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First time I've ever viewed a house - help!

(51 Posts)
OttersPocket Fri 13-Sep-13 14:41:54


DP and I have finally managed to get a mortgage in principal, we have our deposit sorted, all we need to do now is find a house to buy!

It's a very competitive market where we are and 'first time' houses sell like hotcakes. We're going to view one this evening but having never bought property before I feel a bit overwhelmed.

The house owners are doing the viewing. It's a 3 bed mid-terrace with an attic conversion. So, what do I need to ask? What should I look out for? I'm in Scotland so I have read the home report etc. Any tips gratefully received!

EdgarAllanPond Tue 17-Sep-13 20:43:15

I would look particularly carefully at ceilings to check for signs of damp and structural problems. check pipework (copper, not lead!)
good hard look at the roof -particularly flashing and joins. Look at soffits and bargeboards for signs of decay. Note any cracks in render (do they correspond to damp patches on the inside?)

note the lie of the land, are any external walls banked with soil (likely to cause damp) or is your house in a swamp? exposed on a hilltop?

note which side faces the prevailing wind and any potential problems that causes (old houses have tile on the West side round here for a reason)

Walk round the area and get a feel for what it is like - don't like the area, don't buy the house. Chat to neighbours if they are about.

Think about how your day will work there - school run, trip to work, dog walk, park trip etc...shops in walking distance?

I see you have offered anyway, good luck with survey smile

Zoe678 Tue 17-Sep-13 19:52:49

Any news Otterspocket? Did the survey happen today?

Want2bSupermum Tue 17-Sep-13 17:25:20

When I bought my flat my Dad had his guys look it over for me. He had an electrician, plumber and structural engineer go over the place. The seller tried to argue that they were not authorized to check on things but I told them that if they want my offer the checks need to be done. This is potentially the biggest purchase you will ever make and a mistake will cost you thousands.

FWIW they found a lot of problems and put together a priority list for me. One problem was a balcony belonging to the flat above wasn't lined and the plumbing on the exterior wasn't done correctly so causing water to penetrate the brickwork. Damp wasn't an issue but became an issue because the others always voted against it. Eventually everyone started suffering from damp. If we had fixed it at the start the cost would have been GBP500. 8 years later the cost is GBP12,500.

sherbetpips Tue 17-Sep-13 12:31:32

As I stated still get a survey but no point paying for the full one they are not qualified or authorised to check electrics, plumbing, they are not allowed to move furniture, curtains and often refuse to go in the loft to check roof space, etc.
Best idea may be to get a quote from the surveyor and ask for a full run down of what they will and will not be checking and what they are authorised to report on. Then ask for a comparison between types of survey so you know what you will miss out on. Good Luck.

Zoe678 Tue 17-Sep-13 11:06:07

agree with ladyboluna, my offer was subject to survey and to taking the house off the website.

Zoe678 Tue 17-Sep-13 11:04:56

I followed my surveyor round. He was too rotund to get into the attic and I know he would have left it if I wasn't there but I said to him 'you going to look in the attic?'. Anyway, I'm going on a pre-closing inspection later. Feel nervous and excited.

Ladyboluna Tue 17-Sep-13 10:22:56

Regarding surveys - we didn't have one, but then our house is less than 10 years old. On the day we moved in we had a builder and an electrician look at it, but I prefer to call them my in-laws! Lol quite lucky we had a cheaper and more thorough survey than money could have bought us. Admittedly it was after we bought it, however I don't trust surveyors as far as I can throw them. Heard too many horror stories that I know to be true.

Ladyboluna Tue 17-Sep-13 10:12:08

Me and my DP got our first house several weeks ago, and we went to at least 20 viewings on the way.

You've made an offer on the first house you've seen?! You're brave lol good luck!

Make sure to ask them to take the house off the market once they've accepted your offer!

MangoTiramisu Tue 17-Sep-13 09:31:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

upsydaisy33 Tue 17-Sep-13 08:16:37

Ask about the neighbours. You have to declare if there have been problems so a good one to ask or get the solicitor to ask....

nooka Tue 17-Sep-13 07:24:43

Totally second the idea of having a builder around, last time I bought in the uk we got a homebuyers survey first time around and ended up with a whole list of extra survey work being done, including in the end having my mums decorators visit to give us quotes. He said that from the survey he was expecting the place to be falling down! Ended up not buying because there were too many question marks and the seller wouldn't drop the price at all (I suspect because she took a lowish offer in the first place).

Second place I thought I'd get a structural survey just to get through all the hassle quickly. It looked good, very detailed and no major problems. Until we sold and were told that the whole of one floor had become detached from the front of the house (where a lot of the brick work had been replaced to put in new windows), oh and a a chimney breast had been removed too. Both of which clearly should have been spotted.

A friend did some decoration work for us a year or two earlier and said that he thought there was something wrong with the floor, so a more practical eye really is worth it I think.

Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 21:48:46

WOW, moving quickly to get a survey booked in for tomorrow. Excellent. You're a fast mover. You'll be in before I am at this rate!

OttersPocket Mon 16-Sep-13 21:21:36

Hi everyone,

Thank you SO much for all of your advice. It's been phenomenally helpful.

