Viewing a house tomorrow - what do I need to look out for?(87 Posts)
DP and I are first time buyers. This week we've got a meeting to finalise our mortgage in principal and also start looking at houses. What on earth should I be looking for when viewing houses? We don't need to worry about 'the area' as all of the properties we're interested in are in the village where we live now.
Any tips? It's all very grown up and scary!
Look beyond the decor, the furniture, the carpets, the kitchen and the bathroom as it is now and imagine how it could be. What about the garden? Is there off road parking?
Which way does it face? Does it get much natural light? If it's an old house, are the water pipes plastic? We paid £1000 to replace lead pipes. Does it have good loft space or room to extend? Even if you don't want more space it might help for selling it on. If it's your first house, look at where you can add value. Are the rooms all usable? None too small once the furniture is in, or odd shapes? Any asbestos?
Can you imagine yourself living there?
Is there plenty of storage?
Are the rooms big enough for your furniture?
Is the house big enough for your family? And if/as your family grows, will the house still be suitable?
Is there any scope to extend it?
How much maintenance will there be? (Wooden sash Windows need painting every few years, for example, and a big garden means lots of gardening, as well as lots of space.)
Are there enough electric sockets? These days we use a lot more electrical appliances than in the past. If there's not enough sockets, you might need a re-wire, or at the least, to add some. This is a messy job, after which you will need to redecorate.
Look at the condition of (or ask the owners when they were replaced / updated) the expensive jobs like wiring (look at the sockets and the light switches), the roof (I know it's limited what you can tell, but at least cast a glance up there), and the boiler.
Try (it's difficult I know) to ignore the decoration - that's easy to change.
For me, sun, garden, space of rooms, layout of rooms (I lived in one house where you couldn't put a sofa against a wall anywhere as the door was in the middle of the room.
Sunlight into the room you spend most time in can mean the world. Look out for painting over mould.
Check that the size of bedrooms would meet your current and future needs.
Check under carpets if you can to see the condition of wood underneath.
Take pics while there to see if you could fit all you need into kitchen.
Plug sockets. Are they decent and useful?
Open and shut doors.
Look at windows and the boiler.
Make a list of what you like and dislike about where you live now.
Remember redecorating with paint is cheap but changing layout isn't.
Think about parking and don't go for something that is just big enough. Try for a bit of spare space.
Are you practical people? If not then don't buy a doer up.
If a kitchen or bathroom is tatty but serviceable then don't discount it.
Neighbours and noise. Could you live with them?
Thank you! All very useful. I hadn't thought about plugs. The one thing we'll definitely looking out for is storage as our current place has non, not a cupboard or hiding place anywhere. Didn't notice til we moved it and I couldn't find a home for the hoover
The neighbours....and are there any factors fees? Some houses have factors fees for maintenance of street/gardens etc
Think about space if you plan to stay and have children, what seems huge for 2 becomes cramped for 4. Especially box rooms.
Do all doors match?
Look for things that might be missing - where to put the bin - storage for ironing board - wardrobes missing to make room look bigger - washing basket vacuum etc
Are the floors even?
Is the roof straight?
I prefer properties where you can get access to the kitchen from the hall - rather than walk through living spaces to get there - ie carting food shop every week
Look in all room corners for signs of mould, including above/inside any fitted wardrobes.
Go outside the property and look up at the roof and guttering to check its condition. Replacing the roof or having any work done to it such as new tiles etc can really be quite expensive. You want to buy a house with a decent roof and no damp problems, anything else such as wall colours can be sorted. You may need to enquire further if remedial work has been carried out on the roof and do get a thorough structural survey done, particularly if you are buying a period property as these can have certain issues.
Watch programmes such as Homes under the hammer as they often give good bits of advice on what to look out for when viewing houses.
Check the windows to see if they have a draught, or if the wood is rotting underneath the paint, if they are wooden.
Look under rugs, unless you are planning to replace the carpet anyway. I suggest you do - other peoples furniture marks make it look awful anyway.
