Overview: Buyers must double-check the details when buying a home off-plan

The idea of signing on the dotted line for a home that is nothing more than a drawing now holds few fears for buyers.

The idea of signing on the dotted line for a home that is nothing more than a drawing now holds few fears for buyers. Over the past few years, the property any buyer eventually moved into would, with few exceptions, have increased in value. But the fact that selling from plan is now commonplace up and down the country does not mean that buyers should lower their guards.

Only last week, developers Persimmon pleaded guilty to four counts of misdescribing flats at their Icon development on the Isle of Dogs. A couple who had bought a £290,000 flat found that, on measuring the end result, the floor space was 10 per cent smaller than they had paid for. Other residents also found themselves short-changed - by as much as the size of a double bedroom.

The issue was clear here, but there are those grey areas where buyers feel badly done by but have no precise measurements on which to base their complaint. It was only a few months ago that Persimmon received another dose of bad publicity when a couple complained bitterly that their car barely scraped into their new garage.

What this goes to show is that it pays never to take on trust what should be in writing and that final checks on a thing as basic as room sizes should be done as a matter of course. Many agents who work in the area of new developments will suggest a purchaser employs their own surveyor, even if it appears to contradict the purpose of buying new.

It is not helped that at the launch of some schemes normally sensible people find themselves caught up in a buying fever. Teams of solicitors and financial advisers make it easy to exchange there and then.

Linda Beaney, of London estate agents Beaney Pearce, has long held concerns about how ill-prepared some buyers are. Her firm produces a guide on the advantages and disadvantages of buying from plan and how best to proceed.

Appointing a surveyor and a solicitor familiar with the process are crucial. "I have seen specifications so vague they are not worth the paper they are printed on," she says. "A detailed specification annexed to the contract for purchase would cover everything from the height of skirting boards to the kitchen appliances. But it might take a brave person to insist on it because they stand a chance of losing the property."

Nor is it just a matter of checking whether the doors are the same as those in the artist's impression (an omission for which Berkeley Homes was fined last year). They must also ensure that the overall quality of the finished home meets the original specifications. If a surveyor decides a property fails to come up to the standards, a sum of money can be retained until the work is completed.

There are other clues as to how much credence can be given to a brochure. A development that is advertised as being within a short walk of a place that cannot be reached in less than half an hour might reasonably come under suspicion.

Not all purchasers will get out the tape measure before taking possession of their home, however. Among the large numbers of buy-to-let investors, some of them buying in bulk, there will be those who have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to checking on every detail.

It will be a shock to know that it is possible to get 10 per cent less than you paid for.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Teaching Assistant in secondary school Manchester

£11280 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Teaching a...

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits