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Things to consider when buying an empty house

(20 Posts)
Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 14:08:14

The house has been on the market since September 2013 (that's not a typo!) We know the reasons for this and still want it. However it's been empty for around 14 months, it obviously has someone looking afyer it regularly as it's in really good condition, immiculate throughout, no cobwebs, no junk mail (we arrived before EA) I'm just trying to come up with all the expensive problems there might be because of this.
For example the heating hasn't been turned on in that time, it's a very cold area (windows were frozen when we looked at it) so some heating or waterpipes may need replacing of cracked.
Can anyone else think of any other potentially disastrous and costly things that could go wrong because the house has been empty?
(Just to be clear, were not trying to knock any money off because of these hypothetical reasons, but I want to put a contingency budget in palace)

Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 14:10:07

Should say the owners live in New Zealand, so it's not them looking afyer it!

Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 14:11:10

Ignore the stupid typos 🙈

Sidge Mon 23-Jan-17 14:15:44

I'd make sure I had a proper survey done, including an electrical survey. I suppose it's possible mice or similar might have chewed through wires?

Also looking for damp, rot, vermin. Check the water system - any likely issues from standing water in the water tank, if in the loft?

I'm not really sure though (I'm certainly no expert!). Just wondering what sort of things might be affected from standing unused for 3.5 years.

tessiebear4 Mon 23-Jan-17 14:18:13

Vermin, definitely

OnTheMove28 Mon 23-Jan-17 14:21:51

If someone has been looking after it then I think you should be ok. Are you sure the heating hasn't been on? I wouldn't assume the worst - we also have frozen windows in the current weather but the heating is still on several hours a day.

If it's a rural property then there could be other things to consider. Any open fires/woodburners will certainly need sweeping/cleaning. Check for vermin (mice etc. may have moved in), an oil tank could be a liability left for that long. Can't really think of anything else.

Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 14:46:34

No open fires or wood burners. It's not rural rural but is alittle out there and on the edge of a Forrest, so definitely vermin, I hadn't thought about that!
I checked about oil and a septic tank, but it's connected to the mains (woohoo!)
There's no loft (or water tank) as it's a converted bungalow, but I do want to get into the eves to have a good look for rot and (now) signs of droppings. It's not been empty since 2013, there have been Tennant's in and between 12 and 18 months ago they moved out (I said 14 as I figured it was the middle!)
We have a budget for what we want to do, I just want a worst case budget incase it's in a worse state of repair than I thought!!

Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 14:51:31

Oh and yes, definitley a full survey needs to be done, we have to have it anyway for a number of other reasons.

shovetheholly Mon 23-Jan-17 15:06:16

When DH moved into our current house, it had been empty a while and was the middle of winter. There were no long-term problems but it did take AGES to get the house warm. It's like the cold seeps into the walls and the floors. So do budget to have the heating on constantly if you move in during the winter!

I don't know how useful surveys are these days. There are so many caveats with them and so many 'mights' and 'maybes' that they don't really tell you anything any more. You may be better off paying a knowledgeable builder to visit with you and testing things like sockets, fires, the boiler for yourselves.

NotCitrus Mon 23-Jan-17 15:48:24

Full survey should do it, and a chat with the surveyor (ideally be there for it, but it should take most of a day for them). We got a great document which has lots of "do X annually to test for Y. Look for signs of x,y,z. If you see any of these, call someone who is a member of ABC trade body".

Our offer (reduced after the survey, increased slightly not to lose the house) was conditional on our seeing the boiler working and making the heating and hot water work around the house.

Moved in and had letter from the boiler firm saying "we have no idea how we got that boiler working again, and it's going to die very quickly - please get a new one before winter sets in"!

Our house was neither immaculate nor in good condition - took cleaner 24 hours to clean the place when we moved! The fact that it had been empty wasn't a problem.

Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 16:20:33

That's really positive notcitrus. I'm guessing it's going to need a good Hoover and planning on cleaning carpets. Obviously the kitchen and bathrooms need a wipe down, bit there's no sign of dirt or dust anywhere confused
I'm just crossing our fingers the mortgage gets approved, I know I will cry if it doesn't!

steppemum Mon 23-Jan-17 17:12:31

I think I would write into the sale that boiler must be working. It may be that it still needs replacing, but it should be serviced, and turned on for 24 hours, to check for leaks and damage before you buy. OR ask for price to be lowered against the fatc it is broken OR have a boiler engineer out on the day of exchange, and have written in that if the boiler/pipes leak it will be their cost not yours.
Or whatever your solicitor says! But do address it with them.

HappyAsASandboy Mon 23-Jan-17 19:08:31

Our house was empty for four years before we moved in!

We had a full survey, but there were no problem that were caused by it standing empty (it had been looked after by local family dropping in).

We've been here nearly 10 years now. There haven't been any problems we've found that could be attributed to it being empty for a few years (though there's been plenty of problems that were the reason it was empty for so long grin) But we knew all that before we moved in.

Laska5772 Mon 23-Jan-17 19:17:50

Check with the owners and your local council empty property officer. If its long term empty (over 2 years) and they have not been paying full council tax, and you take it over , you may be eligable for a full VAT rebate on any structural work you carry out on it..

(I work alongside local empty property officer for our area)

LumelaMme Mon 23-Jan-17 19:33:31

Check for mould, damp, vermin, water ingress from the roof.

If you don't move in right away, you might find that you are paying extra council tax (either 1505 or 200%, forget which). Councils use this to nominally punish people who sit on empty houses, but it's a pita if you're trying to do a place up to get it what you think of being habitable. Our local council counts somewhere as habitable provided it has a roof and running water - sod the fact that the boiler is about to explode and the electrics need a fortune spend on them.

LumelaMme Mon 23-Jan-17 19:34:53

*150%. Not 1505.

quietbatperson Mon 23-Jan-17 19:43:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Laska5772 Mon 23-Jan-17 19:46:04

Usually if you are working on it they wont do that , but check with your local empty property officer . if you move some furniture in and stay over there sometimes, (and its not a 2nd home) you should be ok . But you will need to pay council tax as a resident frpm day one. ( but you'd do that anyway wouldnt you? ) ...

Penhacked Mon 23-Jan-17 20:10:23

Any toilets, sinks or baths will not have been used so the drains may smell where the water has evaporated. You should just be able to put some mr muscle down to fix it though.

I second it takes an age to heat it at this time of year. Just moved into somewhere that stood empty and we are in week three and it is finally getting warm!!!

Notanotherpawpatrol Mon 23-Jan-17 20:33:56

We'd be moving straight in smile it's habitable. It needs very minimal work doing, which is why I'm worried about the hidden disasters!

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