Wandering into someone else’s home isn’t something we do every day.
So, if you’re tasked with carrying out a thorough investigation of a prospective property as a buyer, it’s very common to hurry through the process and not spot the most glaring issues that could cost you as the next homeowner. Some issues, like a headache-inducing feature wall, you can look past without a second thought, but others may need further investigation. Shaws Kensington has rounded up the most troublesome property issues that you should be aware of.
- 1. Subsidence: the type of land the property sits on is more important than property type. Many Victorian and Edwardian properties in London, for example, have a few cracks due to wear and tear, but not necessarily subsidence. Subsidence occurs when the ground underneath a house shifts or sinks lower. Tell-tale signs to look out for include cracks – particularly around windows and doors – that are thicker than a 10p coin and visible cracks internally and externally which have a diagonal path. Check with the homeowner that existing property insurance is transferable and that the policy covers subsidence and ground heave.
- 2. Rising damp: crinkled wallpaper, damp patches lining the bottom of internal walls, and warped door and window frames are all common signs of rising damp in a property. Rising damp is a result of groundwater rising up through the fabric of the wall. There are no quick solutions for fixing rising damp, and you may need a second, third, or even fourth opinion to find the right course of action.
- 3. Roof repairs: spotting signs early can bring down costs but these expenses should ideally be taken off the original asking price. Roof issues can range from inexpensive gutter clearing and individual tile replacements to expensive repair work, such as replacing a new roof (which can cost thousands) or fixing a sagging, flat roof.
- 4. Check the boiler: being left without a reliable heating system as you approach the winter months can spoil your first month within a new property. If a boiler is faulty, costs can mount up to £500. Most agents will point out upgraded features such as a new boiler or rewiring, but if they don’t, just ask.
- 5. Is the house safe? Long-term problems can develop in an older property. The best way to find out if the property is safe is to ask for gas and electric certificates during a visit, as well as carbon monoxide detectors which are only enforced by law in the lettings sector.
- 6. Understand the lease details of a property. Many new-build flats and houses – as well as older houses and converted flats – are now being sold as leasehold, so it’s now more important than ever to understand the leasehold tenure process and issues associated with shorter lease terms. Many owners will reduce the price of a property with a short lease term, which may seem tempting at the time. However, any lease that is below 85 years old will need to be extended to protect the value of a property and meet the requirements of the majority of mortgage lenders.
- 7. Which way does the house face? Homes with south-facing gardens are generally more expensive simply because we all love sunshine! It can be difficult to judge if a property has a north or south-facing garden during cloudy winter months, but it can make a real difference to your summer if you get it wrong. Viewings are the perfect time to ask more about how much sunlight a property receives, so if the initial advert does not discuss this aspect, ask before you buy.
- 8. Sound proofing regulations ensure that acoustic requirements are met inside new builds and conversions, but it’s always wise to check noise levels when you visit a property. Ask for complete silence inside the property, if a radio or TV is blaring in a room, to assess how much or little you can hear from neighbouring properties.