Spending just 30 minutes viewing a property that is going to be your home for many years? In fact, some home buyers do and live to regret it.
Don’t remember the things you should have looked for after you have left.
1. Is the building structurally sound?
If the house looks and feels solid and structurally sound you may not need a surveyor at all. Big cracks are what you are looking for – you should expect some hairline cracks. Look especially around where extensions join, end-of-terrace walls, and bay windows, all of which can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house. If you see major cracks or have any doubts it might be worth getting a surveyor. If any walls look like they are seriously bowing consider engaging a structural engineer.
2. How much storage space is there?
Storage space is a valuable but often overlooked asset. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, spare linen, and boxes of junk? Is there room for cupboards or shelves to be built in? Especially in newly built houses, storage space can be scarce.
3. Which way does the house face?
In winter, during a cloudy day or at night, it is difficult to tell the difference between a north and south facing house or garden – but in summer it can make the difference between a home that is full of light and warmth, and one that is frustratingly dark. Your favourite plants might notice too, and protest by dying. Don’t be shy about taking a compass with you to the viewing – you might have one on your smart phone.
4. Are the rooms big enough for your needs?
Occasionally, it has been known for sellers to put smaller furniture in rooms to make them seem bigger.
5. How old is the roof?
Replacing roofs is an expensive business, and newer roofs have a life expectancy of only 15-20 years, depending on the materials
Also, if the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, check out the material with which it sealed. Nowadays a membrane is used and is better than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed
6. Are there enough power points and what condition are they in?
Dodgy wiring can be dangerous, and rewiring your new home can be an expensive business. Also check out the fuse board – often an indication of the state of the wiring. Does it look old and outdated?
7. Is the plumbing up to scratch?
Run the taps to check the water pressure. Ask if the pipes are insulated, and ensure they are not lead which would have to be replaced. Do the radiators actually work? How old is the boiler? If the hot water tank is situated in the roof it is probably an old one, and may have to be replaced soon
8. What’s the neighborhood like?
Are you near a pub or bar or kebab shop that becomes rowdy in the evening? Can you walk to shops to get a pint of milk, or do you have to drive? Is it easy to get to public transport? Are there noisy roads or train tracks nearby? Are you underneath a flight path? Check carefully before signing in the contract.
9. Is there sufficient drainage in the area?
Check the whereabouts and levels of external drains. Are the drains accessible and are they fully functional? Keen gardeners may use lots of extra water which can cause severe structural problems for potential home improvements such as conservatories or patios. If you are concerned about insufficient drainage for a property you wish to buy, then get a structural survey.
And most importantly, does it feel like you could make it your home? If you do like a property, arrange another viewing for a different time of day, and scout out the local area a bit more (see How to choose a new area to live in?). If you can, take somebody with you who might be able to notice things you don’t.