So…you’ve trawled the developer webpages, inspected the site maps, stalked the showhomes, found every single Instagram account with a similar house type and are about to reserve your dream home…before you do, it might be worthwhile reading this blog to make sure you’ve considered all the extra extras that could cause costs to mount up.
Buying a new home can be a complicated and emotional process. It is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and that can be a scary prospect. From my experience of buying a new-build off-plan not just once, but twice, and using different government schemes to purchase, I’ve learnt that it pays to be prepared and as informed as possible from the beginning. For many people, the first step is qualifying just how much you can afford to spend on your new home. You may think this is easier when buying on a new build development like Ebbsfleet Garden City, as you don’t need to worry about renovations or structural work. However, while your mortgage broker or bank considers a whole range of factors such as lifestyle and dependants when assessing your eligibility, what they don’t consider is what you may need to spend on ‘extras’ once you’ve completed on your property.
Exactly what interior fixtures and fittings come with your home varies from developer to developer, and by house type. Do not assume that your home will look just like the showhome! Always make sure to check with your sales team, and don’t be afraid to be pushy about getting a written list of exactly what you should expect in your completed home. We were verbally told we would have a sink and cupboards in our utility room, however this turned out to be incorrect. It wasn’t a big enough problem to pull out of the purchase (and it was probably too late anyway!) but it would have been nice to have managed our own expectations before picturing what our home would look like. In Ebbsfleet Garden City, the only developer who provides you with what I would consider to be a completely finished property within the sale price, warts, flooring and all, is Countryside Properties.
David Wilson Homes showhome upgraded utility room (upper cupboards, granite worktop & washer/dryer are all extras)
We were shocked to discover that with our developer, David Wilson Homes, flooring was not included in the property purchase price, however this seems to be standard across the board of new-build developers (other than Countryside). Apparently, it is considered an extra as it can’t be factored into the house value and be put on the mortgage. The cost of flooring our 4-bed detached property through our developer was looking very expensive, so we made the decision to have it done by a local business in Dartford called Steve’s Carpets once we had completed. David Wilson Homes kindly let them in to measure up before the completion date and it only took them 2 days to lay the flooring and carpet, so it didn’t have a huge impact on our move in schedule and saved us about £6k! We also used exactly the same brand LVT as was offered by our developer, which was Moduleo in Laurel Oak, but a higher spec range called Impress. In the bedrooms and lounge we chose the Mercury carpet from Abingdon’s Love Story Lasting Romance Collection. Understandably, it may seem easier to go with the developer flooring, but just know that there are cheaper options. At the point that we reserved our property, we were thinking we would have a house but not be able to afford the floor to go with it!
Choosing our flooring in Steve’s Carpets
Another extra we didn’t consider was turfing the garden. David Wilson Homes and Countryside properties came with turf, however for Redrow and Charles Church buyers you had to pay on top. This was a key factor in our decision-making, although if we had needed to pay for it ourselves we would probably have put in astro-turf. Our home also came with a teeny tiny bit of paving in the back garden along the side of the house, although we will definitely need to extend this ourselves at some point as its only two paving stones wide. We also got an outdoor tap by the back door, and an external light by the front door. Extras that weren’t included are back garden or outside garage lights, exterior plug socket and integral door from the garden into the garage (I’ve since seen that lots of Taylor Wimpy homes have this useful feature).
Our garden before & after turf
Most large developers have a fairly limited range of options when it comes to kitchen and bathroom fixtures and fittings, however you are able to make some choices to personalise your home to your own tastes. Making our choices was one of the most exciting parts of buying our new build property, and the most overwhelming! My advice would be don’t feel any pressure to rush, and make sure to ask questions or for images and specs from the sales team if you are finding it hard to decide. There is also the big decision of DO YOU UPGRADE?! Knowing that we had a very tight budget, the sales team actually advised us against getting the £4,000 kitchen upgrade, which would have included granite worktops, cupboards in the utility room, an integrated washing machine and glass splashback. Due to the price of our house, we already had a decent kitchen package as standard, and so without paying extra it came with spotlights, integrated dishwasher, laminate worktop, integrated double oven, integrated fridge/freezer, gas hob, stainless steel splashback and sink. We chose Woodbury Gloss kitchen units in Cashmere, with Dark Ash laminate worktops.
Our Kitchen (minus floor!) on completion day
The other choice to make in our house was the bathroom tiles. Different value houses come with different levels of tiles as standard, ours came with half-height in the family bathroom and full-height in the shower, as well as full-height in the ensuite shower. You can pay extra to have more tiling put in. We chose Drift Summer Shadows in all our bathrooms. The David Wilson Homes showhome had huge built-in look mirrors above the bath and sinks, which looked as though they should have been included in the bathroom package, but these were actually something you would have to put in yourself.
David Wilson Homes showhome bathroom
Most new-build properties will come with bare hanging bulbs, and if you want spotlights you’ll have to pay extra, around £80 per spot! This is something to think about, as when furnishing your new home, you’ll have to budget for light fixtures in every room. Most developers will let you customise your plug sockets, for a price. This was something we hadn’t even considered when we purchased but have learnt a lesson from as since moving in, we have found there are quite a few places in our house lacking in plug sockets that seem quite badly thought-out. For example, the wall in our master bedroom where the dressing table goes has no plug sockets, so I currently have to use my hair dryer and straighteners sitting on the floor in front of the wardrobe mirror, to be near the plug on the other side of the room. Plug sockets and media plates tend to be placed at the bottom of the wall, so you can pay extra to have them moved higher up if you are wanting to mount your tv on the wall. As already mentioned, check if you are getting any outdoor lighting or exterior plug sockets, as these can make life much easier when mowing the lawn or trying to deck out your garden with festoon lights! Another small extra to ask about is a doorbell – our house came with one, however I’ve since learned from new neighbours that the developer has now removed that as an included extra.
Our Master Bedroom with bare hanging bulb and no window dressing
A huge expense when buying a new build home are window dressings. This is something you really need to plan for before completion, so that you are able to spend your first night in your new home without bin liners over the windows! Shutters have been hugely popular in recent years, and we decided to get them fitted to all the external facing downstairs rooms, to allow for flexible privacy. They are a big investment, as are made to measure for the house and its unlikely you’ll take them with you when you move. Our shutter company, Simon Paul Shutters & Blinds, were fantastic and went in to measure up before we completed, which meant that they were able to order the shutters well in advance. We have blackout curtains in the kids rooms, roman blinds in the other two bedrooms and faux wood waterproof venetian blinds in the bathrooms. Before we decided on the bedroom blinds, we used Gro Blinds for a few weeks, which stick to the window with suction cups.
The only extra we chose to pay for when purchasing our new build was upgrading to a fitted wardrobe with sliding doors in our master bedroom. It is beautiful and really good quality, so if we had been able to afford it (this one was around £900 to upgrade from the plain white and handled doors that came as standard), I would have got them put in all the bedrooms, as it can be a hassle doing it retrospectively. In the other bedroom we have used IKEA wardrobes, which at a fraction of the price still look good in the space.
Fitted wardrobe in our Master Bedroom
I hope this hasn’t been too much information overload, and that you have found it helpful if you are considering or in the middle of buying a new-build home, in Ebbsfleet Garden City or elsewhere. I’m by no means a property expert, but am always happy to answer questions about my own experiences, so if you head over to @lydias_layton_life you can drop me a DM or comment on my posts and I will answer as best I can!