With Londoners now spending an average of just 33 minutes looking at a property before putting in an offer, it can be easy to buy with your heart rather than your head.
Chartered building surveyors Anderson Associates provide full structural surveys for home buyers in East London, South East London, Kent, Essex and Suffolk and know all about the dangers of jumping into a quick sale. Here we identify 6 key things potential buyers need to look out for when viewing a property.
1. Dangers of Damp
This is at the top of our list because of the serious effect damp and mould can have on human health. Mould on walls and around windows is unsightly and can cause major health problems, especially for babies, the elderly and people with asthma.
It’s important to look closely for the giveaway signs of damp, including a mouldy smell, flaky plaster and paintwork, as well as dark or patchy marks on walls, ceilings, around windows and on skirting boards. Get under the sink and examine the pipework and plumbing – check everywhere for leaks, water damage and mould.
A fresh lick of paint in a room could be covering up a damp problem – look closely, touch the walls and use your nose to smell for mould.
2. Structurally Sound?
Look for any big or small cracks in the walls and where extensions join the main part of the building, as well as end-of-terrace walls and bay windows – all of these can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house.
If you spot any cracks when viewing a property, ask the estate agent about them, make a note of them and then ask your surveyor to investigate them later. Long-established chartered building surveyors with years of experience, such as Suffolk-based Anderson Associates, are trained to spot risks and what may need attention in the near future.
3. Storage Space
Storage is extremely valuable but is often overlooked when viewing a property. You have to think about where you’ll store your vacuum cleaner, spare linen, towels and the boxes of junk you’ve accumulated over the years. When viewing a property, check that there is enough space in each room for cupboards and shelves to be built or installed.
Does the property have a basement or a cellar? How about an attic or loft space that can be used for storage? Could this space be converted to be used as a new room? This last factor could add significant value should you come to sell the property in the future.
4. Check the Windows
Windows are a key feature in any property, so it’s important they are in good condition. The state of the external window frames is a great indicator of the state of the house. If people have looked after the windows, it’s likely they’ve taken care of the rest of the property.
Check if the window frames have cracking paint on them. Is the double glazing intact? Are the window frames rotten? Push your finger into it to check – with old, faulty or damaged double glazing, this will cause condensation problems and create draughty rooms.
5. Look at The Roof
Before you go inside, have a good look at the roof from the street – is it caving in or sagging? Does it look new? A newer roof could mean a lower homeowners insurance rate. Does the property have a flat or nearly-flat roof? If so, find out what material was used to seal cover it. High performance rubber membranes are longer lasting that mineralised felt systems which can be prone to leaving seams and edges unsealed.
6. Plumbing Problems
Run the hot and cold taps in both the kitchen and the bathroom, as well as running the shower. Check the hot water gets hot quickly in all rooms and what the water pressure is like, especially in the shower.
Find out if the pipes throughout the house are insulated and ensure they’re not made of lead, which can be a health hazard and my need would have to be replaced. Ensure all the radiators work and ask how old the boiler is – request to see it if possible
Of course, if you do spot one or more of the above problems, assessing how serious it is – and what would be involved in rectifying it – will be a job for your surveyor.
Anderson Associates have years of experience carrying out full structural surveys for properties in East London, South East London, Kent, Essex and Suffolk, and of providing full, comprehensive reports on issues that may cause problems now and in the future.
We are fully independent and so have no conflict of interest when we supply you with reports on any property you may be interested in purchasing. We are also members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, so you can be guaranteed that our work is of a high standard. Please get in touch today on 0800 652 8285 or 01473 623656 or use our contact form.