand new property you should re-inspect the property prior to completion. A snagging list should then be prepared and given to the Builder before you move in. Often Builders have a “defects” period of up to six months whereby they will standover any minor remedial works which have to be attended to. A common example would be settlement cracks in paintwork which often appear after completion.
Should you have any major problems of a structural nature then you could have remedies with NHBC (National House-Building Council) or an insurance backed warranty policy.
Should a problem be of a very serious nature then litigation could be successful either under contract or under the Defective Premises Legislation.
Other remedies with a new build could potentially be against the Architect for a defective design or the Local Council who issued the Building Control Final Completion Certificate.
In relation to a resale property the golden rule is “caveat emptor” or let the buyer beware. As a purchaser you are deemed to have inspected and tested all electrics and plumbing and therefore special attention should be paid to the Survey Report and any specialist reports obtained and quotations for work received prior to committing to purchase.
Any pre-existing conditions must be revealed by the Vendor in Pre-Contract Enquiries and any non-disclosure is very serious and could result in damages having to be paid or if exceptionally serious you can rescind the and get out of buying the house.
Huw Worthington, is a founding Partner of Worthingtons Solicitors Northern Ireland and is head of the private client department. Huw specialises in Residential property and Estate Planning Solutions, Wills and Probate.