New-build garage not wide enough for cars

Claire Walker in her garage

A couple who have moved into a brand new £200,000 house were shocked to discover that the garage will not take an average family car - not if you want to be able to get out.

So what has happened, and is this sort of thing unusual?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Garage too narrow

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reported that Claire Walker (37) and Andy Birkhead (33) bought the £209,950 property together in Oxley Park, Huddersfield. It looked like the ideal family home for them and their son - a three-bedroom detached property, complete with garage. All went well while they moved in and used the garage to store boxes.

It was only when they emptied the boxes and tried to park in the garage that they discovered the horrible flaw. Walker's Volvo S40 was too wide to go into it, and although Birkhead's Fiesta ST could squeeze in, it left him trapped in his car because it was too narrow to open the door.

The couple is furious, and told the Daily Mail that when they contacted developer Persimmon, they were told that they should have measured the garage themselves.

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes, said in a statement: "The size of our garages are comparable with other housebuilders across the UK. The dimensions of each garage are governed by both the size of the house and the relevant planning regulations and are clearly laid out in the marketing brochure. We deeply regret that Miss Walker and Mr Birkhead are unhappy with the size of their garage. We continue to work with Miss Walker and Mr Birkhead to try and resolve the situation."


This isn't the only move into a new-build that hasn't gone entirely to plan. There have been hundreds of tales over the years, from any number of different property firms.

There was the couple who's staircase started coming away from the wall in their south Glasgow property, the family in Sussex who had sewage pouring down the walls after drains were not correctly installed, and the woman in the Peak District whose daughter narrowly escaped falling roof tiles that hadn't been properly attached.

Which surveyed 200 owners of new-builds in 2011 and discovered that more than half had faced some sort of problem in the first five years in the property. A quarter faced problems with the boiler, while 16% had issues with water, gas or electricity and 12% had structural problems.

Your rights

Most new homes are covered for two years for snags - so if anything goes wrong the developer will fix it. After that - until the fifth year - the developer will cover major issues that affect the structure of your property. However, they will not cover you for issues such as the size of the garage or rooms.

Size is definitely a consideration. Research at the end of last year from the Royal Institute of British Architects found that new properties in the UK are 15% smaller than in Ireland, 53% smaller than Denmark and 80% smaller than in Germany - and the properties are shrinking all the time.

People they interviewed for the study revealed all sorts of issues. Among the strangest were the family forced to store the vacuum cleaner at a relative's house because there was no room in the property, and another who had been reduced to storing food in the car boot. Overall, a third of people were disappointed with the amount of living space.

If you are considering a new-build, it's essential not to make any assumptions about size. Even if you are walking round a show home, consider whether the double bed is in fact a 4ft bed, and whether the spare room looks so spacious because they haven't chosen to put a wardrobe in. It's these sorts of things that can catch us out, with no comeback after purchase.

10 top ways to add value to your home
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New-build garage not wide enough for cars

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it. 

Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.

Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.

Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.

Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.

It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.

Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.

Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.

Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.

While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."

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