I bought my dream new build home for an easy life – but it was a nightmare
WHEN Jane Morton Driscoll and her husband Simon bought their first family home together in 2019, they couldn’t have been more excited to move in and make it their own.
Pregnant with their now three-year-old son, the couple thought a purchasing a new build property would be the best option, to provide an easy life and the perfect blank canvas to create their dream home.
However, they claim it turned out to be anything but, and the pair were soon blighted with problems even before they moved in.
Jane says severe delays, shoddy building work, flooding and poor customer service left her feeling like she’d been “gaslighted.”
Calligrapher Jane, 38, says: “I was pregnant at the time so we thought buying a new build would be hassle-free, but to be honest it quickly became a nightmare.
“My entire maternity leave that I should have been spending enjoying time with my son was spent trying to sort out problems with the house, and when I tried to resolve the issues I felt like I was being gaslighted.
“Thankfully time has been a healer but there are still unresolved issues nearly four years on that I’ve ended up just giving up on trying to sort out.”
A blank canvas
Previously, Jane had owned a three-bed semi-detached Victorian property in Nottinghamshire, which she sold so she could buy with her husband.
She says: “For a while I rented it out and moved to London, which is where I met my husband.
“We then rented together in Oxfordshire for three years to see if we liked the area, before I sold my house so we could buy together.
“It was our first home as a family, and a blank canvas for us to really make our own.
“Having owned an older house previously, we thought one of the benefits of buying a new house would be everything we wanted would have already been done before we moved in, and be brand new.”
Problems from the start
Initially, it all seemed straightforward – but Jane claims issues began to emerge as soon as they’d paid the deposit.
Jane says: “We looked round the showroom of the three-bed detached model we could afford, and it looked amazing.
“Our house wasn’t yet built so we had to buy off-plan, but thought this would be good as we were then able to request personalised finishing touches that we wanted.
“We went through it all and I was so excited – however it later emerged a lot of them hadn’t been noted down and passed on to the builders.
“We requested wardrobes to be installed for example, but the builders were seemingly unaware, so things like plugs were fitted in the wrong place and it was just never rectified.
“We’d also requested quartz worktops, and different lights, alarms and a tap in the back garden, as it would be easier to put it in while the house was being built.
“These were done but only because I’d chased them up on them.”
‘We regretted buying it’
The couple also say they had a set back with the move in date, as construction was delayed, and when they did move in they were disappointed with the finish of the building work.
Jane says: “We were supposed to move in when I was five months pregnant, but actually weren’t able to until he was 10 weeks old, so there was a six month delay.
“When we saw our house for the first time, they’d planted bushes out the front by the path, but as it was summer they’d been left to die before we even moved in.
“The tiling was awful too. For example, the tiles had been put in the wrong way round, and poorly cut.
“I felt really let down. This was our home, and we’d spent so much money on our dream property, and they hadn’t bothered to build it properly.
“We didn’t get a ‘professional snagger’ – a company used to identify defects – which I regret.
“I didn’t get a copy of the one month inspection and I didn’t sign it, and the inspector didn’t write down all my concerns.
“You’re allowed up to two years to raise issues so I kept making lists and I think I must have reported around 50 or 60 problems, but a lot of them they refused to deal with or they were done in an ad hoc manner.
“It was so upsetting, and it felt like no one seemed to care – we really regretted at one point even buying it.”
‘The issues were never ending’
Jane also felt like her whole maternity leave was blighted by building issues.
She says: “I was a new mum and my maternity leave was consumed with having to make calls and try and sort out one issue after another, and having to be in the house for things to constantly be fixed.
“It was never ending issues and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.
“Our garage was flooding because there was an issue with how the flooring had been installed for example.
“The whole estate was blighted with flooding issues, and there was flooding along the path outside our home from down the road, which we were blamed for.
“The garden was big for a new build, but we ended up having it landscaped ourselves later down the line.
“I’m glad we did because it’s meant we don’t have the flooding issues in the back garden other people have had because there’s no top soil – but it came at a financial cost.”
‘We’ve still made it our home’
Thankfully, the couple have been able to move on, and are now finally happy in their home – but it just hasn’t been the walk in the park they were expecting.
Jane adds: “Of course, we’ve made it nice, and I was so proud of the nursery for example, which is Harry Potter themed.
“I created a mural on the wall, so we’ve still thankfully been able to add our stamp to our home.
“You have to move on from it, but we’ve had to completely redecorate to make it into a happier place as I didn’t want to be reminded of when we first moved in.”
‘I just assumed there wouldn’t be any issues’
Now, Jane is sharing her story not to put people off buying new builds, but to make them fully aware of any potential issues beforehand.
She says: “I had trusted ‘new’ would automatically mean ‘nice’ and just assumed there wouldn’t be any issues or anything to hide, but I was wrong.
“I now know there are Facebook groups full of people who’ve gone through similar experiences.
“I just want other people to be careful when they go into it and have their eyes wide open so they know what to look for when it comes to issues, so they’re better equipped to deal with them than we were. ”
The building firm responsible have been contacted for comment.