Top tips on running in your new home

22 July 2019

a woman reading a nhbc guide on the sofa in her new home

If you are moving into a newly built home, it’s important that your home can ‘settle’. Like you, your new home will need to get used to being lived in.

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.

NHBC the UK’s leading warranty and insurance provider for new build homes, offers advice to help you ‘run in’ your new home.

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 bathing.  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 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.

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.

The three main factors of moisture, condensation and shrinkage can affect new houses – but simple day to day measures can prevent or limit damage occurring.  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 NHBC - Homeowners.