Buying property for the first time is a daunting experience and there’s so much to think of when you’re viewing and looking around houses. The little niggles and potential problems with the property are often only highlighted after you’ve put an offer in and have reached the stage of having a survey done, but a lot of stress could be reduced if you were to check some aspects out sooner.
Local Heroes have recently put together a First Time Buyer’s Guide, which provides some excellent guidance on exactly what to look for when you’re buying property, including things to check before you buy as well as afterwards. From plumbing and heating, to drains and electrical issues, their guide will help you look at the finer details as you view properties. In this post, we’re taking a look at some of their tips and the ‘things we wish we’d known’ when buying our first property.
When it comes to the plumbing, unwanted water leaks can cause havoc. Local Heroes suggest that you check things such as the water tanks (where they’re located and what type they are), the taps and radiators for signs of leaks (look for stains, a build up of limescale or green marks) and look for any damp spots (this could indicate that there is a leak behind the wall).
About six months or so after buying our first house, and after having decorated, we experienced a sudden and expected flood. We’d been away for the weekend, and came back to discover that water had poured down through the ceiling in our bedroom and flooded the room. It turned out to have been caused by a dodgy ballcock, which had made water drip, build up and eventually flood through the ceiling.
The experts think it had probably been dripping for some time before it came through the ceiling. Had we thought to check the pipes in the loft more closely or check for damp spots in the loft before we purchased the house, there’s a possibility that the leak could have been spotted at an early stage and the flooding situation averted.
Before you buy a property, Local Heroes suggest you, “Flush the toilet” and “turn on some taps and check the water pressure.” I have to say these are not activities we’d have ever thought of when looking to buy our first home, but they are useful tips to be aware of.
In terms of flushing the toilet, they say to, “Listen out for knocking noises from the pipes. There should be a good powerful flush, even with a tap running. Continuous filling is a common issue with toilets – wait an extra minute to make sure the refilling finishes properly.”
In terms of the taps and water pressure checks, they suggest you don’t just try one tap, but try a few, including taps upstairs and downstairs, plus the shower. “The shower furthest away from the hot water tank or boiler is most likely to be under-powered.”
Painting and Plastering
Wallpaper helps a room look attractive, but it can also be used to hide a multitude of sins. By looking beyond the first impressions of a room, you can gain an insight into what other issues might be going on.
The Local Heroes First Time Home Buyer Guide suggests you should, “Check the walls and ceiling carefully – in every room.” Look out for any large cracks, uneven surfaces and plaster that seems different or might have been newly replaced. They also suggest you should, “Watch out for woodchip.”
In the first house we bought, there was way too much woodchip. We were of course aware that it was there when we purchased the house, but largely regarded it as an unsightly addition. In hindsight, it would have been wise to think about what it could have been hiding. All too often, woodchip, or other heavily textured wallpaper, is used as a careful ploy to hide suspect areas on walls, such as rough, cracked or bad areas of plaster, as we later discovered.
Whilst it is possible to remove woodchip, it can be a very time-consuming job and, if there are problems underneath, you could even end up with the plaster coming off as you remove the woodchip.
Of course, when you get to the stage of having a property survey carried out, issues such as these may well be raised. But it’s always good to be clear about what you’re letting yourself in for and what you’re buying, so you can make an informed choice.
If you’re planning on buying property soon, do check out the rest of the tips from Local Heroes. And if you’re already a homeowner, do let us know in the comments below what you wish you’d known before buying your first home.
Disclosure: This post is in conjunction with Local Heroes, but all views and experience are our own0