Would you spend a mere 15 minutes looking around a property before you make an offer? Many people do and it can be a big mistake. This place is going to be your home for years to come and there are important pieces of the puzzle to consider. The most in-depth way to make sure you’re not in for any nasty surprises in the long run is to get a decent survey. But there are some key points to tick off your checklist before you get that far…
1. Check for damp
The main indicators here are visible mould, an unpleasant smell, flaky plaster and tell-tale water marks on the ceiling. TOP TIP: Remember to look out for freshly painted walls which might be covering up any signs of damp.
2. Which way does the house face?
It can be harder to tell in the winter, but a north-facing house can plunge part of your house and garden into darkness in the summer. Try and visit on a sunny day to make sure the property doesn’t go from being uncomfortably cold to unbearably warm.
3. Are the window frames in good condition?
Flaky window frames or blown double-glazing units are big things to avoid. If there has been an investment into the upkeep of the window frames it’s a fairly sure bet that the sellers have kept on top of maintenance in the rest of the property.
4. Is the plumbing up to scratch?
Check that there is sufficient plumbing for appliances. Are there any taps that are obviously dripping? Do the pipes appear to be insulated? TOP TIP: A key question to ask is: how old is the boiler and is it regularly serviced? Replacing the boiler can be expensive and if it’s going to give up on you within months of moving in, it’s good to have a heads-up.
5. What are the local amenities like?
It’s important to take note of what’s available to you in your local area. Are you going to have to walk 5 miles to get a pint of milk? What are the transport links like? Is traffic noise going to be a problem? TOP TIP: Have a drive-by and make sure everything you need is close by. Everyone’s needs are unique so make sure the area suits you.
6. Check the roof
Loose tiles on the roof may not be a good indicator of things to come. Roof repairs are an expensive business and you don’t want that added onto your moving costs. Take a quick visual check for any obvious problems. If you are in doubt it may be best to ask the seller whether you can ask a specialist to have a look before you submit your offer.
7. Look deeper than the paint job
Before you’re bowled over by the colour and ambience of a room, make sure look out for things like plug sockets, loose wires and ageing appliances. TOP TIP: Work out if there are enough plug sockets for your needs. We live in an increasingly gadget-driven world so you’ll need to be covered.
8. Be a nosy neighbour (before you’ve even moved in)
It’s a great idea to speak to the neighbours, not only to get a feel for the area, but to assess who’s living next door to you. Neighbours can have such a high impact on your happiness, so if your house is next to the “neighbours from hell”, you want to know about it. TOP TIP: Have an internal list of things you want to find out in your mind but don’t make it too obvious that you’re probing for information. A casual, friendly conversation is good, but keep it brief and non-invasive. You need to make a positive impression too, after all!
9. Take a second look!
Don’t forget to revisit the property before making an offer. First impressions are so important, but it’s easy to get bowled over and not absorb everything you need to. When all is said and done, this is going to be your home and that needs careful consideration based on practicality (not just emotions). Take a look at this expert advice from Phil Spencer for more tips on things to check when viewing a property.