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New Build Conveyancing – Example Enquires

Fridaysmove sets out bellow some of the more common new build conveyancing enquires raised when buying a new build home. These new build conveyancing enquires are not exhaustive as appropriate new build conveyancing enquires will vary and be specific to each development.

New Build enquiries about the vendor

Please confirm that the Estate will be fully constructed and the final surfacing on the roads done before there is any question of levying the Estate Rent Charge; in other words, that the capital costs of construction are not to be charged under the Estate Rent Charge but are only the costs of maintenance and repairs etc. . thereafter.

If the Vendor is a shell company formed to carry out this scheme only then deposits must be held as stakeholders and NHBC will be absolutely necessary.

Please supply a full company search result against the Vendor.

New Build development matters

Please confirm the boundaries of the site abut onto the public highway land in those streets without any land in third party ownership in between.

Please confirm that the final surfacing on the roads done before there is any question of levying the charge referred to in the Lease/Transfer; in other words, that the capital costs of construction are not to be charged but are only the costs of maintenance and repairs etc. . thereafter.

Please confirm the sewers and drains within the site will connect direct to the public surface water and foul sewers without crossing any land in third party ownership over which there are no rights to drain or discharge from the development site.

Are any of the sewers and drains on the site to be adopted as publicly maintainable?

Please confirm that NHBC cover or Zurich Insurance construction guarantee cover will apply.

Please confirm the Vendor will not be selling any part of the development to any housing association, local authority or similar organisation.

Please advise of the Vendor’s estimated physical completion date fit for occupation of the properties being sold.

New Build site matter enquiries

Has the site or any part been the subject of flooding or subsidence and if so please provide details.

Is the Vendor or its solicitors aware of any developments proposed abutting on or in the neighbourhood of the site which affect the residential scheme.   If so please specify the type and location.

Are there any subterranean vaults, cellars or constructions on or under the site?

What is the present permitted user of the site prior to the grant of planning permission for residential development?

What have been the past usages of the site and is the Vendor aware of any ground conditions whereby the site or any part will be classified as contaminated so as to prevent building for residential purposes or whereby any planning conditions in relation thereto must be complied with?

Has the site or any part thereof or any adjoining land within 500 meters been the subject of tipping or similar within the last 15 years?

Have any environmental audits been carried out by the Vendor or its predecessors in respect of any operations on or user of the site and if so please supply copies?

Is it possible that the construction programme could be delayed for an archaeological investigation or other reason?

Is the Vendor aware of any compulsory purchase order or of any designation by or resolution of any local or other authority as to compulsory purchase or of any proposal to make such an order or designation affecting the properties being sold?

Is the site affected by any Tree Preservation Order?

Is the Vendor aware of any order or proposal for schemes of works for the construction or alteration of any road within 200 yards of the site.

Has building regulation approval been granted yet and if so please provide a copy.

Please confirm that no high alumina cement, wood wool slabs, blue asbestos, calcium silicate brick, calcium chloride or asbestos sheeting or other material or substance which does not comply with current codes of building practice has been or will be used in the development.

What stage have the building works reached?

In relation to the property or any part thereof please let us have your replies to the following. Please note that in this section “the EM’ means the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and all regulations and orders made thereunder:-

(a)    has the land upon which any building or structure have ever been constructed been reclaimed by any excavation?
(b)    has the property or any part of it or any other property within 300 metres of any boundary been used for the deposit of waste of any description?
(c)    has the property or any part of it at any time been used for the carrying on of manufacturing or other process for the extraction of minerals?
(d)    is the owner aware of any use of property at any time or any process of extraction which would have resulted in any contamination of the soil or water standing on or running through the property or pollution of soil, adjacent land or any water standing or running through any adjacent land?
(e)    has the owner (or to its knowledge its predecessors in title) ever applied for any grant or funds from any public or local or other statutory authority in connection with environmental improvements or reclamation on the property?
(f)    has any soil or site investigations, environmental survey or sampling of soil, water or atmosphere at the property been undertaken?  If so, please provide copies of all relevant reports;
(g)    are any poisonous, noxious or pollutant materials stored or used in or about any part of the property?
(h)    has any public authority issued any notice or given any indication or step which might be taken in respect of the property in relation to the control of pollution including any formal notices under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 or the Water Resources Act 1991 or the EPA?
(i)    has there been any dispute with the relevant Local Authority or any other statutory authority or any other person including the owner or occupier of neighbouring or adjoining properties relating to the emission of any substance into air, water or adjoining properties from the property or relating to noise, heat, light or radiation?
(j)    has the property the benefit of any environmental insurance?  If so, please supply full details.

