Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you may ever make. But surprisingly, people take a mere 25 minutes on average when viewing a new home before deciding it’s the one for them.

Many people soon regret their fast decisions and going with their gut about a house they initially liked, when they later experience costly and time consuming problems. If only they queried that old boiler before making the purchase, they could have saved thousands of pounds in plumbing fees.

The most common mistakes when buying a home mostly happen because people don’t ask the right questions when viewing a property. This checklist will help you make sure the house you’re interested in really is best-suited for your needs.




1. Is there damp?

Living in a property with damp can be costly, not to mention bad for your health. Damp occurs as a result of moulds, which produce allergens irritants and even toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Moulds can also cause asthma attacks

The worse the mould is, the higher the price to remove and repair any damage. To learn more about the costs of eliminating damp, this Which Guide is full of useful tips. The main signs of mould/damp are a mouldy smell, flaky plaster, and watermarked walls or ceilings.


2. Does the house face north or south?

A north- or south-facing house can make all the difference to the atmosphere in your home. Although during winter or on a cloudy day it can be difficult to tell apart a north or south-facing house, in the summer it makes all the difference.

In winter, during a cloudy day or at night, it is difficult to tell the difference between a north and south facing house or garden – but in summer it can make the difference.

A south-facing garden gets all of the sun and a north-facing garden will normally be blocked by the shadow of your house.


3. Is the property adequately sound-proofed?

Noisy neighbours are not something you want to consider putting up with once you’ve moved into your new home. If the sellers have the radio or television on ask for it to be turned down to ensure that you can’t hear your neighbours’ every word.

If your property is near a train station or busy road, consider whether you’ll be able to sleep peacefully if the sound of oncoming traffic is within hearing distance.


4. Is the plumbing up to scratch? 

Plumbing is one of the most important aspects to examine before buying a house. It’s your job as the buyer to uncover any potentially serious and expensive problems that aren’t always apparent.

Make sure to inspect the boiler. An old, inefficient boiler could cost you more money than you’d planned on both water and heating bills. So, don’t be afraid to ask when the boiler was fitted – if it is over 10 years old, it’s efficiency is likely to be 30% less than what you’d hope for. If the hot water tank is situated in the roof it is most likely an old one, and may have to be replaced soon.

Remember to check taps in the kitchen, bathroom, toilet and shower. They should be in good condition and leak-free. Are the radiators in working order?

There are many aspects to consider from a plumbing point of view. This is why having a plumber survey the property before purchase is fundamental, and could save you a great deal of time in addition to expenses running into thousands of pounds.


5. Is the building structure in good shape?

Walk around the outside of the house to check its exterior. Can you spot any damp or cracks in the walls? Are there loose tiles on the roof and broken guttering? If you spot any of these warning signs, find out what the cause is and whether the seller will carry out repairs before your big purchase.

If your offer is accepted, make sure to get an independent house survey so that a qualified expert can thoroughly assess the property.


6. Is the roof problem-free?

The roof is one of the most expensive features of a property, so it’s important to give it a good inspection. You can start by assessing the roof from a distance. Firstly, check that it’s free of mould, that it’s flat and there are no unusual edges or bulges. Are there any worn-out spots or are there shingles missing? These are usually indications that the roof is old. We recommend asking the homeowner about the roof’s materials and lifespan.

Roofs are frequently built with materials ranging from composite shingles, metal, tin, rubber or cedar shingles. Why is this important? A roof made from composite shingles helps the roof last for a longer time with minimal difficulties, while other common materials may require inspection and maintenance annually.


7. Is there enough storage space?

Storage space is an important factor that can often be overlooked when viewing a house. Are there cupboards to keep your hoover, towels, books and boxes of junk? If not, is there space for storage units to be fitted? Storage space can be scarce, especially in new builds, so make sure to keep this in mind when viewing your next potential house.


8. Is it your kind of neighbourhood?

You can get a good feel for a neighbourhood by walking and driving through nearby streets. It’s worth doing this both during daylight hours and at night time to assess things like traffic, noise and personal safety.

Other questions worth considering include:

  • Is public transport within walking distance?
  • Are there busy/noisy roads or train tracks nearby?
  • Is there pubs, bars or restaurants nearby that will disturb your sleep at night?
  • Can you walk to a grocery store for a pint of milk, or do you have to drive?
  • Does the property rest underneath a flight path?
  • Are there big trees growing nearby that could potentially cause subsidence problems?
  • Will you need a permit to park there?
  • Is it difficult to find parking if you don’t have off-street parking or a garage?

It is important to meticulously assess a potential new home before you make the purchase. Once you’re serious about a property, hire a professional to inspect the home and give you an objective assessment. Repairs should be completed before you move  into your new house to avoid future problems.

For information about buying a property through bridging or auction finance, please enjoy our blog posts and useful guides.