New-build homes: Six things to consider before you buy

Don't be distracted by the lovely showhome furniture!

What are the first things you think about when viewing a new home? The number of bedrooms? Curb appeal? The size of the kitchen? Of course, these are all important factors, but sometimes it pays to look beyond the obvious.

With the help of Liz Gibney, and architect from the Home Group, we've come up with a few more things you should be taking into account when you're looking to buy a new build.

1. The volume of the rooms

living room with sofaset with cushions and wooden shelves

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Most people consider space when looking at the size of their house. However, measurements in sales brochures are usually based on the floor area only. What about volume?

We all hear about the benefits of high ceilings in older houses providing an extra sense of light and space. And now house builders are beginning to take volume into account when planning new developments.

2. Layout

kitchen room with wooden flooring and dining table with chairs

(Image credit: David Giles)

You probably do consider layout when looking at a potential home – and we all know that too quirky a set-up can be off-putting. But it’s how we consider it that’s important, as Liz explains.

'It’s not just about how it looks,' she says. 'Consider how the space will actually be used. If you have young children, will you need to keep an eye on them while you’re cooking a meal? If so, open-plan spaces will work best for you. It’s much the same for those who enjoy throwing parties – open-plan spaces mean you won’t need to box people off into rooms. It’s much more sociable.

However, for people who work from home (or for those who simply just like the peace and quiet), smaller, closed off spaces or outhouses are great for creating quiet rooms or offices from which to work and relax.

3. Natural light

living room with wooden flooring and white walls

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

It’s not simply about having a room with large windows. It’s about how that light flows through the house. If you can open the front door and see through to the garden, you’re going to enjoy a really strong sense of space and light in your home.

It doesn’t have to flow all the way from the front to the back, however, if the light can transcend multiple rooms, you’ll definitely feel the difference.

4. How does the property blend with its surroundings?

This is especially important with new builds, as in recent years, some developments have been accused of not blending in well with the wider community. It's especially important in smaller town or village locations. 'You don’t want to be walking home from the local shop and feel as though you are entering a new village entirely,' says Liz.

Love an area for its character? Then look at the big picture and consider how the development sits within its surroundings. If it doesn't feel well integrated, it might not be the place for you.

5. Landscaping around the development

sloping roof house with white windows and exposed brick walls

(Image credit: Olly Gordon)

'Not only should we consider how we'll use our new home, but also how we'll use the outdoor space that sits around it,' says Liz. Have nearby areas been landscaped and are they well-lit for and open for when you’re walking your dog on a winter evening? Is the area immediately outside your house closed off and is it a safe place for children to play? And how private is your garden? Are there any windows directly overlooking it?

6. How future proof is it?

sloping roof house with grey windows and garden

(Image credit: Mark Taylor)

If you're planning to make this your forever home, you might want to consider what facilities are available nearby in case mobility becomes a problem. Is there a GP surgery close by? Are the transport links good?

There's a growing trend for new developments to make it possible to incorporate extra care and facilities as you need them. Having extra care on site means having access to care and support and often clinical staff as well. For example, at Fairview Court scheme in Cumbria (pictured above), people can buy or rent their own self-contained apartments. However, they will also have access to social spaces with regular events so that they won't feel isolated, as well as access support.

It might not be something that you need in the immediate future. But if you love the area and hope to stay, it’s worth considering the longer-term future.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.