Top 15 things to look for when viewing a property

21 Jan 2014
Published in Guides
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If you are viewing a property be sure to watch out for these 15 things that you haven't thought of already. If you don't check for them you could regret it!

Going to view a property and all excited? That's great but remember you are judging this place to the greatest degree. You must ensure it is the right property for you and will still be that at least 5 years down the line. Here is a list of our top 15 things to look out for when viewing a house that you may not have thought of before.

1. Mobile phone reception

Simple one. Pull out your phone and see how much reception you have. You will be kicking yourself if you didn't check this when viewing the house and you have to live with years of, "Hello? Hello? Can you hear me okay?" or even worse becoming that person who your friends can never get a hold of. Also, be sure to check 4G or 3G in this property, it may not be as great as your mobile network claims for the area.

2. Storage heaters

Unlike central heating, which heats water at the boiler and pumps it around the radiator system, storage heaters use electricity to heat a huge lump of concrete (or other substance) during the night when the electricity tariff is cheaper. The concrete then warms the house during the day by letting out its stored heat. These are a cheap alternative to installing central heating but unfortunately they do not work as well. You could find yourself very cold during winter due to a number of problems with this heating method. You can tell a storage heater by looking at it, it will not have a pipe going in or out of it but instead a plug leading to a near by socket.

3. Double glazing

Everyone has double glazing now right? Wrong. Double glazing is expensive and some people dodged the cost by not having it installed. Without it you will find yourself cold in winter and you will find condensation pouring down your windows. It can be something you don't look for assuming it is there or something that has been well painted to make it look like a quality window. Have a closer look at all the windows to make sure.

4. Condensation

You can get condensation in the middle of winter even on double glazing but it shouldn't be too much. Is there a lot of damp on one set of windows but not others? Are there signs of mould in the sealant around the windows? Then the window is frequently wet and something to question.

5. Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is an electrical appliance about the size of a large printer or shredder. It is used to pull water out of the air and is used when rooms or houses are particularly humid / damp. This is a sign of a problem with ventilation or heating so it is time to ask questions. If you find one in an airing cupboard or in the same room as a tumble dryer that is to be expected as these typically produce a lot of water in the air, if not there shouldn't be a need for one so ask what it is for.

6. Smell

You can smell problems with drains straight away. If in a bathroom or kitchen you can smell drains there may be a problem that you will have to either fix or put up with the unpleasantness. It can be a problem if baths and sinks take a long time to drain.

Another one your nose can "look" out for is damp. You may smell a damp, thickness in the air, the kind you smell during heavy rainfall. Alternatively you may smell fresh paint. This could be a sign of painting over damp so if this is coupled with some of the other damp signs you could have a problem here.

7. Oddly positioned furniture

If you are thinking, "What a weird place to put a cupboard", check behind it. There may be a very good reason why there is a generic photo frame hanging in the kitchen, it could be used to hide a crack. Take a peep behind any odd piece of furniture as they could be used to hide flaws. You should aim to look behind all furniture preferably.

8. Roof

When outside the house take a good look at the roof and at the neighbours'. Does it look different? Do the tiles look new or very old, rubbly or missing. Does it slant in a unique way? Maybe it is covered in moss? Ask to look in the loft if there is access, does it look healthy or rotting? None of these are a good sign so ask questions about how long the roof has been there or when it last had some attention.

9. Parking

If there is a drive way, great but ask whose it is just to check. If not look at the road, is it littered with cars on both sides of the road all the way along? Neighbours will not necessarily respect the space outside your home as yours so be wary of a heavily parked street.

10. Run the taps

Do all the taps run first of all and do the toilets flush as you would expect? Run the hot tap in each plumbed room to see how long it takes to run hot, it could become annoying waiting a good minute for it to run hot every time you wash some plates. You can also check the drainage at this time; if the stink starts filling up with the plug out, you have a problem.

11. Plug sockets

Does it look like there are enough for your lifestyle? You are looking for at least a double socket where you plan to keep your TV and entertainment systems and a double where you expect to put your personal computer with monitors, speakers and printers. There should also be plenty of sockets for you beside beds, along kitchen units and all around both sides of living areas. You should also look for a shaving socket in the bathroom for either electric shaver or electric toothbrushes.

12. Cracks

Scan the walls for cracks along the walls. Short hairline cracks in the paint are okay but very long or wide ones should be a very loud warning sign. Wide enough to fit a coin inside is too wide and could be a serious cause for concern.

13. Storage

Bedrooms look a lot bigger without any cupboards so if you are buying a property off a developer they may have excluded cupboards to make it look more spacious. To visualise the room with cupboards, imagine the shortest wall as if it was a metre closer into the room. If you installed cupboards like that, would there be enough room to walk around that double bed? If not then you are in a single bedroom however large the bed.

Another room to look out for storage is the bathroom. Is that shelf really enough to store your countless hair products and last Christmas's shaving sets? Check the loft or shed/garage too.

14. Décor

Is the décor to your taste? If not can you live with it or will you be redecorating? If you are going to be redecorating, factor that into the price and be sure you have the knowledge and/(or) enthusiasm to do it yourself.

15. Loud neighbours

Ask if there have been any disputes with neighbours as, if there have been, they are obliged to tell you by law. This is true even if the noisy neighbour hasn't been taken to court over the dispute. You can check what your neighbours are like for free using our postcode statistics tool right now.

I hope this guide helps you ensure the house of your dreams really is that and has no nasty or costly surprises awaiting you upon ownership.

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