Think of the House Purchase Costs when Viewing Properties

publication date: Jul 7, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Think of the House Purchase Costs when Viewing Properties

When we first look at a property our main concern is to consider how we would live in it, the house purchase costs, whether our furniture will fit and if it feels right.  Can you transform it in to the lovely home you are seeking?  Of course these things are important, but remember that you are buying a building to turn in to a home, not a home that happens to be a building.  What that structure is like – its condition, position and facilities – should be at the heart of your decision-making.

As such, make sure you view properties in two ways:-

1.   According to your needs and wish list and
2.   Whether it is structurally safe, waterproof and how much ongoing maintenance is required.

First Visit
It’s a good idea to compare each property you visit according to your list of needs and wants.  After that, write down anything that you don’t like about it and any extras it might have that you hadn’t previously considered.  The property that might be in the best area may not meet your needs as well as the one close by which might even be cheaper.  You need to decide whether paying more money for the right location or less money for the property that meets your requirements is best.

Second Visit
From a building perspective, start from the top and work your way down to the bottom of the property.  The most expensive problems to fix are structural problems eg. a new roof, damp, or new windows, especially any which would have to be made to order rather than being a standard size.  You may not be trained to spot problems but make a list of anything you would like your surveyor to investigate.

Look for any missing tiles on the roof and ideally ask to look into the roof space without a light on to see if you can see any light coming through.  If you can, then rain is likely to be able to get in and this can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Check areas around the chimneys for gaps; look at the brickwork outside, especially above and below doors and windows as this is where cracks can appear.  Cracks can just be settlement and need a bit of repair or may be a sign of structural problems which could cost tens of thousands of pounds to put right.  Also check the guttering – are there any gaps that could cause leaks?  Does the water go into a drain or just soak into the ground?

Have a look at the fascias (boards below the windows and doors) see if they are rotting at all if wooden, or ill-fitting if uPVC.  If windows are double glazed, is there any condensation either on the windows or in between the double glazing as this would suggest that new ones are required.

When inside, look at bathrooms and kitchens and the walls near to the skirting boards to see if you can see any signs of damp. Ask if they have a damp-proof guarantee and find out which company it is with and if they are still in business.

If there is exposed woodwork, look for little holes that might indicate some infestation. This can be devastating to a home.  If there has been an infestation find out whether it has been treated and if there is a guarantee still in place.

Finally, ask how old the boiler is, when it was last serviced and ask if there are any gas or electrical certificates for work recently done on the home.  Check for bare wires and if an old property (pre-war) find out whether the property has been re-wired at all, otherwise you may have to bear the cost of this in the future.

Once you have your list, pass this to the company who is going to be doing your survey.

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