‘Your house could fall down!’ Key ‘signs’ buyers need to check before buying a property

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Housing surveys are not a legal requirement when getting a mortgage for a property, however, not getting one could mean major problems are missed. Housing surveys are undertaken by a qualified expert who will highlight problems that could affect the current condition of the property, or have the potential to get worse and cost thousands of pounds to rectify in the future. There are three main types of survey that get progressively more detailed – from the basic Condition Check up to a Building Survey.

Most people in the UK choose a Homebuyers Report, which costs around £500 and shows up any structural or legal issues, while also highlighting suggestions on repair and any maintenance that is required.

Terry Fisher from We Buy Any Home has claimed that buyers should be choosing the best level survey they can afford, especially when buying an older property.

He said it’s “common sense” to fully check a purchase that is going to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The property expert added: “Not only will it flag up any major issues that could affect your decision to buy the property, it will also give you an idea of the problems that will need sorting at some point in the future.

“For instance, a survey could reveal the roof needs £10,000 of repair work immediately.

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“This will enable you to go back to the buyer and either agree to knock some money off the overall price, or ask them to carry out the work before you exchange.”

So what are the main problems buyers need to be looking out for? Terry explains.

Damp

Damp is reportedly “one of the most common issues” surveyors look out is when water has entered a home and has caused structural damage.

Water can enter a home through the roof, walls or floors and can linger for some time.

Terry added: “If your survey highlights evidence of damp, get an expert in to fully assess the situation. But be prepared – the bill could run into the tens of thousands.”

Roof

Roof problems can be expensive, so it’s imperative an expert checks the roof of a property.

Surveyors will check for the state of the tiles, damaged ridge tiles, flashings and even blocked guttering.

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Terry said ensuring a roof is sound is a “major consideration” when buying a property.

Older homes can have single-tile roofs which can take a battering from the elements over the years.

Modern and refurbished homes are more likely to have a membrane.

Structural movement

Cracking on the walls and windows and doors not opening properly are key signs that a home might have structural problems.

Terry said: “Small cracks are natural in most houses, and simply require a quick filling and repainting job.

“But larger cracks in the walls and on the ceiling, bowing walls and lop-sided chimney breasts are all signs there could be something more serious.

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“Put simply, if this isn’t addressed your new house could fall down.”

Plants

Most people have heard of the invasive plant Japanese knotweed which grows extremely quickly. The plant is renowned for the serious and structural damage it can cause.

The plant can remain dormant underground throughout the winter months and can then grow rapidly as the weather warms up.

The invasive plant can knock thousands off the price of a home and could make a property more difficult to mortgage.

Terry added: “Japanese knotweed is also notoriously difficult to get rid of and treatment plans can cost thousands.”

Electrics

A property may need completely re-wiring if the electrical system is old or has been installed completely incorrectly.

Terry warned that this could be a “costly venture” but could also be unsafe with poor electrics being a “major fire risk”.

Windows

Good windows that are well-insulated will help reduce energy bills and cut heating costs.

Windows with wooden frames may need some attention along with windows that do not close properly which could be a sign of structural movement.

Insulation

Insulation has become more important than ever due to the rising cost of energy bills.

Most homes will have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which will outline how effective the thermal performance of a property is.

The EPC rating will outline how costly a property will be to heat and light and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

Terry said: “Something as simple as new loft insulation or even swapping older light bulbs for energy saving ones can have an impact on this.”

A property is given an energy-efficiency rating between A and G, with A being the most energy-efficient – and G being the least energy efficient.

Newer homes are likely to have a better EPC rating while older homes will likely have lower ratings.

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