Your new home will need to get used to being lived in as much as you need to get used to living in your new home. There are certain things that you should keep an eye out for when you first move in and some basic checks you can do that will help your home love you as much as you love it!
Many materials used in building a house are mixed using water, such as plaster, concrete and mortar. This means that water will evaporate from these materials and may cause condensation in your home. This process is known as “drying out” and usually only last for about 6 months.
The following steps will help you reduce the effects of drying out:
It is inevitable that small cracks may appear in the plaster and woodwork, as part of the drying out the residence. These will not affect the structural integrity of the property, and they should be dealt with easily during normal redecoration process.
Drying out can also cause salts to be deposited on internal and external walls. These might appear as white marks and can be easily wiped away. If the problem persists, this could indicate a water leak, in which case you should contact your developer.
Condensation accounts for approximately 70% of domestic damp, and is commonly attributed to a lack of balance between heating and ventilation, resulting a rise in relative humidity. An average family can produce up to 17 litres of water vapour a day, this from drying wet clothes on radiators or using tumble dryer, having hot baths or showers, boiling kettles, cooking and breathing. An excess of condensation can cause peeling wallpaper, crumbling plaster, discolouration and even health issues such as the growth of mould on walls and ceilings, or dust mites.
To control the excess of moisture you can close kitchen and bathroom doors to prevent steam going into other colder rooms, opening windows each day, even in the winter, to a allow a change of air, wiping down surfaces when moisture settles, and maintaining low background heat.
Normal condensation issues that do not endanger the structural integrity of the property, are excluded from the policy.
As your home is lived in and heated, the timber and plaster used to build your home will shrink which may cause small cracks to appear. These cracks are not an indication of subsidence or any structural defects and can be permanently repaired.
To minimise cracking, try to keep an even temperature throughout your house, and whenever possible, don’t have the heating on too high. If cracks appear, they should be left for a few months before you try to seal them. If you redecorate, use good quality filler on any gaps.
Small cracks are common in newly built properties. To minimize cracking, the drying process needs to be gradual, therefore you should ventilate as much as possible and use your heating moderately. When minor cracks appear, these should be left and sealed during decoration, once drying out process is complete.
If however you feel these cracks are more significant, report them to your developer as soon as possible as they may be the first signs of movement in the structure.
If you find evidence of any water staining on the walls or ceilings of your property, again report these to your developer as soon as possible. This could be the result of faulty plumbing, or the first signs of water entering the property through the external walls or roof.
Efflorescence typically occurs during initial cure of a cementitious product, when water moving through a wall or other structure, or water being driven out as a result of the heat of hydration as cement stone is being formed, which forms a white deposit that can normally be removed by wiping or brushing with a dry, stiff brush. It is important that you must not try to wash off the salts, since this may make matters worse.
Keep an eye out for any scuffs, scratches or marks on any of your walls, surfaces or appliances. Although these are not covered under your policy, you will need to make your developer aware of them to ensure you get them remedied as soon as possible. If you have any areas of concern, take photographs. This is not only to evidence the problem, but will also allow you to determine if the problem worsens over time. Please note that these are not covered under our policy, and you should go directly to your developer.
All newly built dwellings are required to meet good levels of insulation and air tightness, this potentially means that dwellings do not “breath” as well as an older building. For this reason new houses will retain moisture from cooking and bathing for longer periods which could cause condensation. To avoid condensation dwellings are now installed with various methods of ventilation systems which may include the following
It is important in all of the above methods of ventilation that you familiarise yourself with the controls and operation of each system. Here are a few suggestions to ensure your new dwelling is correctly ventilated.