Property-savvy guide to what to look for when viewing a house
Deciding on which property you will spend a good number of years, perhaps the rest of your life, cannot be rushed. There are various aspects to consider when determining its livable suitability and compatibility with your life. You might spend only a quarter of an hour at a property, but knowing what to look for when viewing a house helps you tick off the right boxes. So, what are the things that should catch your eye before you fall in love with a property?
Usually, when viewing a property, you are accompanied by an estate agent. However, other times, the owners themselves will show you around. You can book more than one viewing – you can always come back for a better look. Make sure to ask the owners questions like how long they have lived in the property and why they are selling?
No matter how lovely the house you are viewing, if it can’t accommodate your whole family comfortably, then it is a deal-breaker. Remember, even if a two-bedroom house is adequate for a family of four with two children at present, it won’t stay adequate for much longer because when children become teenagers, they will need their own space. Sometimes, you might be able to add more rooms with loft conversions and house extensions, so make sure to check for feasibility for expansion.
You might want some garden space for parking, for the children to play in, or for your green fingers. You could even be looking to build a home office at a quieter end of the garden. If these are important to you, you should prioritise properties with decent-sized gardens. It is also a crucial aspect if you are planning an extension. Houses with gardens are more valuable and could become an investment for you in the future.
Roof – check for missing tiles, uneven or sagging surface, flat roof soft spots, damage to chimney stacks, and cracked gable ends. Make sure to look at the fascia and gutters to determine whether they need replacing.
Structure – look for cracks on the walls, extension joints, end-of-terrace walls, and bay windows. Look out for sulfate attacks on ground floor slabs that result in concrete disintegration, which damages the main walls of the structure.
Flooring – pay attention to the flooring, such as loose floorboards, damaged vinyl, and lamination. Test underfloor heating. Damp and rotting floor joists can cause the floor to collapse as they support the floorboards. A springy floor and a musty smell are indications of rotting wood.
Doors and windows – if the frames are cracked or fractured, they need replacing, and condensation on window glasses generally means poor insulation and will need double glazing or triple glazing. Inspect the hinges for rust and try opening and closing doors and windows.
Electricals – flick the switches on and off to see if all rooms have functioning electricity and light fittings. Enquire about warranties and energy certificates for installed electrical appliances such as the oven, washing machine, boiler, radiator, and stoves.
Open taps and check for water pressure. The cupboards under the kitchen sink should be dry – it is a sign of good plumbing. Inspect worktops and cupboards to see if they need to be replaced or in good condition. If you want a larger kitchen or an open-plan one, see options to extend. Make sure the pipes are not lead and that they are insulated.
Flush the toilets, run taps, and test hot water temperature and pressure. See if there’s enough space to install the bath size of your choice. Check for mould and whether there is sufficient ventilation. There should also be a power socket for hairdryers and shavers.
Old builds usually have a sizable attic space you can use for storage. However, if it isn’t a boarded loft, it doesn’t have much storage capacity. You might need to do it yourself. A basement and a garage are also extra spaces you can use for storage or convert for livable space. If you prefer parking your vehicle/vehicles in a garage, then a garage is a top priority.
Neighbourhood, commute, schools, and essential services
Some neighbourhoods are quieter and more family-friendly than others. Living directly under a flight path or a nearby school with impossible traffic might inconvenience you. It should also be easier to commute to work and the relevant school catchment area for your children. Make sure you are not too far from shops, a hospital, pharmacies, etc.
Council tax and utility bills give you an idea of the day-to-day running costs of the property. Energy bills help you determine energy efficiency levels in the house and what you can do to reduce costs.
Getting legal documentation in order
If it is a flat, find out whether it is a freehold or leasehold. Learn about the service charge and communal areas available to you. Before you put in an offer, make sure you go through the home report.
There are several options when you want to buy a house and incentives for first-time buyers. You can build your own home or consider developments that can offer more flexibility for your needs. Check your property affordability at GS Brown Construction or sell your property with our assisted sale services.