National House Building Council offers its top tips for buying off-plan

Posted 19 March 2014

As the housing market gathers pace, many potential homeowners are faced with the prospect of securing their dream home by buying off plan, and here the National House Building Council (NHBC), the UK's leading warranty provider for new build homes, offers its top tips for buyers to consider when buying a house off plan.

Reserving a new property comes with a number of advantages such as minimal maintenance, lower utility bills through high levels of energy efficiency, freshly decorated rooms and the opportunity to personalise the home to your taste. However, buying a home that has not yet been built does require some additional considerations that you might not need for a home that's older and already in situ.

Think about the plot you want 

Buying off plan means that you can choose which end of the street you want to live on, and pick the plot with the garden size that suits you. You might also want to think about which way your chosen house and garden faces, as well as proximity to open spaces, and local amenities.

Check out the showhome 

If your particular development site doesn't have a show house of the type you're interested in, ask if there is another development close by that you can visit. It is often difficult to visualise a home's layout and room dimensions from floor plans alone, and visiting a show house will help you to understand how your furniture might fit.

Don't worry about the chain

Once you have reserved the property, it's yours. There is no threat of gazumping or the vendor changing their mind about moving. You will be at the end of the selling chain and can concentrate your efforts on packing up and moving out.

Buildmark cover 

If the house is registered with NHBC then it will be protected by NHBC's ten-year Buildmark warranty even before you move in. Look out for NHBC Pride in the Job flags or site boards, as an award-winning site manager is a very good indication that your new home will be built with quality workmanship in mind.

Don't rush to arrange a mortgage 

With historically low interest rates and demand for lending on an upward curve, mortgage advisers are often fully booked for weeks in advance. If you're buying off plan, there should be no immediate rush to get a mortgage offer, so you don't have to panic.

Consumer Code for Home Builders

The code gives protection and rights to purchasers of new homes. Ask to see a copy of the Code to make sure that you are protected during each stage of the buying process.


Reserving a house before construction is started usually comes with the opportunity to personalise and sometimes upgrade the kitchen appliances, flooring, worktops and tiles. These added extras can a huge difference to your new home.

Ask about construction dates 

You will not usually have a fixed date for completion and may find the house is finished earlier or later than expected. It's also worth finding out how long building work will continue across the whole site, especially if there are further phases of construction.


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