Things to Look Out For When Buying a New House
Buying a new house
Whether you are a first time buyer or seasoned mover, it is likely to have been quite a while (or never) since you have viewed a house to buy so here are some of the main things you might want to look for or questions you may wish to ask the agent. Many of these things apply if the property is empty although I have written this article assuming the property is occupied, as there are more things to consider than if empty.
It can be a good idea to turn up early for a property viewing, then if the agent who is showing you around hasn't arrived yet you can spend a few minutes looking at the outside of the property, and getting a feel for the street, neighbours and general area.
How does the street feel? Is it quiet or are there are lots of people hanging around? Is there a lot of traffic or other noise? Any bad smells, or unsightly views?
Look at the gardens/ outdoor areas of those around you; this gives you clues as to what kind of people they might be - lots of play equipment in the gardens means they probably have kids which could be noisy in the daytime; overgrown and untended gardens might be unoccupied/ someone old/ someone who doesn’t care about their home/ renters; immaculate and pruned gardens might mean they are sticklers, might be getting at you if you don’t mow your lawn enough!
Next, look at the exterior of the property. Is it in good condition? If it is multiple storeys and needs painting or work think about how much this will cost or whether you are happy to get on a ladder and do it yourself.
What building material is the property constructed from? Some building materials may not be allowed by certain mortgage companies
What condition is the roof in? If there are broken or missing tiles this will be a job which needs completing quickly and can be very expensive.
Does the front door open directly onto the street? If so it could be more noisy and does not allow for extending the property forwards. Is all guttering complete and functioning and are there drains? Check these are not blocked.
Are any paving slabs on parking spaces/ patios unsteady or broken? It can be difficult to repair or replace individual ones.
Is there a garden? Is it of a size you can easily tend? What kind of plants are there- ones which require maintenance? What direction does it face? A north facing garden won't get much sun, so won't be that nice to sit out in and many plants won't grow well. A south facing garden is best, then a west facing garden.
Are there outbuildings? Are these in good dry condition? Do they need maintenance? Will they be good storage areas for you? Do they have electricity in them which could allow you to have a washing machine in them? Is there an outdoor tap which might allow you to use a hosepipe if you want to?
Inside the House
There are lots of things to look out for all around the house. Here are some of the top ones to look out for.
Are carpets/ flooring in good condition or do they need replacing? This can be a time consuming and expensive activity. Equally however, if carpets are mucky they might be OK with a professional clean and it might allow you to get the property cheaper.
Are walls free from cracks, does wallpaper/ paint need replacing/ renewing? Not an expensive job if you do it yourself but can be time consuming. However, again it could be something you can use as a bargaining chip for getting the house at a cheaper price. If there are cracks, you might want to consider where these are. If it is a new property it could be building settling, if not then it could be something more serious, so be considerate.
Look up, are the ceilings cracked? This can be quite serious depending on what is in the room above and you’ll need to get the crack repaired even if there’s no other problem. Also look for stains; if there is a bathroom above it could be from a still leaking shower/ bath or could have been a one-off accident.
Consider that every piece of someone’s belongings could be hiding an issue/ fault/ messy stain. People do what they need to do to sell their property. Don’t be afraid to move things and look. We were stung by post sat on the worktop of our new property’s kitchen- it was hiding a completely worn worktop and the whole thing needed replacing.
Check there are TV aerials/ phone sockets/ plug points any how many or where they are if you require them. It is annoying moving in and finding there is no aerial, no phone connection and nowhere to plug in your washing machine. These have all happened to us although thankfully, all at different properties!
Check around windows and doors – is there any mould or damp? Mould that feels dry usually just suggests the airflow within the property is not great and causes condensation. Mould that feels wet may well be damp and this can be very costly to get rid of, so consider it.
What kind of boiler is it? How old is it? (if it is a combi boiler older than 10 years, it may well need replacing within 5 years), if it is an older conventional boiler with a hot water tank then do they still manufacture all the parts to replace it? Also remember if they do have a hot water tank it does only heat a certain amount of water which might only barely fill a bath. If it is a new boiler, how long is the warranty. New ones with 2 years or less warranty may not be good quality (many come with 5 years) and this must be factored in.
Touring the House
Inside the front door
Is there a hallway? If so, is there any storage space?
If there are stairs, are they instable or creaky? Also are they extremely steep? If so these might be an issues for the elderly, children or even people who have had a bit too much to drink!
Is there room for all the appliances you want and is it correctly plumbed in?
Are there enough cupboard units/ worktop space for your needs?
Are cupboard units in good repair or are there missing handles etc?
Is the sink and draining board properly fitted and in good condition?
Living / dining area
Is there room for your sofa/ table/ chairs?
Where will the TV go?
Is the lounge open plan or in a separate room? Open plan can be quite drafty.
Is it waterproofed and dry?
Does is have electric for utilities such as a washing machine?
Does it have a light? Where is the switch?
Is it boarded? If not, will you need to board it?
Does it have a ladder? If so, is it stable and unyielding? If not, is this something you will need to rectify?
How wide is the hatch? Is it significant to get in and out of easily and get up and down the items you might wish to put there.
Is the bathroom big enough for your needs?
Is the suite clean and functional/ to your taste or will it need replacing; if so, consider the time and cost.
Are tiles clean and free of cracks and chips?
Is there an extractor fan? If so and it comes on automatically with the light, will this irritate you?
Does the tap drip? It might be something you need to fix if so.
Is there storage space? Consider whether you need this or not
Are they big enough to fit in the beds required and accompanying furniture?
If there are colours in the bedrooms, will these need to be changed?
If you have regular visitors will you have space for them to sleep?
In the end, you have to draw up a list of priorities for you. You aren’t going to find somewhere which meets every single one of your needs, but work out what you want and try to get list of things you need, things you’d really like and things you can live without. You’ll be surprised at how many you find. If you are really interested in a property, consider going round for a second or even a third viewing. There are things you are bound to miss on the first viewing.