New Builds effected by Underground Railways

Please confirm you have enquired of London Underground Limited with regard to the location and depth of any underground tunnels under or in the vicinity of the site/property and supply us with a copy of the letter and plan in reply.

Specification and Facilities for new build development

Are carpets and appliances (please specify) to be fitted inclusive of the price?

Please detail the security arrangements for the buildings and the car parking areas.

Is there to be a video entry system, electronic door opening system to the main entrances of the Building or any garaging?

Will there be security surveillance cameras?

Please supply the landlord’s standard regulations for a development of this nature which may be made under the terms of the Leases and in relation to either the building and/or the car parking areas.

What staff will be employed within the development such as porters etc. when it is finished?

What is the position relating to the disposal of refuse?

Will the purchaser have to arrange electricity connection and where will the meter be?

Will there be gas at the apartment?  Will the purchaser have to arrange connection and where will the mater be?

Is there a communal television aerial and similarly in respect of radio with points in each apartment?

Will there be a satellite television receiving aerial with points in each apartment?

Are there any leisure and/or communal facilities?  If so please specify.

If there are leisure/communal facilities is there to be a payment for membership of any club to use the facilities and is there a payment requirement in connection with the user or will the general maintenance and running of the facilities be incorporated in the service charge and thereby will be no payment for membership/user.

Are there any balconies to all properties.   Are there any licences in relation to balconies or other parts of the building overhanging the public highway.

Are there any maintenance contracts or guarantees to be handed over in respect of the property or any appliances, fixtures or fittings in the same – please specify.

Please explain how the heating systems – for hot water and central heating – works and is it operated by individual lessees or operated centrally by the Management Company which then charges individual lessees?

How many lifts are there?

Please confirm that the bathroom tiling is on the floor and walls to ceiling height

Please confirm that the kitchen tiling is on the floor and walls to ceiling height – or otherwise clarify the position.

Our clients particularly ask for this confirmation as they are particularly mindful of damage to walls cause by condensation.

New Build Insurance Conveyancing Enquiries

Please confirm until completion the sale property will be insured by the contractor “in course of construction” insurance.   Please insert an express provision in the Contract to this effect – so purchasers can see the position.

Please provide full details of property insurance.

Please confirm that the interest of the purchaser and its mortgagees under the Policy will be automatically noted on completion of the purchase of the lease.

Please advise as to the amount of cover attributable to each property.

Please confirm terrorism cover applies.

New Build Service Charge Conveyancing Enquires

Please provide a service charge estimate for each property for the first year and subsequent years.

Please provide an itemised breakdown of the service charge expenditure for the first years and subsequent years.

Please advise whether there will be a reserve fund and how this will be assessed in early years if at all.

Will VAT be payable on the service charge?

Please provide Memorandum and Articles of the Management Company or if this has not been formed then copies of the Vendor’s standard form for these.

Generally how are the service charge percentages for the various units to be calculated – on square footage floor area?   Are these commercial or non-residential units? – How is their contribution to be assessed?

New Build Planning and Other Consent Conveyancing Enquiries

Please confirm that the development as a whole has been and will be constructed in accordance with relevant planning permissions/building regulation requirements and fire regulations/ escape requirements.

Please confirm the property will be completed in accordance with the relevant planning permissions and building regulations requirements so as to be fit for occupation and use by the time notice requiring legal completion to take place is given.

How many residential units will there be over the whole of the development.

Are there any consents other then planning permission, listed building consent and building regulation approvals to be obtained?

Are there any disputes in relation to planning affecting the property at present.

Are all party wall awards and rights to light and their agreements concluded and contracted?  Is there any outstanding pending or other disputes in relation to party walls awards or rights of light and air disputes?

New Build Construction Conveyancing Enquiries

Is the development being sold “off-plan” (i.e. Prior to or at an early stage in the development process).   If so please confirm a “building Structure” specification and detailed apartment specification will form part of the Contract for Sale.

Please advise who the main contractor is carrying out the construction works.

Please advise who is the architect and confirm he is inspecting in the course of construction.

Please advise who are the civil engineers involved.

The Purchasers will be looking for basic warranties on the construction from the Vendor.   This will need the construction to be to our client’s Chartered Surveyor’s reasonable satisfaction (and that would be the Mortgagees Surveyor) as otherwise the mortgage advance monies would not be available.

