HOME USER GUIDE
Caring For & Using Your New Home
Similar to new cars, new homes require a period of “running in.” When a new house is constructed, it contains a significant amount of water, typically up to 5,000 liters. This water is a result of mixing materials like concrete and plaster, which require water during the construction process.
As a new house settles and dries out, certain changes may occur. The timber and plaster may shrink when heated, leading to small cracks. These cracks are normal and can be addressed during the decorating process. However, if you notice large cracks over 5mm in thickness (or the thickness of a £1 coin), they will be addressed by the builder within the defects period, usually around 12 months after the house was built.
During the drying-out process, vapor may be drawn out of the building materials, potentially causing condensation. To minimize cracking and manage condensation effectively, it is recommended to keep the home well ventilated and maintain an even temperature. Gradually heating the house is preferable over exposing it to very high temperatures, as rapid drying can occur.
For any issues or concerns with the house’s functionality, please refer to the Repairs page in Section 1 of the manual.
To minimize cracking in your new home, follow these simple steps:
- Ensure good ventilation and minimize condensation.
- Maintain an even temperature and allow the house to heat up gradually.
- Avoid extremely high temperatures that can lead to quick drying and potential issues.
AIR QUALITY AND VENTILATION
Ventilation plays a crucial role in maintaining good air quality and a comfortable environment in your new home. It involves utilizing windows, vents, and sometimes specially engineered systems designed to provide proper air flow. Achieving the right balance in ventilation helps avoid condensation problems and inefficient airflow. For specific details about the ventilation systems installed in your home, please refer to Section 4 of this manual.
Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces, resulting in the formation of tiny droplets of water. This can happen on mirrors, windows, tiles, and in areas with limited air movement, such as corners and wardrobes.
Condensation can be caused by several factors:
- Excessive moisture in the air from activities like cooking and washing.
- Inadequate ventilation.
- Significant temperature differences between rooms, such as a warm kitchen and a cold bedroom.
The impact of condensation on your home can be significant, leading to damp patches, black mold, mildew, and damage to plasterwork and wooden window frames.
PREVENTING CONDENSATION IN 3 STEPS:
- Reduce moisture production: Take measures to produce less moisture in your home, such as venting tumble dryers to the outside, cooking with lids on pans, and minimizing water usage during cooking.
- Ventilate your home: Increase ventilation to allow moist air to escape and fresh air to circulate. Open windows, use extractor fans, and ensure cross ventilation by opening doors and windows on opposite sides of the house.
- Maintain a constant temperature: Keep your home at a medium-to-high constant temperature to minimize moisture accumulation. Avoid over-ventilating in cold weather, as it can cause temperature drops and increase heating costs.
Dampness in your home may not always be caused by condensation. If you notice damp patches with a “tidemark” on walls, it could indicate other issues such as leaking or blocked gutters, a leaking roof, or internal water leaks. Please address these problems promptly to prevent further damage.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Here are some care and maintenance tips for various aspects of your home:
- Vinyl floors: Regularly wet mop with diluted floor cleaner and rinse with clean water. Avoid applying polish or other surface treatments.
- Kitchen units: Wipe with soapy water and dry with a clean cloth. Avoid overloading shelves.
- Sanitary ware/stainless steel sink tops: Regularly clean to prevent lime scale buildup using non-abrasive cleaners.
- Windows and doors: Clean internal frames with warm soapy water and use prescribed window-cleaning products for the glass. Ensure doors are adjusted if necessary for different flooring thicknesses.
- Wall tiles: Clean with warm soapy water and use stronger detergents if needed, following warning labels.
- Gardening: Follow proper care instructions for maintaining a new lawn, including avoiding walking on it initially, regular watering, mowing, and fertilizing as needed.
- Planting: Newly planted areas require frequent watering until root establishment. Any changes to the landscaping plan should be discussed with the appropriate authority.
Your new home may have renewable energy technology installed. Refer to Section 4 for more information and specific details about the systems in your property.
When purchasing appliances, consider their energy efficiency rating. Energy-efficient appliances labeled ‘A’ to ‘G’ can save significant energy and money over their lifetime. For more information, visit the Energy Saving Trust website or refer to the EU Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme.
LOW ENERGY LIGHTING
Your home is equipped with low-energy light fittings and bulbs to meet building regulation standards. These bulbs are specifically designed for these fittings and offer energy savings compared to conventional light bulbs. When replacing bulbs, ensure you use low-energy bulbs compatible with the fittings.
The consumer unit, typically located in the hallway or under stairs, contains switches that control different circuits in your home, such as lights and sockets. Residual circuit breakers (RCDs) protect against electrical faults. If an RCD trips, it can be easily reset by flicking the switch back to the “on” position. However, persistent tripping may indicate a fault requiring further investigation by a qualified electrician.
Your gas supply can be turned off by using the tap or valve located near the gas meter. It is essential to rely on qualified engineers for the installation of kitchen appliances.
To maintain proper drainage, avoid pouring fatty substances down the kitchen sink and refrain from flushing large or non-degradable objects down the toilets. These actions can cause blockages and backflow in drainage pipes. Regularly clean shower drains to prevent clogging. If blockages occur, the responsible party may be charged for remedial works.
Connections for a washing machine are typically provided under the sink. Always use a qualified engineer for appliance installations. The water meter is usually located outside your home in the footpath. You can turn off the water supply under the sink or by using the Sure Stop switch/valve within your home.
Water safety advice includes turning off the water supply before plumbing work, leaving background heat on during cold weather to prevent frozen pipes, and considering turning off the water when away from the property for an extended period.
Water-saving measures include using showers instead of baths, washing full loads in appliances, fixing dripping taps, boiling only the necessary amount of water, and being mindful of water usage in various activities.
Your home is equipped with mains-powered heat or smoke detectors, usually located in the hallway and landing. These detectors have battery back-up in case of power failure. Regularly test the smoke detectors by pressing the test button and remove dust using a vacuum cleaner nozzle. Smoke alarms are essential for safety, so never remove the battery or cover them.
HEATING AND HOT WATER
Your home’s heating system typically consists of a boiler with a controller/programmer thermostat for setting timings