Viewing properties when you are looking to move house can be both an exciting, and stressful time.
After all, research shows that the average Briton only moves home once every 23 years! That’s not very often, which means there is a lot of pressure to ensure you find the right property when you do decide to up sticks.
For the most part, finding a property that ticks all of the boxes of what you’re looking for, combined with that ‘feeling’ you get when you walk in the door will be enough to tell you if you’ve found the right home for you.
However, even then, there are several key things that you can check to make sure you know exactly where you stand with the work that needs doing and how much you’ll have to spend on the property.
1) The Consumer Unit
If you are buying an older property, one of the first things you should do is check the electrics to see whether they are up-to-date with the current regulations.
If they look old and outdated, you will probably need to spend money on a new consumer unit and possibly a full rewire of the property, which can be expensive.
Before committing to buy the property, it’s wise to get a Part P qualified electrician to prepare an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) so you know where you stand.
2) The Boiler
The type of heating system and boiler installed in the property will be important to how high your energy bills are likely to be. The age of the system will also give you an idea of how likely you are to have to replace parts, or even the whole boiler, in the coming years.
Ask the seller of the property if the boiler has been regularly serviced and whether you can see the service certificates from the last few years. This will show you both how well the boiler has been cared for, and any issues it has previously ran into.
Just make sure that any work on the boiler has been conducted by a Gas Safe registered plumber as is required by law.
3) Signs of Damp
If you spot mould or damp in a property, don’t panic. It’s often very simple to fix but you’ll need to spot it in the first place to know whether it not it should concern you.
One of the most common causes of damp in properties is a blocked gutter or drain. Such an issue can cause water to gradually seep through external walls and begin damaging the internal paintwork and plasterwork. In these cases, it’s usually just a case of fixing the gutter or drain and repairing the damage it has caused.
However, if you notice spongy floorboards or damp rising up from the floor, it could indicate more serious issues that will need checking out by a qualified damp expert.
4) Signs of Subsidence
Cracked walls, sloping floors, and twisted window frames and doorways can all indicate possible movement in the foundations of a property.
Depending on the location of your property, some level of movement may not be unusual. The key thing you are looking for is that the movement is long-standing and non-progressive. That essentially means the subsidence has been there a long time and isn’t getting any worse.
Any issues with subsidence should be pointed out in your homebuyers survey, or you can instruct a structural engineer to investigate the cause of the movement in more detail.
5) Building Regulations Approval
If the property has had any significant building work carried out, such as an extension or loft conversion, it should have received planning permission and building regulations approval.
If not, it’s possible that the local authority could instruct you to pull down the extension or carry out further work to bring it up to current standards.
Be sure to ask the seller for the certificates that prove planning permission was granted and that building regulations approval has been achieved. Even if planning permission wasn’t granted it’s not necessarily game over. You may be able to apply for retrospective planning permission or take out indemnity insurance against action from the authorities.
So, that summarises five of the key things you can check to help avoid any nasty surprises after you have moved in. Just remember, none of the above issues need to be fatal to your hopes of buying the property. Just about any problem can be solved if you can afford to pay for the remedial work.
That’s why it’s important to spot any issues before you put in your offer as they can potentially be used to help negotiate a lower price for your dream home.