When it comes to buying a property, whether as an investment or as a new home for you and your family, we all have our own quirks and check boxes that we want to tick. Older properties often boast the kind of character that you won’t find in a new build, with original features mixed with more modern facilities and decorative elements. For those who lean towards older properties over the newer models on the market, you can expect a home which has its own charm and a story to tell – something which, for many, is a selling point.
But that doesn’t mean that buying an older property is always the most straightforward process. Nor does it mean that you won’t face your fair share of obstacles on the road to turning an old property into your brand new home. In this article, we uncover some of the main things to look out and consider when buying an older property – and some of the questions you should ask before committing to a purchase.
Starting big, the first thing to look out for and be sure to check is the roof – especially on an older property. Even if a roof looks good from the outside, that doesn’t mean it is structurally stable, with a formal property valuation and survey able to pinpoint exactly what repair work you may be looking at to live comfortably and safely.
As a first step though, make sure that during your initial viewings you look upwards and check for signs that tiles are missing, that the roof structure is sagging, that there is an excess of moss build up, or that the guttering may be damaged. All of these could be signs of a problem – and an expensive repair bill should you progress with the sale!
The decorative state of the property
Older properties often need some renovation and updating with regards to décor – but if you want to be able to move in straight away then you should at least be confident in the state of the property as it stands. That means no asbestos, no lead paint, and no dangerous or hazards walls or structural features!
As part of this examination, be sure to look beyond the paint – after all, a lot can be hidden with a few coats of paint.
Check for damp
A little damp is often to be expected in older properties, particularly those that may have sat empty for a while. But the simple fact is that properties built before 1919 have no damp-proof membrane and so are more likely to be exposed to damage through damp.
While a little is to be expected, some of the main signs of excessive damp include a musty smell and stains on the ceiling and in the corners of internal walls. This can hint at further damage, so be sure to follow up any concerning areas with a survey if you are serious about the property.
What’s the insulation status?
The better the insulation, the lower your heating bills will be – and that makes insulation a big thing to look out for and being aware of when viewing an older property. Check the loft insulation and water pipe insulation and consider upgrades that could be made to improve the energy efficiency of the property. Windows form another key part of natural insulation, though you must be careful to ensure that you stick with the aesthetic of the property and do not upset the appearance of the property by using modern materials.
Check the foundations
This is where getting a building survey is crucial, because they will explore any exterior cracks and identify any foundational problems which could render a property unsafe or a money pit in repair work. After all, correcting the foundations of a property is one of the most expensive types of building repair you can undertake and will make getting a mortgage very difficult.
Check the services
This includes the facilities like water and electricity, and in many cases can also include modern services like Wifi and other necessary connections for modern living.
The simple fact is, you need to know what you’re getting into before you commit to a property – especially an older property with a history. To give yourself complete peace of mind when house hunting, engage the services of a professional agency like ours to help you conduct the right surveys and checks during the initial viewing and any subsequent visits.