I am Scottish and buying in Edinburgh. Our offer has been accepted by the seller subject to our full survey which is being carried out tomorrow.

We're over the moon! (survey dependent)


Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 21:20:58

Pyrite! that's what I was trying to remember earlier. The new house was riddled with pyrite and although it looked beautifully finished, I think if there'd be flooding it would have melted, or something confused I don't know but surveyors think pyrite is VERY BAD

sarahtigh Mon 16-Sep-13 20:33:31

in Scotland if it is fixed price and you offered that you would expect to get it, some people might even offer a little bit less

the days of 10-20% over offers are long gone except perhaps in the most exclusive parts of Edinburgh, offers now would generally be just above unless very sought after and in certain parts might be under

minidipper Mon 16-Sep-13 20:04:18

OttersPocket - are you Scottish? Are your parents? I'm asking because my sister, who is English, lost several lovely houses in Scotland because she only offered a small amount over the advertised price and it turned out people normally offered between 10-20% of the asking price to secure a house. But she just didn't know this at the time.

Maybe the economic downturn has changed this and houses in Scotland go closer to their asking price, but do check with anyone you can, especially people who bought recently, what % over the published price they had to pay.

scarlet5tyger Mon 16-Sep-13 17:54:29

I've recently had a man round from an energy company who's also a surveyor. He was very good in the job he was doing for me, but while we were discussing the mistakes my (mortgage companies') surveyor made on the basic survey they did before I moved in he told me that technically for a basic survey a surveyor doesn't even need to enter the property!! They're just for the mortgage company to be sure they'll get their money back if you get repossessed.

Aethelfleda Mon 16-Sep-13 16:39:40

Get a survey BUT don't expect it to be reliable. There are so many get-outs that they can get away with all but the largest errors. We had a medium-depth survey (not full structural as newish property) just to make sure no subsidence or roof about to fall off. They missed electrical issues, leaky shower, leillandii within feet of our boundary....
So do get a survey but allow a chunk of money for making good the stuff they will inevitably miss/consider "outside their remit"..... Ours is fine now but we had to spend ££ sorting it all out!

allmycats Mon 16-Sep-13 16:25:44

I also would say to get a full survey - and they can check electrics etc as
pur surveyor most certainly made references to some issues with the electric wiring on our full survey.

A full survey can easily pay for itself.

That block work is called Mun ? something block isn't it ?

woozlebear Mon 16-Sep-13 16:23:21

If I were you (and I say this with bitter experience from buying our current house) have a basic survey then pay for a gas fitter, electrician and builder to give the house a once over.

Absolutely agree. Just bought a house with 20+ yr old boilder. Seller (and, weirdly, surveyor who I assume was totally incompetent) both said it was 'fairly new'. It was blatantly ancient, so we ignored them and budgeted for replacement within a few months. Turns out as soon as we moved in, it wasn't even working properly. Fine, no massive surprise. But as soon as the plumber came round to price up the job, it transpired the gas pipe round the whole house was too small, pressure was too low, and not only did we neeed a new boiler, but all the floors ripped up and new pipework. Job was 4.5k rather than 3k. And a huge amount of upheaval.

In future I will always get specialists to work out and price up EXACTLY what needs doing rather than just working on the average price.

Personally, I've now had two full structurals on two purchases with glaring errors in. I would be seriously tempted to get the opinion of a good builder and other specialists and not even bother with a survey in future. I certainly won't bother with full structural. Our surveys have had big mistakes in, and for 00s of £ haven't told us anything our builder wouldn't have told us for free. Our latest told us we definitely had asbestos in a roof and must have it ripped out. Testing said no asbestos. Would have wasted £000s.angry

Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 16:21:15

Balloonslayer, it was a new house that I got a shock with. Thrown up at the end of the boom, it had that concrete that is not supposed to be used in the UK. What is it called? It can't handle damp or wet.

Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 16:19:58

yeh I would have bought a favela this time last year if it hadn't been for a thorough survey on the place! what's the price difference between the minimum and a decent survey?

BalloonSlayer Mon 16-Sep-13 15:50:04

I would actually disagree and say that if you are buying a house over a certain age, and especially with a loft conversion, then you can't afford NOT to have a full structural survey done.

A friend of mine didn't - "we can't afford it" - and the house turned out to have loads wrong with it. By chance I turned out to know the daughter of the guy that sold it to them and she was surprised anyone had bought the place, it was so rickety, although it looked good.

If the surveyor says the place needs £10,000 spent on, say, the roof, you have a good lever towards getting some of that or all of it taken off the price. Which is what my friend could have done. The £500 (as it was then) that she "couldn't afford" to spend could have saved her thousands.

OttersPocket Mon 16-Sep-13 13:19:19

Thanks for the advice sherbet - I'll talk to DP about it this evening.

And yes, we are offering on the first house we viewed! Although we did go to view 6 other properties over the course of the weekend and nothing has come close to this one. We've also been looking online for the past few months and again none we have seen have been right for us.

No news as of yet - I'll update as soon as I hear.

Jaynebxl Mon 16-Sep-13 12:34:49

any news now??

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