You’ve viewed your dream house and your heart is telling you to put an offer in!
But have you taken the time to look for potential property defects which, if not addressed, could later cause you a big headache?
It’s time to go for a second house viewing … But do you really know what you should be looking for?
Here’s a helpful checklist to take with you which will ensure you go into the house buying process with your eyes open.
- Are there any cracks in the walls? – Check inside and outside. A few hairline cracks should be expected however larger cracks could be a sign of a more serious problem. Pay special attention to where an extension joins an original building and around bay windows.
- Does the pointing look in good condition or are there gaps? Gaps can cause water ingress causing structural and damp issues.
- Are any of the walls bowed, leaning or bulged? Is the chimney breast and/or chimney stack leaning to one side? If so, the walls may not be structurally sound and you should seek specialist advice.
- Does the vendor have building regulation certificates for any extensions or conversions? Your conveyancer will look into this for you however it is good to know beforehand as it could save you time and money.
- Look for visible signs of damp in every room such as peeling wallpaper, stains on walls, flaky plaster and condensation on windows. Key places to check are in the corners of rooms, just above skirting boards, around window frames and on ceilings. Don’t be afraid to look behind curtains and furniture!
- Have any rooms recently been repainted? If so, has this been done to hide damp?
- Look on the outside of the house for stains that could have been caused by dripping water (from a broken gutter for example). Moss growing on exterior walls can also be a sign that there is a lot of moisture in the brickwork.
- Is there any render or a specific finish on the side of the house? If so, check the condition. Is there any flaky paint, cracks, mould or algae growing?
- If possible, lift rugs, mats or carpets to check the condition of the floor boards. Do they look in a good, solid condition? If there are lots of small holes in them, this could be a sign of woodworm.
- Take a close look at the condition of window frames, window sills, door frames and door steps. Are they intact or is the wood breaking and cracking.
- If you can gain access to the loft, check the condition of the rafters.
- Take a look at the roof from the outside – is there any evidence of slipped tiles or damage to the chimney?
- Do the flashings and fascias (wooden section under the roof) look in good condition?
- If possible, take a look in the loft during the day. Check for any light coming through the roof showing signs of gaps.
- Does the property have any flat roofs? If so, it is important to check how old the roof is and to look to see if there are any bulges or depressions. Flat roofs have a much shorter life span than pitched roofs.
- Is there a functioning burglar alarm and fire alarm system?
- Have security lights been installed?
- Do all the windows have locks?
- Do the doors have locks that would meet with insurer standards?
Water, Gas & Electric
- Have you tested the taps and checked that the toilets flush?
- Have gas and electric checks been done recently? Your conveyancer will look into this for you but it’s good to know in advance.
- What type of boiler does the property have, how old is it and when was it last serviced?
- How big is the water tank, how old is it and when was it last serviced?
- Do the radiators look in good condition?
- If appropriate, ask the owners to turn the heating on. Feel the radiators. How quickly does the house heat up? Is the heat evenly distributed across the radiators?
- Do all of the lights, plug sockets, phone points and TV points work?
- Check for signs of landslips and subsidence outside.
- Are there any trees in the vicinity that could be affecting the foundations of the house? If you’re unsure, seek advice from a specialist.
- Do the drains and gutters look clear and intact?
- What fixtures and fittings are included in the sale? Are they in a good state of repair?
- Is there double glazing? If so, are they in tact or is there condensation between the two glass panels?
- For flats or other properties with communal areas, check for defects here too. Are there any plans to rectify issues and would there be a charge for residents?
- Open cupboard doors and windows. Do they stick?
- Ask the vendor whether the house and/or garden has ever been flooded?
No property is perfect so don’t be alarmed if you do find some issues. Problems that you are aware of can be costed and rectified accordingly. Issues occur when problems arise unexpectedly. This is why it is very important to do your research!
We would always recommend you have a full Homebuyer’s Survey. In addition to this, a Building Survey may also be required if you are buying an older or period property, a property of non-standard construction, a property that has had major extensions or alterations, or a property that you suspect to have significant defects.
To speak to one of our advisors about getting a professional survey, please call us on 0800 169 9661.
Note: This is intended as a guide and is not an exhaustive list.