Top ten things to look for when you are house hunting

Top ten things to look for when you are house hunting

1st Aug, 2016

So, you’re looking at moving house or buying your first property? There are some key things that it’s worth looking out for when you are viewing prospective homes, in order to rule particular properties out or simply to give you a clearer sense of improvements you may need you make if you decide to put in an offer. Here’s our top ten:

To save time and money, a house should be well insulated. Check for double glazing, insulated pipes and an insulated loft to confirm how money saving the house is. In addition, remember to ask for a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC gives an energy efficiency rating and is valid for 10 years. It contains information on a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, plus recommendations on reducing energy use to save money. Sellers are legally required to order an EPC for their property before they put it on the market.

Issues such as large cracks (big enough to fit a 10 pence coin in), bowed walls or a misaligned chimney can indicate structural problems with the property and will potentially incur significant costs to correct.

Background noise such as music or the TV can mask or minimise significant noise pollution in the area, for example from a major road or passing trains.

Staining and discolouration on the walls can be evidence of dampness in the property. Look out for walls that may have been recently painted in an attempt to disguise the damp. Condensation or mould inside the windows can also indicate poor ventilation. Don’t be fooled by a strong smell of baking or coffee, as it may be masking other, less pleasant odours, which again could suggest the presence of damp.

Storage space
Are there enough cupboards in the property to house all of your belongings? Bear in mind that if there is a lack of built in storage you’ll have the added expense of purchasing storage units when you move in, unless the current owners will be leaving any freestanding furniture. Check with them what exactly the cost of the property includes, as if they are leaving furniture or curtains it will save you from splashing out on these items. Alternatively, if they are leaving things that you do not want, you’ll need to organise removal of these items before you move in.

Heating and water
How old is the boiler and do the radiators work? Ask for the radiators to be turned on during your viewing so you can test them for warmth. Be aware of especially noisy or leaky pipes. Turn on the showers to check the water pressure to confirm the length of time it takes for the water to warm up.

Gas and electricity
The safety of the house is likely to be your number one priority, so ask to see the gas and electrical certificates for the property for your peace of mind. Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in the house will also help to reassure you.

All locks on windows and doors should come with the keys and be operating correctly. Where possible, open and shut the doors and windows to check that they fit their frames and avoid costly issues with safety or privacy. The standard lock for front and back doors is a five-lever mortice deadlock, check that these have already been fitted to ensure the house is secure.

Consider the direction in which rooms are facing to figure out how much sunlight they receive. South facing rooms get the majority of the light, for most of the day (best for primary living and dining areas), whereas east facing rooms receive light and warmth in the morning and are cooler in the afternoon and evening (good for kitchens). In west facing rooms, it’s the other way round, so ideal for living areas. North facing rooms do not receive much at all in the way of sunlight and consequently are least likely to warm up naturally. These rooms are best used as bathrooms or toilets, or for storage.

The garden
Will the garden fit with your lifestyle? A large, tidy garden can look impressive but is likely to incur extensive time and expense to maintain. As with the interior of the property, think about the direction the garden faces. If it’s south facing you can enjoy sitting out there all day if it’s sunny, but a north facing garden will be largely in shade and less appropriate for sun worshippers.

For comprehensive guidance on what to look for when buying a home, see the detailed infographic created by Which? Mortgage Advisers.

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