Today’s new-build homes include many improvements and efficiencies, but like most new things, a newly-built property needs to be allowed to ‘settle’ to adjust to the rigours of occupation and the drying out period, which is normally nine to twelve months.
NHBC, the UK’s leading warranty provider and standards setting body for new build homes offers some practical advice for homeowners about taking extra care with their new home during the first few months:
Dealing with minor cracks: Small cracks in the walls and gaps in joinery are both common signs of shrinkage. These should be left for a few months and then sealed after your new home has dried out. When you redecorate, use a good filler to make good any gaps and plaster cracks that may have arisen from normal drying-out and shrinkage.
Keep a constant temperature to limit cracking: To minimise cracking, try to keep an even temperature in the house so that the structure warms up and dries out gradually.
Stop moisture spreading: Extractor fans and cooker hoods, where fitted, should be used whenever water vapour is being produced, i.e. cooking, washing clothes and bathing. Also ensure that windows are opened regularly to purge excess moisture.
Condensation: You may notice condensation, which can be the result of evaporation of moisture from building materials. Ensuring that trickle vents are open will reduce the likelihood of condensation. If it does occur on window glass, simply wipe it away. Condensation will gradually reduce as the building dries out.
Loft care: Examine the loft regularly for signs of condensation. The builder will have put permanent ventilation in the roof, usually at the eaves, to avoid condensation. These openings, which take the form of slots or holes should not be covered. Do not leave the loft hatch open because this will allow warm moist air into the loft, wasting heat and increasing the risk of condensation.
Wardrobe ventilation: Built-in wardrobe doors should be kept slightly ajar during the drying out period, especially if the wardrobe is on an external wall.
Efflorescence: You may notice the appearance of a white deposit on the wall (known as ‘efflorescence’) which can occur during the drying out process. These white deposits are actually natural salts that come out of the wall materials. They are more likely to occur on the external face of a masonry wall. These salts are in no way harmful and can be simply wiped or brushed away as they appear. As time goes by, the effects of efflorescence should diminish.
NHBC has worked consistently for over 75 years to raise the construction standards of new homes and provide protection for new homebuyers, with its flagship Buildmark warranty covering more than 80% of new homes built in the UK, giving homeowners assurance and redress if anything goes wrong
Further advice for homeowners on property maintenance and other issues can be found in NHBC’s useful publication, A Guide to your new home – a practical guide to looking after your new home, freely available at www.nhbc.co.uk/homeowners.