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
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
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

QA/BA - Agile

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per annum: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prim...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

KS1 & KS2 Teacher

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: We are looking for infants and...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?