New-build properties are generally in high demand at the moment. We can see the appeal: buying a new-build from the builder means that everything in the house is brand new and generally finished to a good decorative standard. Most buyers will usually not need to decorate for a few years at least. Some builders also provide their buyers with a choice in selecting a kitchen and other fittings and finishes as part of the development process, making the property truly unique to you. One of the key benefits of a new-build is that most come with a warranty (see “defects” section below). The warranty period is usually for ten years, and gives you that peace of mind, which you do not get when buying a used property on the market should anything go wrong.

There are some key differences in the process for buying a new-build property when compared to buying a used property. As is often the case, it helps to understand these differences before you embark on your new-build journey. Our property team have summarised a couple of the key differences below:

The Contract (“Missives”)
A builder will usually have their own style of missives, which they will prefer to use to form the contract for the sale of the new-build. Rather than the buyer’s solicitor submitting a written offer, the builder’s solicitor will often issue an “offer to sell” the property, containing the builder’s standard terms. The buyer’s solicitor will discuss the terms with the buyer to make sure that the buyer understands their rights and obligations, and also the builder’s rights and obligations.

Before anyone can legally occupy a new-build property, the builder needs to provide a Completion Certificate from the council. This document confirms that following an inspection of the property, it has passed the standards set by the council and in terms of the approved building warrant and plans. This is something to bear in mind when purchasing a new-build property. A builder will often provide an “estimated completion date”, which will give you a rough idea of when the build may complete, but this is generally dependent on supply of materials, weather conditions for work, and timescales for other contractors and individuals (such as the inspection by the building control officer). Booking removal services far in advance is therefore not advised as there is no guarantee that the property will be complete.

Defects in the property
Once you have the keys to your new-build, it is important that you check the property for any defects. Minor issues are usually referred to as “snagging” issues. Some builders will have a representative meet with you at the property on completion to undertake an inspection for any defects. There will be a set timescale for intimating any defects. Timescales are usually very short, ranging from several days to one week depending on the terms agreed with the builder. It is therefore important that you intimate any defects in writing just as soon as possible. The benefit of buying a new-build property is that it is usually covered by a warranty (typically for 10 years). The warranty is typically issued by the National House Building Council “NHBC” or by an insurance company. The builder will therefore rectify any defects and it will be covered under the guarantee or insurance.

Property Lawyers Edinburgh, Wick and Aberdeen, Scotland

If you are considering buying a new-build property, the property team at BBM Solicitors in Wick and Edinburgh have the expertise to make the conveyancing process as stress-free as possible for you. Our experienced solicitors are able to guide you through the process and would be delighted to speak with you. Please contact Jennifer Simpson ( or Rona Plowman (rdp@bbmsolicitors) by email or call 01955 604188.