story homes new build tips

Ever wondered what happens when you move into a new build property?

It’s now a week since we bought our new build home from Story Homes. I wanted to capture some of the things that have happened and share tips if you’re moving into a new build home soon.

Friday: Completion Day!

Because we sold our house last month, we are only doing one transaction today, so completion is ridiculously fast. Story Homes says we can’t have the keys until we are officially completed, but that’s all done and dusted by 11am. It takes an hour for word to filter through to the site manager, so we get the keys at lunchtime.

I feel definitely excited. Although leaving our last house was emotional, I feel 100 percent ready for our new home now.

The Story Homes site manager hands over the keys and keeps a spare for them to use when snagging. I try to get another key cut, but because it’s a new build, the lock is also brand new. The locksmith doesn’t yet stock the key. Sigh.

As with many new build houses, there’s fibre to our new property. There’s a snazzy modem in the house, and Openreach arrives to activate it a few minutes after we get the keys. As soon as the box is active, I can call BT to order the fibre, and it will be turned on remotely. When I tried to do this earlier, I couldn’t place the order because the address didn’t exist in BT’s database. Luckily BT has now added the address to its system, so I can place an order right away. It should be activated on Friday.

The builder takes meter readings and leaves me details of the current providers. This is so I can ensure the first bill I receive doesn’t leave me paying for any electricity before I owned the house. 

Story homes new build tips

First impressions: the house feels MASSIVE. And also really, really warm. Having had 20 years of Victorian houses, this is so lovely. There’s a bow on the front door, and the builders have left us flowers, and a teddy bear. Flea decides to call him Bill the Builder Build-a-Bear.

I do an initial check of the house with the site manager and spot a few bashes and scratches on the shower door. I’m very aware, though, that I could be missing MASSIVE things because I’m just so dazzled by the whole house.

We aren’t moving in yet because we opted not to have Story Homes install flooring. I’ve heard that the flooring put in by builders isn’t always of the best quality, and so I looked for something locally.

The downside is that it means we can’t have carpets done until after we complete. Still, I think this is definitely worth doing – we saved over £4,000, which makes a weekend at Mum’s seem more than worth it.

Saturday: Curtains, Curtains, Curtains

We’re off to Ikea to buy some cheap curtains to put up until we decide what we really want. It’s a strange feeling to own a house we don’t live in (yet).

In the process (obviously) Flea wants everything in the store. We manage to get the curtains, and we order a new desk and small wardrobe for Flea’s room. The furniture will be delivered on Wednesday.

We put the other purchases in the garage. While I’m at the house I spot a scratch on one of the kitchen units, so I email the builder. I get a call back within an hour, saying they’ll go and have a look. It turns out it was a splash of paint. Oops.

Sunday: A Flooring Snafu

Today the flooring guy is arriving to prepare the kitchen floor. We’re going for Karndean, and the floor will need to be screeded before it is laid.

karndean flooring calcium sulphate issue

Unfortunately the fitter says the floor is calcium sulphate – not concrete. Apparently, it’s a very popular choice for new homes because it’s fast, and smooth. But it holds moisture for a long time, and he wouldn’t recommend laying a screed on this sort of floor for four to six months. Oops.

We are lucky the fitter works for Karndean, and knows his stuff. He tells me they’re currently looking for test sites for a new product that works on my type of floor. A quick call to his boss, and it’s all sorted. They’ll come back on Wednesday with the new underlay and I’ll be the first customer to have it in the UK. I’m just happy I’ll have a kitchen floor!

Monday: Prep for Carpets

The carpet fitters arrive, to start putting down grippers and underlay. Most of the carpets will go down tomorrow, but we’ve been advised to wait and only put down the stairs and landing carpet once we’ve moved in. It avoids lots of trampling by men in boots. 

The Story Homes site manager calls to let me know they’ve replaced the shower screen. It’s nice to feel like they’re checking in and fixing stuff quickly.

Tuesday: Surveys and Carpets

An early start today –  the carpet fitter arrives at the house before 9am.

At 10am our surveyor arrives. We booked a snagging survey through a company called New Build Inspections. It was quite expensive (just under £500) but considering the cost of the house, it feels worthwhile.

Story Homes has been pretty responsive when we’ve spotted small problems, but I also felt there was quite a bit of pressure to find and report any faults within seven days. As a non-expert, I’m sure there are issues that I might not spot for weeks or months. I decided getting an expert in was important and I wanted to it before we moved in furniture and carpet that might cover up issues, or leave us open to suggestions that we caused damage.

The carpets have been laid now in the bedrooms and lounge. We’ve gone for quite a sturdy wool blend carpet. The guy in the carpet shop thought I was mad looking for a match to coffee. But that’s the thing that gets spilled on my floors more than anything else!

I have a brief panic that they’re too dark and I’ve accidentally bought poo-coloured brown carpets for the house. I FaceTime my Mum and make her look at the carpets and we discuss them in ridiculous detail.

