Moving house is always a chore. Finding somewhere new to hang your hat can seem like such a daunting task, especially when you already have so much to deal with packing up your life and selling your own property.
Perhaps you only have a short time to find a new place to live, and are worried about being rushed in making a decision you might later regret. Thankfully, we at UK Homebuyers are on hand to offer you some helpful advice when it comes to finding your new home.
Using our handy checklist, you can begin your search fully prepared, and save yourself a lot of time and energy. We will help you to a) know what to look for when going to a viewing, b) avoid potential mistakes and pitfalls, and c) negotiate a better deal.
What to Look For
There is more than meets the eye in every house – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. It is always good to keep in mind things that may benefit or hinder you once you move in, things that might not seem obvious on your first viewing.
- Garden – Even if you are not particularly green-fingered, a well-maintained front/back garden can really make a house a home. Check it for weeds and general maintenance. Do you have any fruit-bearing trees? What about the fences – are they in good shape? Keeping a garden looking nice is challenge enough without having to engage in carpentry as well.
- Roof/attic – First of all, can you even gain easy access to the attic? This is important not just for storage, but also to check on the state of the insulation and the roof itself. Does the roof look well maintained? Are there missing or cracked tiles? If there is no easy way of finding all this out, then you may have a long-term problem on your hands.
- Boiler/heating system – Check on the state of the boiler. How old is it? How regularly has it been maintained? There should always be a servicing booklet nearby where these things are logged – if there isn’t that’s a cause for concern. You don’t want to move in in the Summer only to find out the boiler’s on the blink come Winter.
- Fuse box – Checking this will give you a good indication of the state of the house’s electrics. Again, see if there’s a servicing booklet handy. It’s even worth going around the house and checking all the light switches – you don’t want to move in and realise you need half the house rewired.
- Chimney – If there is one, check whether is it leaning or bulging. This could indicate damage which could be very expensive to repair if left unchecked. If it’s been purposely blocked off, check the former fireplace to make sure it’s been done properly, as well as any vents in other rooms – these could affect how well insulted your house is.
- Alarm system – Is there one? If so, it is remotely monitored and has an ongoing maintenance contract? The state of your new home’s security will not only affect your personal safety put your insurance premiums!
- Smoke alarms – Check that they all work properly, and whether or not they also detect carbon monoxide.
When viewing a property, chances are it will be presented to you in the best possible light, leaving off-putting or undesirable elements hidden beneath the surface. Sometimes things are too good to be true, and you need to be ready to spot anything that will give you more work to do than you bargained for once you move in.
- Damp/mould – Have a thorough check of all the rooms in the house. Are there any damp patches or mould? Any cracks that have been filled in or painted over? If so, these can indicate a deeper underlying problem with the building itself. Don’t be fooled when visiting during a (rare) dry spell – when it rains (and it will) you don’t want to find out to late that your house can’t keep the water out.
- Sockets – Check all the plug sockets in the house for age and damage. Damaged sockets are not only inconvenient but potentially very dangerous. Again, it might be worth checking them (i.e. plugging something in like a hairdryer or phone charger) to see if they all work properly.
- Gutters/drains – Are there any odd smells emanating from them? Any obvious signs of blockage? Are they all properly secured?
- Pests – Check for signs of wasp nests; these can be a real pain, as they will remain dormant during the winter and spring to life in the warmer months. Also have a look around the kitchen, especially in storage area, for the tell-tale signs of mice (bite-marks on packaging, droppings, etc.).
- Windows – Make sure they all fit their frames properly, and whether or not they are double glazing (these days they really should be). If they are, is there any misting between the panes? This could indicate damaged sealant, which will also need fixing. Which windows open? Are they lockable? Are any simply painted shut?
- Doors – Make sure all doors leading into the house are secure and that the locks are well-maintained – again, this could have an effect on your home insurance. How many sets of keys are there (this goes for the windows too)?
- Radiators – Check all the radiators for rust and ramp patches around them. Also make sure the house as at least one valve key, and that each of the valves work properly and aren’t rusted shut.
- New paint/wallpaper – Does anything look noticeably newer or better maintained than its surroundings? This could indicate some hidden damage like mould, damp, or cracks.
Get A Better Deal
If any of these elements aren’t up to scratch, you are well within your rights to bring these points up with the estate agent and homeowners. They should either be fixed before you move in, or (depending on their severity) significantly reduce the buying price. You can even begin making enquiries and getting quotes prior to moving in, so that you can move in quickly and still save yourself money in the long run. Whatever you do, don’t settle for anything that doesn’t meet your standards – your new home deserves to be at its best.