Why I wish I'd bought a new build apartment

"I recently moved into an older apartment, after owning a succession of new homes and, for the first time, truly appreciated all the benefits of new home ownership."

Written by

Sheila Frampton

A personal account by Sheila Frampton

I recently moved into an older apartment, after owning a succession of new homes and, for the first time, truly appreciated all the benefits of new home ownership.

There is no doubt that, from the buying process to moving and settling in, new homes win hands down for me.  Buying a second-hand apartment has proved so traumatic that if I move again, I will choose new. 

Sheila Frampton

The buying process

I first noticed the duplex penthouse apartment on Rightmove and made an appointment to view.  The agent who showed me the apartment had very little information on the property – so I didn’t have the full facts until after my offer when the solicitors were involved. 

The agents were very reluctant to accompany me on a subsequent viewing and only did so when I had made an offer and insisted on measuring up for furniture.

Compare this attitude to that of a sales advisor working on a new home development. The show homes are open for viewing and the helpful sales team is always happy to arrange appointments.  When you have a query, the sales team is able to answer it or find out the information and respond at the earliest opportunity.

The legal process

I used a solicitor recommended by the agent selling my property – what a disaster!  The whole process was extremely slow and I wasn’t provided with updates.  Whenever I sent a question by email, the response I received (in red capital letters) was along the lines of ‘Please do not expect a reply to your enquiry within seven days due to heavy workload.’   I had to email the head of the company and suggest (politely) that this was not a professional response.

When buying new homes, the sales team liaises with solicitors and provides regular updates which make the process less stressful.

Moving In

I arrived on moving day to find that the curtains covering the two huge windows had been taken out and thrown in a skip at the back of the development along with four of the five huge light shades – all of which I had asked to keep. 

The windows require huge curtains – 38.5 metres of material in total – and have cost over £2,000 to replace.   The one remaining lightshade was in place because the fitting was damaged and it took over two hours to get the lightshade down – and then there was the cost of the new (large) shades.

The apartment had to be thoroughly cleaned before use – and I discovered lots of junk in the large eaves spaces dating back not to the previous owners but the owners prior to that.    As I required the storage almost immediately, I had to roll up my sleeves and tackle it myself.  I complained to the agents, the solicitors and the previous owners (who lived abroad) no one was interested – or very helpful.

From the outset, I intended to carpet the apartment, replacing damaged laminate flooring...

What I hadn’t realised was that the carpet fitters would have to carry the large and very heavy carpet rolls up 15 flights of stairs because the owners of the building would not allow the use of lifts for any kind of furnishings. The removal men met the same problem and this involved an extra cost.  

Replacing the laminate floor with carpet involved employing a carpenter to trim the doors – which is a very messy business if you live in a penthouse.

Although the paperwork outlined what appliances were in the property, there was no indication that they were in good working order. 

  • The hob didn’t work properly
  • The washing machine was broken
  • The freezer was broken – and unusable.
  • There was no pole to open/close the high-level Velux windows
  • The flush on the wc in the downstairs cloakroom did not work properly

All the above had to be rectified at my expense and, 8 weeks after moving in, I am still awaiting some of the items.

I was given no information on the development at all – only one set of keys, a post box with 10 years of unopened mail in it and no fob or code for the carpark.  I had to elicit information from neighbours– some of whom were helpful and others less so.

If I had bought a new apartment, I would have been provided with all the information I needed.  New appliances would have come with guarantees, they would have been tested and the sales team would have organised a home demonstration for me.  Any problems would have been sorted out by the customer service department.  Instead, I have spent hours trying to sort everything out myself.

An exterior photo of the new build homes at Cotswold Gate
A mature couple speaking to an property company
A dining table surrounded by windows and curtains

Settling In

The provision of internet was a massive problem and has taken 8 weeks to rectify.  I wanted Sky Q and although was told it was possible, subsequently found out that was not the case.  I changed to Sky Glass – only to find that the connection point was at least 4 metres from my apartment in the space above the communal hallway and the engineer would have to return with crawl boards and then drill through my upstairs bathroom and into the hall below in order to fit the wiring. This wasn’t acceptable so I spent a further four weeks without internet, telephone or a decent television service waiting for an engineer to connect a more basic form of internet.

If I had moved into a brand-new apartment, these problems would not have occurred – it would have been much simpler to get BT to connect me to the internet service. 

And now?

I love my duplex apartment but the experience of moving in has been tarnished by the problems.  If there had been a suitable new development – and, particularly, a Beechcroft development in this area, I would have bought new – for so many reasons.

  • No problems with arranging second, third or fourth viewings.
  • Detailed information on the property prior to an offer being accepted
  • Recommended solicitors with full information on the development
  • A sales advisor to ‘chase’ information from the solicitors
  • No decoration required on moving in – no layers of dark paint to conceal.
  • A home that’s been thoroughly cleaned – no clearing out or cleaning up to do.
  • A home demonstration and advice on operating systems within the home.
  • Fitted flooring without the need for adjustments
  • Energy-efficient appliances (with guarantees) in good working order
  • Customer care to help with any adjustments needed after the move-in day

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