If the kitchen isn't ideal, try and imagine if you could make it ideal. If you want an island or something, you'll never be able to have it in a long thin kitchen, which may seem obvious of course. But what I'm saying is don't just think "oh, we can change the kitchen', try and think about how you'd like to change it and whether you could achieve your ideal.
Think about what walls you could knock down if you were to want to go open plan.
Is there a downstairs cupboard for brooms and hoovers? Is it possible to not have your washing machine in the middle of the kitchen? Is there room for a dishwasher? Basically, can you accommodate things you might want, even if they are not there now? Is the fact they are not there now for a reason?
Parking. It will drive you mad having to move your car to let your OH out. So you will park on the street to avoid it. So will everyone else. Or perhaps there is no off road parking. Fine, but what time if the viewing? If it's the middle of the day when everyone is at work, come back in the evening and see what the parking is like.
If there is no shower in the main bathroom, is it easy enough to stick a temporary one on the wall via the tap, or is the tap at the wrong end to be able to do that? Will it mean a whole new bathroom if you don't want guests traipsing in your ensuite?
Look out for house viewing mode tricks. No bin in the kitchen, no TV in the living room, no wardrobe in the bedroom. Can make it look spacious for viewing but make sure everything you need in the room is already there, if it's not a massive house.
Try and look out windows into the back yard next door to get a feel for who your neighbours might be. Is someone standing there smoking near the window you might want open in the summer? Is there a filthy old mattress and a burnt out car and a chained up barking dogin the backyard? This can give you a bit of insight into what kind of lifestyle your neighbours might lead, at the risk of sounding judgmental. One person's idea of a trampoline and a football net as being a nice child friendly neighbourhood can be another person's idea of suburban hell.
Obviously a surveyor will pick up on really important structural stuff.
But if you are thinking of making an offer, don't hesitate to do drive by's at various times of day. Around school drop off time if it's near a school, 8pm when most people are home, that kind of thing, to see if it drastically changes.
Look above eye level. My friend bought a house and didn't even realise till she'd moved in that it had artex. No big deal for some, but she hated it and spent a fortune on a plasterer skimming the ceilings and painting them and new coving just to get it acceptable. She's not daft, for some reason she just didn't notice!
Remember what is expensive to fix and what isn't. Kitchens can be pretty expensive. Carpets, not that bad. Bathrooms, middling, but if you have 3 naff ones it can get pricey. Windows and facias pretty pricey, but good interest free deals if you have good credit. Roofs are expensive, but leave that to a surveyor for a proper idea of condition. Curtains you will need as they don't leave them, how many windows, and do you know someone who can make some for you? A decent front door can be about a grand. You can decorate like painting and wallpapering yourself if you feel inclined, and it's not prohibitive to get a "man" in. And it can wait. Floors can be expensive but like I said not bog standard carpet replacing.
This has been a really interesting thread. We all look for different things and I have also found my priorities have changed as I have aged eg. I once bought a north facing (meaning dark) house with a big garden - it suited us well at the time but my current house is south facing (sunny) with a teeny garden.
Things that have never changed include wanting somewhere quiet and not overlooked. We also love big halls.
The surveyor will pick up on anything serious so when viewing I would go with your heart. If you walk in and it feels like home snap it up. If on paper it is perfect, but it doesn't make your heart sing - walk away.
The other one is shoes and coats - they might be hidden away - is there space for these in the hall?
Turn all the lights off and see how dark it actually is. Also open some windows if you can and see what the noise is like. Don't worry too much on the first visit it's normal to book a second to check the practical stuff if your heart says you like it after the first
japanese knotweed and electric substations nearby
If you like the property on first viewing, make an appointment for a second viewing. It's amazing how different a house can seem the second time, and you can check all the points again and also any new thoughts you've had since the first viewing.
I would go with your instinct. You could walk into a potentially perfect house on paper, but just not feel comfortable when you are in it.
Remember that when you get the results of the survey there may be some things that need doing, and getting them done by a certain time may be a condition of the mortgage being granted. So if the survey says you need to repair the roof, for example, within 3 months of moving in, it needs doing as a priority.
How's the roof, boiler, electrics?
How big are the rooms?
Can you live with the kitchen, bathroom and decor before you can afford to change it?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.