Viewing the property
Once you have found a property that you like, make sure you do as much research on it as possible. Even if it seems perfect at first glance, try to think about it from all angles. Write everything down – the best house-hunters take notes on each property they view which they can compare later.
Make at least two visits. View the house in the daylight and at night. Come at rush hour, as you could get a nasty surprise – what may seem like a quiet suburban road may be used as a short-cut by commuters during rush hour.
- Check what fixtures and fittings will be left when the current occupant vacates the house.
- Consider the layout of the house – are there any unusual shaped rooms that it would be difficult to fit furniture or appliances into? Are there enough power points?
- Don’t be put off by the seller’s choice of décor – try to imagine the house with your own furniture and style
State of Repair
- Plumbing: Are the pipes and the boiler/geyser lagged? How old is the piping? Lead piping will need to be replaced.
- Plug sockets: How old are they? What is their state of disrepair?
Structural Problems - Inside
- Subsidence: Look for cracks in ceilings and walls, doors that stick or that doesn’t hang correctly.
- Damp: You can smell damp, so use your nose. Mould, walls which are damp to the touch and flaking paintwork are also signs of damp. Be wary of new paint which could be hiding problems underneath.
- Condensation problems: Rotting window frames are a tell-tale sign. Make sure the bathrooms and kitchen are well ventilated.
Structural Problems - Outside
- Subsidence: Look for big cracks in the walls, close to gates and electric garage doors, or an uneven roofline. Be sure to ask about the condition of the roof.
- Damp: Check for missing roof tiles. Check the brickwork and mortar as cracks can let in damp.
- Root damage to foundations: If there are any big trees nearby, this could cause problems.
NB: Inspecting the property yourself does NOT necessarily eliminate the need for a professional survey.