Look Before You Leap – Five Key Things to Check When House Buying


2 November 2018

1 – What Is the House Built On?

Find out about the land the property has been built on. Various different types of soils can cause problems such as subsidence and so can large trees close to the house.

  • If the property is situated on the banks of a river is it positioned above the flood zone?
  • How close to the coast is the property and could you be affected by coastal erosion?
  • A number of new housing projects have been built on former industrial sites known as ‘brown field sites’ and should have paperwork showing that the land is not contaminated – best to get your solicitor to check.
  • Are there any building plans for the area? Your solicitor can check this on your behalf.

2 – What Is the Area Like?

The house make have seemed quiet and idyllic when you visited in the middle of the day but there are a number of things that could shatter your peace. If the property is not far from where you are currently living, it is well worth visiting the road during morning and evening rush hours, later in the evening and on a Saturday to check how busy the road becomes or if it is situated on a popular ‘rat run’ avoiding nearby main roads.

  • Does the area look clean and tidy and does it feel friendly?
  • Is there a school nearby? Does the road become a giant car park twice a day?
  • If there is a pub or restaurant close by? Will you be affected by night time noise or parked cars outside your house
  • If you are buying a flat and it is above a shop, what type of shop? Is it a 24 hour store? If it is a popular take away, what about parking, noise and the smell of cooking?
  • Is the property situated on a flight path for a major airport? Will this bother you?
  • Is it a parking permit zone? How many parking permits will you have? Will these be adequate?

3 – How Is the House Constructed?

Having a contemporarily designed property can be fun, but it is worth checking how it has been constructed and if for example, it is of wooden construction, have there have been any problems and what is the maintenance. Although a full survey may seem expensive, in the long run it is good value as it will pinpoint any problem areas in any type of property.

Are there any obvious major problems such as damp, faulty guttering, rotten window frames, dodgy plumbing (don’t be shy, run all the taps and flush the loos!) as these could all be costly to fix. Does the house/flat have a garage or off road parking?

4 – The Design of the House

Stop awhile and think about the layout of the property and whether you will find it meets your needs well. True, you can renovate and decorate each room in turn, but this will not alter the layout and its functionality…

  • In which direction does the house face? Which rooms will get sunshine at which time of the day? Would you be happy if (for example) you never had sunshine in your living room?
  • Do all the rooms have windows and natural daylight? Whilst it is common for a toilet not to have a window, some bathrooms don’t either – does this matter to you?
  • Is there plenty of storage room? Does it have an attic that can be used?
  • Are there several toilets? Essential for families!
  • Is the kitchen large enough and workable?
  • Are the bedrooms adequate in size? Fast forward five years – will they still be suitable as your children grow up? Do you access one bedroom through another? Could this cause problems?

5 – Love Thy Neighbour!

As it is more than likely that you will have neighbours close by, have a good look at their houses too and ask your property seller a little about the people who live in them…

  • Do the houses on either side of ‘your’ property look clean, tidy and well kept – and that includes the gardens? If not, this could affect the value of yours.
  • Are the neighbours noisy or do they have noisy children kicking balls or shouting for much of the day? Do they play loud music or regularly have late nights?
  • Does their front garden look like an auto jumble with bits of car engine everywhere? Are cars revved repeatedly?
  • If you are buying a flat, does the flat upstairs have wooden floors? Can you hear the neighbours walking across the floor? Bathrooms can be like ‘echo chambers’ can you hear them when they are using their bathroom?
  • Who is responsible in the block of flats for cleaning the communal areas?

Well after working your way through this list, are you still confident that your chosen property is definitely the one for you and yours? If you are, then it is time to go ahead and make it yours – in the knowledge that you will live happily ever after…

Article provided by one of The National Association of Property Buyers founding members House Buy Fast. Written by Chrissie S.

This content has been provided to us by the writer. Whilst believed to be factually correct, we cannot accept responsibility for content contained within it.

Jonathan Rolande

Jonathan Rolande (MNAEA MICBA MARLA) began in the property business in the late 1980’s and is a Director of House Buy Fast and helped to found The National Association of Property Buyers in 2013. He has worked closely with The Property Ombudsman to develop a Code of Practice for Residential Property Buying Companies.