Seven tips for buying in a new homes scheme

Do your homework and fully understand what you are buying before handing over a deposit

If the plans don’t include room sizes ask for them

If the plans don’t include room sizes ask for them


It’s the season for new homes launches, and while it’s exciting for would-be buyers, these launches bring with them a lot of hype and pressure to move quickly. It’s important to keep a cool head and not get caught up in the rush to put a deposit down. It’s important to do your homework and fully understand what you are buying before handing over a deposit.

1. Bear in mind that the showhouse is usually the house in the best location within the scheme. When selecting your house look at the orientation, proximity to the other houses and whether there will be any development planned around you. Often when a new development launches only one phase of the overall development will have been completed. So it’s important to ask what the entire estate will be like once it’s finished.

2. Could you extend the house in the future? If you plan to stay long-term it’s important to be able to expand to meet your lifestyle needs as they possibly expand. Sometimes in new estates there are planning restrictions due to open space requirements that were part of the condition of the original planning application for the development. The size of your back garden is also a factor to consider. You can extend up to 40sq m to the rear of your home at ground floor without planning permission. However, you will need to leave 25sq m of garden otherwise you will need to go for planning permission.  

Explore whether the attic can be converted. In smaller homes with small gardens this may be the only way to gain additional space. Some developments will have constructed the houses so future conversion of the attic space is easy to do. The addition of a bedroom and bathroom can increase the value of your home by as much as 15 per cent, so it’s worth exploring its feasibility.

3. Be clear on what’s included in the price of the house and what’s not. Not all new homes come with flooring in the hallway for example. It’s important to know what additional items you will need to purchase to make your home liveable.

4. There may be plenty of open space at the launch but those green areas might have planning for more houses or apartments. When you select your own house make sure you understand what the neighbouring houses are like and how they will affect your home. Will the house next door block your view? In some developments you can have houses of varying heights next door to each other. Find out how close your neighbour’s home will be to yours and try to understand what you will be looking onto from each of the main living spaces.

5. Not everyone finds it easy to understand floor plans. If the plans don’t include room sizes ask for them. To help you get a good idea of the size of each of the rooms take a measuring tape to your current home and compare the dimensions. Another good idea is to ask to visit a home with the floor plan you want, even if it’s not the showhouse the developer may have a walk-through house available for you to view.

6. Does the house have adequate storage and utility space. Space to store coats, baby buggies and somewhere to hang laundry are all vital components of a well designed home. What s the wardrobe space like? If there isn’t sufficient storage as standard, can the house be easily adapted to accommodate your needs? Without these practicalities your brand new home will simply not function well.

7. If there are upgrades or changes that you would like to make to the floor plans and specifications of the house, don’t be afraid to ask. Depending on the stage of construction these can sometimes be very easily added for only a small additional cost. Things like adding in wall lights or upgrading your kitchen specification are all reasonable requests.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant, @OptimiseDesign