What arrangements will there be for the carrying out of remedial works?

The Vendors construction and warranty obligations will be as substantial as the Vendor.   In the absence of our company search can you please advise us as to the status of the Vendor for this purpose.

Refurbishment only conveyancing enquires   

Is any dry rot/beetle infestation/rising damp treatment works to be carried out to the building.   If so please provide details.

What guarantee for such works will there be available to purchasers.

When was/were the building/buildings constructed?

Please confirm that all drains sewers and other services media within the refurbishment development are new and include new pressure pipes, hot water pipes, boilers, internal pipes, radiators, new rainwater pipes, new waste pipes, all soil pipes and new sewerage system.

Please confirm that the foundations and structure of the building comprised within the refurbishment development are (on the basis of advice from consulting engineers and/or having regard to a structural  survey) entirely satisfactory for the refurbishment/development purposes.

What stage have the refurbishment reconstruction works reached.

What is an accurate assessment of the works – “substantial reconstruction”, “conversion without substantial”, reconstruction”, or what?

A 6 year NHBC scheme is available for refurbishments.   Please confirm this will be provided – if not why not?

New BuildContractual Matter – Enquires

Please supply replies to standard enquiries before contract.

The deposit should be payable by personal cheque or Bankers Draft as we understand your clients are looking for  exchanges quickly.

There should be provision in the Contract that if the square footage estimate on sale is not achieved then compensation would be payable for any shortfall in square footage with our client’s having a right to rescind if the shortfall is in excess of 5% of the originally anticipated floor area.   We can let you have some wording on this if you can confirm this is agreed.

Who will inspect the property and confirm that Notice to Complete can be given.   Would this be the Vendor’s Architects?

Please confirm the Vendor will undertake to complete the whole development including all landscaping within a time scale – please suggest this.

Notice to Complete should only given when the apartment is fit for occupation, reasonable access being available thereto including any lifts being in working order and those apartments abutting the property to be finished so that any final works to them do not cause nuisance or annoyance to any Purchaser who has legally completed.

Please confirm conditional exchanges on mortgage will be available – please supply a draft conditional on mortgage clause.

Please supply a ground floor layout plan so that we can explain access, etc. . to purchasers.

Where the Contract provides the property is sold subject to all matters registered or registrable at the Local Land Charges Registry or Register of any other competent authority or is subject to any other matters that affect the property please confirm on behalf of the Vendor that the Vendor is not aware of any such matters apart from as disclosed in the documentation supplied to us.

New Build Lease Enquiries

Has the form of Lease proposed been approved by HM Land Registry.

Has the Lease plan been approved by HM Land Registry and if not when will they be lodged for this purpose?

Please confirm the Lease plans are architect/surveyor prepared.

Please supply a car parking plan.

Forfeiture – bankruptcy or liquidation must not apply under this provision.

There must be mutual enforceability of lessee’s covenants.

The Lease must contain a provision on behalf of the Vendor to pay the service charges in respect of unoccupied units in order to ensure that all services can be provided.

The Vendor must covenant to keep unsold/unoccupied units in good repair until long leases are granted therefore.

Will control of the Management Company (if any) be handed over to purchasers on completion of the last sale or earlier?

Will the freehold then be transferred for a nominal consideration (not exceeding £100) to the  Management Company?

Investor purchasers must be able to freely grant unsecured tenancies at market rents without requiring any consents.

The Landlord must covenant to assume the management if the Management Company goes into liquidation or otherwise defaults in running the management scheme.

Where there is an Undertaking being granted there is the risk of forfeiture of the Headlease subject to relief if one or more of the Underlessees are willing to accept the original Head Lessee’s obligations as otherwise relief will be denied to the Underlessees.   The only alternatives are the Head Lessor agreeing not to forfeit the Headlease or the Head Lessee guaranteeing to the Underlessees that  it will not be in breach of the Headlease.

Where service of notices and proceedings can be at the property demised please confirm that this can be amended to include simultaneous services at the Lessees’ solicitors’ offices where the Lessee from time to time is not resident in the UK – such solicitors may be varied by notice in writing to the Landlord from time to time but otherwise will be as previously specified.

If there are lifts in the building, please confirm that the owners of flats on the ground and basement floors will not be required to contribute towards the cost of maintenance and renewal.

New Build Title Conveyancing Enquires

Please supply up to date Office Copy Entries and Filed Plan.

Please confirm on exchange purchasers may register cautions on the title to protect their contracts.

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