5 key questions to ask when you're buying a new house

When you’re buying a new house, there’s a lot to consider. Whether or not you’re expecting to put time and money into renovating your property, you don’t want any unexpected surprises to pop up along the way. 

At Boultons Chartered Surveyors, we like to keep things simple, especially when it comes to evaluating a property. Here are five questions to get you started. 

How’s the plumbing? 

When you’re looking around a house, it’s difficult to tell whether the plumbing actually works. Even if your bath, shower and sinks look immaculate, there could be problems hiding under the surface. 

How old is the boiler? There are plenty of ways it could be struggling - from producing worrying noises to taking forever to heat up. If your boiler isn’t functioning well and your water pressure’s too high or low, you’ll soon run into problems. You certainly don’t want it to break down once the cold weather arrives. 

Are there any leaks? These won’t just increase your water bill, but can amount to bigger problems over time. It’s much better to know what you’re dealing with. You can make a more informed decision about whether or not to buy.  

Where’s the insulation?

If your house isn’t properly insulated, this can lead to damp, condensation and higher energy bills. You might be okay with paying the costs of additional insulation, but it’s certainly worth knowing what needs work.

Roughly one-third of heat escapes through outside walls when your home isn’t properly insulated. That’s why it’s really important to check for cavity wall insulation. If it’s not already in place, it can be difficult and pricey to install, setting you up for further expenses down the line. 

We’re all aware of the rising cost of energy. If your new home isn’t properly conserving heat, the price of your new energy bills could be an unwelcome surprise. 

Are there signs of subsidence?

Subsidence is one of the most difficult, time-consuming and costly things to deal with. It’s usually caused by the ground sinking beneath your house, leaving the foundations unstable and damaged. When this sinkage happens at different rates throughout the building, it can cause even more destruction. 

The main sign of subsidence is a wall crack which is wider than 3mm. It will be visible on both sides of a wall, especially where different parts of the house are joined together. 

Whilst subsidence can be monitored and its source removed, in some cases, the only option is an incredibly expensive procedure called underpinning. All in all, it’s best avoided. 

How about the garden? 

You might not think to look out for invasive plant species, but they can be a serious headache. 

Japanese knotweed is an extremely fast-growing, invasive plant which can result in serious damage to your house. It causes harm by growing into the structure of the property, destroying everything in its path, such as cables, drainpipes, walls and floors. 

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 dictates that you must control the growth of invasive non-native plants so they don’t spread to other surrounding areas. If you’re unaware of Japanese knotweed, you may have to spend a large sum on getting a specialist to come and deal with the problem.

Are there any safety risks? 

It’s common for sellers to try and mask potential problems, whether with a sneakily placed rug or by failing to mention important issues. And it’s not just about aesthetics - some problems can cause risks to your health and safety. 

A house survey can uncover risks such as damp, asbestos and faults with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. When it comes to your safety, it’s not worth taking shortcuts. 

We know it’s difficult to uncover every piece of damage or risk to a property by yourself. 

At Boultons Chartered Surveyors, we have over twenty years of experience identifying these problems. We’ve got different types of surveys you can access, depending on the age and condition of your property and in just 3-4 working days we’ll have a detailed report ready for you. 

Give us a call and we’ll set you on the right path. 

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