Tips on how to help reduce shrinkage in your new home

A lot of water goes into the build of a new home and it has also been open to the weather during the build process. These combined factors, together with the use of the traditional building materials, can result in the manifestation of minor cracking, more usually seen around doorframes, windows and staircases and small circular marks (nailpops) where screws slightly break the painted surface (timber stud partitions, dormer windows, ceilings etc). This is quite normal in a new home. Normal shrinkage is anything 3 mm or less (the width of a £1 coin) and is not considered a defect under the NHBC Buildmark warranty. Groups of 6 or more related nail pops would be addressed as major settlement but isolated incidences are normal and are the responsibility of the home owner to tidy up when redecorating at a later time.

We recommend that instances of major décor settlement are reported to us between 18 months and 23 months post-handover to afford the home the maximum opportunity to settle and avoid repeated repairs of one area, which can reduce aesthetic success of the repair.

If in the unlikely event that a pound coin can be fitted in any shrinkage cracks or there appears to be more than six related circular screw marks within the same area, please contact us and we will review with a view to rectifying on your behalf.

Shrinkage can occur in many places:

  • Around door frames and mitres
  • Around skirting boards
  • Around windows
  • Ceiling and wall joints
  • Taped joints above doors
  • Where two different materials meet
  • The staircase and around it (this can sometimes be slightly more than normal)
  • Around light fittings, sockets and switches

In order to help reduce shrinkage and keep it to the absolute minimum, we recommend you do the following:

  • Do not over heat the house or subject it to big swings in temperature – keep heating constant and avoid fluctuations in temperature throughout the property
  • Keep trickle vents open all the time to keep the home well ventilated
  • Open windows on the night latch setting to increase ventilation especially at night time in bedrooms
  • Open windows when possible
  • Keep blinds and curtains open to avoid trapped air and condensation occurring
  • Wipe any condensation off windows to avoid mould forming
  • Keep cupboard doors slightly open i.e. wardrobes to allow air to circulate and avoid the possibility of mould occurring in corners. Don’t over pack with clothes and shoes especially in the corners
  • Keep en-suite doors closed when showering and extractor fans on
  • Avoid putting damp or wet clothes over radiators
  • Keep main room doors open to create a flow of air throughout the home (BUT NOT FIRE DOORS)
  • Keep furniture away from walls slightly to allow a flow of air round it
  • Our paint finish is designed to help your new home breathe and dry out gradually so we would recommend you avoid decorating for 12 months especially with vinyl paints and wallpapers which can trap moisture in the walls and result in the home taking longer to dry out. It may also result in paint bubbling and wallpaper peeling.


You may experience condensation at some time, as it is the inevitable result of warm moist air condensing on a cold surface e.g. a toilet cistern or windows. This is to be expected and is reduced by making sure you ventilate the area.

Condensation can also occur on the underside of the roofing felt in the roof space and this is why the NHBC advise that you should not store items in the roof space, which could be damaged by cold or damp. Moisture will also be released from the fabric of the building as it drys out. It is important to allow air to circulate and whenever possible avoid placing furniture hard up against walls as this will restrict air movement and may lead to damp patches appearing in extreme circumstances.

Homeowner care and maintenance

Make sure you are familiar with the correct operation of your doors and windows and do not force them if they become stiff. To ensure smooth operation, periodically clean any dust or dirt from the rubber seals and mechanisms to ensure they run freely.

The roof and canopies are not designed to be walked on directly and we cannot be held responsible for any accidental damage (e.g. broken roof tiles due to anyone walking or standing on them).

Please remember that your own safety is paramount when undertaking household maintenance.


Your home is just that – yours, but please be aware that during the defect liability period we may need access to areas of your home to carry out work for you and sometimes a homeowner can inadvertently prevent such access through their personal choice of decoration/floor coverings.

Please try to refrain from redecoration of your home before your courtesy maintenance inspection is carried out. We paint the walls and ceilings in a neutral colour for a good reason (see your NHBC booklet) and you should be aware that at courtesy maintenance we do not redecorate walls and ceilings. We touch up the paintwork where we have rectified popped nails etc. Wallpapering or repainting in different colours are reflections of personal taste and expression, but we would respectfully decline any request for redecoration at the time of Final Maintenance if the homeowner has chosen to redecorate their home in a different colour of paint or wallpapering.

Do not cover floor hatches with floor coverings that cannot be easily removed. We will lift and relay carpets and vinyl to get access beneath if required, provided they have not been permanently fixed to the floor (e.g. glued). Similarly whilst ceramic floor tiles, amtico and laminate flooring are very attractive, installing them can render access to the chipboard flooring, or to central heating components beneath. Stewart Milne Homes regrets that we cannot be held responsible for any costs associated with lifting/relaying these types of floor coverings, irrespective of the reasons for requiring such access.