Are you a house hunter viewing a property for the first time?

Below is a list of important checks that we recommend you look out for when looking around a potential new home, in order to avoid unnecessary repairs further down the line!

As a starting point, top things house hunters should be checking for in general when viewing a property are:


Smell of damp

A musty odour

Cracks in the plastering

of internal walls and visible gaps in the pointing between bricks on external walls

The quality of the bathroom

plastic vs ceramic

Boiler efficiency

age, quality, insulation

Heating

efficient radiators; signs of leaks or rust

Central heating

not just efficient heating but how it is run and controlled

Draughts

hold a hand up or put your cheek nearby to check for poorly insulated windows and doors

Leaking gutters

or incomplete guttering, signs of blockages around external gutter drains

Water damage/ Flood risk

signs of water marks on floorboards, ceilings, and tide marks on lower walls or skirting boards

Double glazing

flush fitting to external walls, condensation or signs of moisture between panels

Japanese knotweed in the garden

to identify the plants look for heart or shovel shaped leaves up to 200mm long with small clusters of creamy white flowers

Plumbing

signs of longstanding leakages i.e. on U-bend pipes

Poor decoration

badly fitting kitchen units and doors, fitted wardrobes and other built-in units around the home

Wiring and electrics

up to date fuse boards and circuit boards

Roof maintenance

missing slates, chimney stacks

When it comes to wiring and electrics we suggest you check:

Homeowners should visually check the condition of the fuse board and should always check for an installation certificate. As a general rule of thumb:

Old fuse type

= poor

Modern circuit breaker type

= reasonable

Latest button press trip type

= good (and all circuits will have been checked when this type was fitted)

There are some clear signs that can help you tell the age of electrical installations in a home. These are:

Cables coated in black rubber

(phased out in the 1960s)

Cables coated in lead or fabric

(before the 1960s)

A fuse box with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard mixture of fuse boxes

(before the 1960s)

Older round pin sockets and round light switches

braided flex hanging from ceiling roses, brown and black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards (before the 1960s)

Wall-mounted light switches in bathrooms

(before the 1960s)

You should also check for the following relevant documents to ensure all electrical work is up to standard in the property:

Electrical Certificate

(Installation/Modification)

EICR

(Electrical Installation Condition Report) (to indicate any work needed)

Building Regulations Compliance Certificate

(also known as a Part P Certificate)

Minor Works Electrical Certificate

Carry out the following checks to ensure your home will run efficiently:

Boiler efficiency

type of fuel, age, rating, any current warranties, service history (if any) and last known service (evidence)

Heating system

general age and condition, heating controls & type, Thermostatic Radiator Valves (if fitted), insulation to hot water tank and lagging of pipes

Insulation

cavity wall, loft

Renewable energy technologies

type, age and condition, any current warranties, any service / maintenance history, any tied finance like Green Deal, evidence of good roof integrity if roof mounted solar panels

Solar panels

If solar panels are installed (PV & Thermal), buyers should ask whether the installation was done correctly, and if in a block of flats who owns it and is responsible for its maintenance? If it was free install check whether this will cause an issue with obtaining a mortgage/p>

If the property comes with a garden, or outside space we suggest you check:

Trees and Hedges generally

Trees in your garden which may block light and cause a nuisance, e.g. leaf-fall, or trees in neighboring gardens / in the street causing the same. Hedges will require regular maintenance

Tall or well established trees

in your garden or a neighboring property with roots close to dividing walls or external walls of the property

Are there any tree protections?

Tree Preservation Orders AND Conservation Area designations (as these restrict what you can do to trees in terms of pruning and/or removal.)

Signs of invasive species

i.e. Japanese knotweed