Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Points to Watch for in New Built Homes; New Houses Are Generally Better Built Than Years Ago, but There Can Be Issues, Says Peter Fall

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Points to Watch for in New Built Homes; New Houses Are Generally Better Built Than Years Ago, but There Can Be Issues, Says Peter Fall

Article excerpt

Byline: with Peter Fall

IT'S not often that I'm asked to look at a newly-built home and few that are two to 10 years old. My domain tends to be 40 years plus or new extensions.

On the other hand, colleagues who do valuations for mortgages are frequently in houses less than 10 years old and regale me with tales of how the quality of new build seems to be far better than the old houses. I can part agree. Modern Building Regulations are far more stringent than they were 50 years ago and the Building Byelaws of 75 years ago were no better than a basic construction text book.

But this doesn't mean we don't get problems with new houses and many owners are quick to tell me of disasters they found when moving into their brand new home. There is a recent tale of a defect in newbuild homes, spotted by the valuers and maybe missed by the owner and certainly the builder. That is the problem of initial movement over the first couple of years in timber-framed houses.

We are all accustomed to thin, drying-out cracks that open up with a new home. The NHBC and Zurich are keen to warn you to use central heating sparingly and ventilate the house to get rid of excess moisture. They even forewarn that the house will be subject to initial settlement that might generate the odd crack or two. But our valuers' defect has nothing to do with this.

Timber-framed houses, once the pariah of the new housing market, have moved from the acceptable to the preferred choice of new house builders. The benefits are many - cost, speed of erection, quality of build and increased thermal efficiency. They have one problem which should be allowed for by the builder but sometimes isn't. During its early life, the timber dries out and shrinks. This is fortunately across the grain of the wood rather than down its length but can cause a reduction up to 3% across the timber. …

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