So you’re looking to buy a property… Well, we think everyone will agree that the house-hunting experience can be both exciting and daunting. From prices to neighbourhoods to finding a realtor, the process can take months. This is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime and if you’re painstaking throughout the process, potentially the most rewarding.
But the choice in a home should go beyond the aesthetics. And as beautiful as the interiors appear, they can be a distraction from more important factors. Some say to put your emotions aside to make a more rational decision, and while we see the value in that, we also understand that sometimes, the heart wants what it wants. So to make sure you’re prioritising all the right considerations during the house inspection, we’ve put together our very best and most thorough checklist of things to look out for.
Hire a Professional
If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re seriously considering buying a property, you might want to hire a professional to check on a few things. Pest inspection for one can save you a lot of time and money if later down the line you happen to find an ant infestation somewhere in the kitchen. They can also inform you of any risks to do with the area and materials the building is made of.
Swimming pools in private homes need to be inspected, namely the fencing around the pool. So if you’re looking to invest in a property with a pool, make sure the safety measurements are being respected.
While you’re at it, you might think about hiring a surveyor to indicate the boundaries of your land so you know where your property rights extend to.
At some point in our lives, we’ve probably all experienced jumping in the shower and feeling the disappointment of a weak water pressure system. Everything just takes longer! Do yourself a favour and run all taps in all rooms and flush all toilets, keeping check of low pressure, drainage problems and leaks.
Windows, Doors & Floors
From the window to the wall! Checking the functioning of windows and doors will tell you if draughts can be let in. And floors can be overlooked when there are often cases of bumps and warping. Do a sweep over these during the house inspection.
Walls shouldn’t have cracks bigger than 2mm wide. If they do, they should be inspected further by a professional. Other kinds of cracks to keep an eye out for are within the internal wall plastering. Hairline cracks that sometimes look like a map are an indication of poor wall plastering. Usually, they’ll appear in other areas of the house (potentially hiding behind hanging artwork!).
Water Stains & Mould
Bathrooms are a hotspot for water stains so have a lookout for leaks near the showers and baths. Repairs for these can be quite expensive even though they’re not considered structural damage. The same goes for cupboards in wet areas like the bathrooms and kitchen. Have a gander inside and gird your noses for any whiffs of moisture or mildew.
Mould can be a serious threat to the house and the people living it. The allergens it emits in the air cause allergic reactions and even asthma during the primary stages of infection. Eventually, it can cause even worse health problems. The mould in your home can be eliminated by professionals but they charge quite a big fee—best to prevent than cure!
Both the roof tiling and guttering need to be inspected here. Tiles shouldn’t be rusty, broken or loose. Grab a ladder and lean it against the roof guttering to check for wavy roof lines as well.
Take a walk around the outside of the house to survey the downpipes from the roof. They should be leading out to storm water drains and not dumping rain water onto the ground. If there are any signs of flooding around the pipe bases, this may mean that the drains are not sized correctly or there is a blockage. There’s a hefty price tag on constructing water draining systems so this is an important step!
Inspect the condition of fences and gates. If there are trees around the property, they might cause structural subsidence, which is the sinking of the foundation around your home. While a specific and rare issue, it can happen if trees put excessive strain on the home’s structure. Another potential danger is if their branches fall and hurt someone. This can be raised with the seller with a request for pruning.
What to Do If There’s a Problem
If there are any issues with the above, we’re glad you spotted them! You’re saving time and money by solving them now. Houses must pass an inspection before they can be sold so you are in your right to request a fix. Having said that, you must ask yourself if this is really the best home out there for you.
Have a thorough look through the notes you (hopefully) took during the house inspection and think about how serious you are about the property, and if you’re ready to work on those complications. If they seem overwhelming, you might want to cut your losses and move on. If not, be upfront about these issues with the seller as soon as possible. Just be prepared to have some competition–other buyers may not make the same demands.
If the seller isn’t keen on doing repairs, perhaps they’d be open to negotiating a lower price. Just make sure you’re accounting for the repair money coming out of your pocket. Also consider the mends before you move in to save you the hassle.
What a House Inspection Covers
As previously mentioned, homes are required to pass an inspection before they are sold. Inspectors will let you know if the problems are safety issues, major/minor defects and of any items that need to be replaced or closely monitored. Most of the considerations will be on an aesthetic level, which means if nothing catches their eye, they won’t raise issues. Here’s a list of what they’ll look at when they do a complete walk-through of the home:
- Exterior: Garage, roof
- Interior: Plumbing, Electrical, Ventilation
- Kitchen appliances
- Water heater
- Fire safety
You won’t regret taking the time and effort to do a thorough inspection. A lot of it is DIY and can save you trouble and money in the future. It forces you to have a realistic look at what you’re buying and if it’s worth it. Even if you have just 30 minutes to walk through the house, make sure it’s an efficient one. Try and arrive even earlier so you maximise time and can scope out the spaces before the other viewers swarm in. If the first viewing checks most of your boxes, book a second one and ideally at a different time of day so you can monitor noise and traffic.
We, at Soho, are always looking for more helpful and insightful ways to get you into your dream home, so keep browsing our search page to check out amazing listings available right now. But don’t just stop there, download our app to get the full Soho experience. Just remember to shortlist or swipe left on our listings so we can send you others that better match what you’re looking for.