Running in your new home

Practical advice for homeowners moving during Covid

a man adjusting a pipe underneath his sink

If you are moving into a newly built home, it’s important that your home can ‘settle’ – just like you, particularly in these uncertain times.  

Giles Willson, Standards and Policy Manager at NHBC, the UK’s leading warranty and insurance provider for new build homes, said that there are a number of simple steps to take to help you ‘run in’ your new home. 

“Easy day to day measures can prevent or limit problems occurring, with the three key factors of moisture, condensation and shrinkage being the main causes of potential damage at any time of the year,” he said.  

“With UK mortgage approvals rising to their highest level in more than 10 years*, partly driven by buyers reassessing their living situation during the pandemic, it is clear that many tens of thousands of people have been busy and making the move during lockdown.” 

It is common that during construction, the materials used to build your home will have absorbed water. Although it is something you won’t notice, it’s important that this moisture evaporates slowly and be ventilated away. Decelerating the drying out process reduces the visible effects of shrinkage, by letting things take their natural course.  

Stop moisture spreading:   Extractor fans and cooker hoods, where fitted, should be used whenever water vapour is being produced, such as when cooking, washing clothes and showering.  Also ensure that windows are opened regularly to allow excess moisture to escape. 

Keep a constant temperature to limit cracking:  Try to keep an even temperature in the house so that the structure warms up and dries out gradually.   

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 for any gaps and plaster cracks that may have arisen from normal drying-out and shrinkage.  

Reduce condensation:  Keeping your trickle vents within your windows open will reduce condensation.  If it does appear on your windows, simply wipe it away.  Left alone, condensation can cause a lot of damage, and lead to unnecessary repair costs. 

Redecoration: The builder will probably have painted the walls with a light paint that lets moisture get out during the drying out period.  Further coats of emulsion and oil-based paints or wallpaper can be put on after about 9-12 months. 

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. 

And finally… 

Loft care: Check 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. 

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