Wednesday: Moving Day! 

It turns out that moving into a new build is like a game of chess.

I need flooring to be down before furniture can be moved in. But not the hallway flooring, which won’t go down until the removal men have left.

I arrive at the house just after 7am. Ikea arrives just after 7.30am, with Flea’s new wardrobe and desk.

Before anyone else arrives, I take the opportunity to vacuum all the carpets before the furniture comes in. Luckily, in daylight, they look warm and coffee-coloured, and less reminiscent of human waste than I feared.

The Karndean fitters arrive just after 8am. The removals men arrive just before 9am.

The rest of the day is a blur of people coming and going and realising that I can’t remember which room that rug used to be in, or what might be in that trunk. I can’t even identify which TV goes in which room. My stuff has been in storage for almost two months and there’s a lot of it.

removals new build

All the kitchen and dining room boxes are stacked in the garage for now. Oh my god, there are millions of them.

The removal guys are done by 3pm and so the flooring guys can start working on the hallway. They reckon they’ll be finished around 6pm, so my parents drive over and take us out for an early dinner. 

We head back to the house at 6pm to find the flooring is finished, and the electrician is here putting up our light fittings.

As it was a new build Story Homes left us with bare bulbs, so I’m glad I brought the fittings from the old house.

By 7pm, the house is quiet. We unwrap the plastic from the sofa, plug in the TV and settle down to watch a DVD (we need to wait a few days before Sky can come an install a dish for us).

Moving house is weirdly exhausting considering I didn’t even really do any of the work!

Thursday: The Day Of Boxes 

It’s boxes as far as the eye can see.

I stare for a while but eventually decide to pick just one room, and go from there. I choose the kitchen.

My first job is to turn over the dining table. I try to use the leg as leverage to pull on. The table is surprisingly heavy. The leg I’m using to lever the table over shears in two.

broken dining table leg

Oops.

I stare at my broken table for a while. I make a coffee.

I decide the table is a problem for future Sally, and get on with unboxing.

I use Post-It notes to label the cupboard doors and play around with them a bit, trying to get the best layout. God, I’m so organised and efficient. This efficiency lasts until about 2pm when I give up and adopt a “shove it in a cupboard and worry about it later” mentality.

The kitchen sofa arrives and I like it. Phew. It’s always a worry when you buy online.

I find the slow cooker, so I pop some soy and garlic chicken on. Flea gets home and says, “Wow, you cooked! Almost like a proper Mum,” and I feel a bit smug.

Then I remember that our spare bedroom looks like this, and I feel less smug.

moving boxes

In other news after an hour of hunting amidst this chaos, we find the box marked TOWELS. We both have a shower and we’re so excited to have our own bathrooms, it’s a little bit sad.

Friday: New Build Inspections 

Our second morning in the new house and it feels like I can almost see it coming together.

The carpet fitter arrives at 9am, and starts work on the stairs and landing. It will be nice not to have to be careful walking up and down the stairs, trying to avoid the little gripper strips!

new build landing skylight

A little later we have our “7 day courtesy visit” from Story Homes. It’s a chance to discuss any initial snagging issues. I tell him it’s a bit tricky given we’ve only been here for 36 hours, but there are a few issues I’ve spotted. The biggest ones are things like a scratch in the glass of the kitchen door, some marks on the hob, and a chip in one of the bathroom cabinets. Also the bannister moves a little and the stairs squeak.

I send my joiner a pleading text and he arrives to look at my broken dining table. He takes the leg away, telling me he’ll fix it over the weekend. I concentrate very hard on not hugging him, I’m so relieved.

I realise a bedside table has gone missing in the move. I call the removals guy who tells me it’s impossible that they would lose a piece of furniture. I invite him to come over and use his skills to find the invisible bedside table that’s currently in my house, in that case.

Later that evening we get the report from the surveyor, and it’s got over 150 snags listed for the house. At first I’m a bit shocked. What have I bought? But I’m mostly relieved because there are tons of tiny things that I would have spotted EVENTUALLY but who knows when? I suppose it’s to be expected in a new build. If you want to know more about what to look for when you’re snagging a new build home, check this post.

The vast majority of the snags are cosmetic, pointing out bits of painting, mortar and sealant that need to be improved. The house was finished just at the end of the building company’s financial year, and I feel like the decor was probably a bit rushed. Along with the scrapes and scratches, there are a dozen or so snags around things like broken tiles, damage to window sills and a door that doesn’t seem to be fitted quite square.

The surveyor sends the report direct to Story Homes, and the site manager pops round to go through the list with me. We agree that I don’t mind too much about the issues with painting because it was all get redone when we decorate. But he agrees to remedy all the other items on the list. Once all the jobs have been done, the surveyor and the site manager both says they will come out and check it’s all satisfactory.

The day ends with some good news. The display on our fibre turns green meaning we have phone and Internet service – hurrah!

 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.