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10 things to look for when house hunting

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Grand replica linen house with barrel vaulted archway Country style houses by Des Ewing Residential Architects Country
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Being in the market for a new home means shopping around until you find what you like. But of course you need to be committed to not only finding the perfect new home, but also to notice anything that might be wrong with the properties you are viewing. 

Fortunately, we have drawn up a list to help you get into the spirit of being a talkative, inquisitive, and all-round more interesting client for professional estate agents.

And these are the things you should ask about:  

1. What about damp?

Look closely near the ceiling and the skirting boards (especially if the room has recently been painted) – that’s where you’re most likely to find flaky plaster, watermarked surfaces, and even a mouldy pong. 

2. Is it structurally sound?

Not all hairline cracks are harmless. Scrutinise areas where extensions join up, bay windows are located, and end-of-terrace walls are placed – basically, areas that can fall or bow away from the structure. 

This is why it’s so important to have an experienced chartered surveyor on your team to double-check faulty areas. 

3. Is there suitable storage space?

East Dulwich Family Home Modern living room by Imperfect Interiors Modern
Imperfect Interiors

East Dulwich Family Home

Imperfect Interiors

Is there space for your vacuum cleaner? Those boxes and boxes of accumulated junk? What about your prized kitchen goodies and accessories?

Make sure you check every single cupboard, drawer and closet to start calculating whether or not additional storage areas need to be added. 

4. Which way is which?

Classical Country House with Replica Olympic Arch Country style houses by Des Ewing Residential Architects Country
Des Ewing Residential Architects

Classical Country House with Replica Olympic Arch

Des Ewing Residential Architects

Don’t be shy to ask which direction the house faces – or to even take your own compass with you to the viewing. Remember, a house which faces the wrong way WILL become colder and darker the next time winter rolls around. 

5. Are the rooms spacious enough?

Hilgrove Mews Modern style bedroom by Ruin Studio Modern
Ruin Studio

Hilgrove Mews

Ruin Studio

While you’re at it, take some measuring tape as well. This is to measure all the new rooms to determine if your stuff will fit or not. 

6. Has the staging gone overboard?

Sulivan Road, Hurlingham, SW6 Modern dining room by APT Renovation Ltd Modern
APT Renovation Ltd

Sulivan Road, Hurlingham, SW6

APT Renovation Ltd

Staging that brings out a house’s potential is one thing. Staging that lies to you is something completely different. Try to remain objective. And ask if any of the furnishings / décor pieces are remaining behind – after all, it can take forever to find the ideal pieces, such as light fittings, for a new home. 

7. What about the windows?

Hadley Wood - North London Modern houses by New Images Architects Modern
New Images Architects

Hadley Wood—North London

New Images Architects

If it’s possible to push your finger into a wooden window frame, then it’s usually rotten. And double-glazed window panes with condensation in-between them typically indicate that something’s wrong. 

Remember that any new windows must be installed by a registered approved inspector who can provide a FENSA or similar certificate afterwards (guarantee included).

8. How old is the roof?

Property Conversion by Corebuild Ltd Modern
Corebuild Ltd

Property Conversion

Corebuild Ltd

Depending on the materials, newer roofs can last between 15 – 20 years. If the house has a flat roof, ask about its materials. These days, asphalt and gravel (which can result in unsealed seams and edges) are replaced by membrane, which is a much better solution. 

9. Does the plumbing work?

Drummonds Case Study: Loz Feliz Retreat, California Mediterranean style bathroom by Drummonds Bathrooms Mediterranean
Drummonds Bathrooms

Drummonds Case Study: Loz Feliz Retreat, California

Drummonds Bathrooms

Don’t be shy to test the taps’ water pressure. Or to ask if the pipes are insulated, whether the radiators still work, the age of the boiler, etc.

And note that, should the hot water tank be located on the roof of the house, that means it is probably old and might need to be replaced sooner rather than later. 

10. Ask about the area/neighbourhood

Flow of movement within dwelling improved due to spacious modern extension Modern houses by Des Ewing Residential Architects Modern
Des Ewing Residential Architects

Flow of movement within dwelling improved due to spacious modern extension

Des Ewing Residential Architects

Some common questions about houses’ location can include:

• Are there any social spots (like pubs) nearby that can get rowdy at times? 

• Are there any shops within walking distance?

• How’s the public transport in this area?

• Is there a school nearby? (even if you don’t have kids, a nearby school could mean traffic in the mornings and afternoons).

Most importantly, you need to ask yourself (and your household) if you will be able to make this new house your new home. 

Is there a home renovation in your future? Maybe look at these 7 great cladding materials for your house’s façade to start preparing yourself. 

What other specifics are important to you when viewing properties?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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