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Moving into a house that's been empty for a year

22 replies

SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 08:09

Is there an easy checklist to go over?
Has anyone done this?
The house was lived in until September last year and has stood empty since.
Should I book a plumber and electrician to check everything?
The water has been turned off, but I'm not sure if the gas has been capped.
It's being sold by a third party so we won't have contact with the family who lived there before, and said third party is unlikely to know much.
I think I'm mainly asking how much of a nightmare it's going to be. I can work with the boiler not working, as long as the electricity works and I can use small electric heaters until it's fixed, but if both are off, I'm unsure what I will do.
We'll have a month before we have to vacate our rented property but ideally I'd like not to leave the move until the last minute.
What are your experiences of doing this?

OP posts:
sandgrown · 16/09/2017 08:18

Moved in a house that had been empty for two years. Had to move piles of post.! Contact utilities to get connected before you move in if possible. Be careful that they don't try and charge you for outstanding debt from previous owner. Might be worth paying for a gas safety check ? You should be able to turn the water on at the stopcock. Be prepared for lots of spiders!

mateysmum · 16/09/2017 08:32

You are lucky to have an overlap, so you can avoid the pitfalls.

First thing is probably the utilities. You should have been informed who was the last provider for gas/elec/water/telecomms. Once you have access, check what is/is not working in the property. Contact the utility company of your choice and get the property supplied in your name.

You might find some taps are a bit stiff and I would definitely run the water for a few minutes before you have a drink. If you have a cold water tank in the loft, I would make sure that is drained and refllled as the water will be very stale. Might be worth taking a peak at it to make sure nothing has died in there. (Preferably get your other half to do this).

I think it's up to you if you want somebody to check all the utilities/appliances in the house. Unless you have cause to think there might be a problem immediately, I would probably just turn things on and see what happens! - but be ready to turn off again.

Do you know when the boiler was last serviced? Might be worth having that done anyway, but first you need the gas in your name.

sourpatchkid · 16/09/2017 08:34

Get the heating on as soon as possible - it took our (old building) home months to properly warm up after being left so long.

Check drainpipes - ours were stuffed solid with leaves

SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 08:35

Thanks! I might get one of those spider grabber things in preparation - or maybe one for each of us.

The post isn't too bad as I've viewed it a bunch of times and stacked post up on the coffee table that's been thoughtfully left for the new owner.

It will definitely need some love. It's an older house anyway, and I'm saving up for work I know we'll have to do, but I'm just curious about how much to try and save for unknown works. I've never tried to use a boiler that's been unused for a year, for example.

I sometimes have to support house moves in my work, and have dealt with power companies for people who don't speak English. If it's enough to nearly make me cry doing it for someone else, I should definitely add it to my list when I'm moving myself. I googled though and I'm not sure you can sign up to a new utilities company before you're in possession of the property. I hate that the timing of this move means I'm going to miss out on all the good fixed rates for energy.

OP posts:
SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 08:37

I will have to be the 'other half' checking for dead things - that's a good point. The survey found a water tank in the attic but I'm not sure if it's still in use. Either way, dead thing removal sounds like a plan. I've done that when I used to have to clean a pony's water trough out. But maybe I was hardier then.

The gutters are beyond clogged. Will need to sort that before the winter. There's practically shrubs in one of them.

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SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 08:38

When I viewed, I couldn't see a servicing sticker. I think the boiler's around 5 years old from the looks of it.
The quantity surveyor was v keen to price up a new boiler but I'd rather hold off until I find out whether it works.

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curlylocks101 · 16/09/2017 08:41

We did this last year - I think PPs have covered everything we did. I'd definitely get the boiler serviced and possibly get an electrician to do safety checks, depending on the type of house, how old it all is etc. Wouldn't worry about a plumber though unless you find a problem. I agree about the spiders!

SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 09:06

Thanks, everyone!

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AppleBosom · 16/09/2017 09:34

mice. lay traps because i guarantee you have some.

specialsubject · 16/09/2017 09:41

The clogged gutters need doing now, rain will be pouring on to the walls and causing damage.

somewhereovertherain · 16/09/2017 09:43

And if it's been empty for two years you can get a vat reduction on any building work etc

SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 09:59

Yep the walls are really suffering and I think the basement is too, a bit.
It's annoying not being able to get in and maintain it - the current owner has done nothing, and probably the previous resident did some big jobs but it seems like they didn't go through the whole house looking for problem areas outside and inside and resolve them.
The owner before that seems to have had it for 25 years and done zero maintenance.
Or very little, anyway - it's possible they did clean the gutters otherwise there might be actual trees in there. They kept the garden nice.

OP posts:
mateysmum · 16/09/2017 10:14

Hmm, now you've said a bit more, I agree that you should get the boiler serviced. Probably won't cost much and if the house is damp (which it will be if the walls and basement are wet), you will need to put a lot of -expensive heat and ventilation into the house to make it properly habitable.
As pp have said, clearing the gutters and drainpipes needs to be a priority or the condition of the house will deteriorate and will not be pleasant to live in. Is the roof sound? Does the pointing need doing?

Are the electrics up to modern standards? If so, then they are probably ok. If the fuse box is one of those really ancient ones, then I would get it checked. A house not being lived in for a year shouldn't be an issue. A house not being maintained for years is a much bigger potential problem. teaches OP to suck eggs.

MiaowTheCat · 16/09/2017 10:19

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 10:24

Roof's fine on the main part of the house - had a structural survey and a damp/timber survey although haven't had an actual roofer out on the top of it. No signs of damp coming in from above - the biggest alarm bells are ringing due to gutters.
It's a sandstone house and nothing weird has been done to it (see above - no maintenance) so it seems to be breathing.

And yes - should maybe have mentioned that it looks like not much has been done, or done well, before it was vacated.

I already have a list of money-pit problems to sort out - it's hopefully not that bad compared to some I've lived in/sorted out, but that's been with family - this will be the first time I've done it myself.

I do think it will ultimately need a rewire. The sockets are placed quite low in the room. In a perfect world it'd be nice to rewire before moving in, but I don't think this will be possible. When I've viewed, everything that I've tested has turned on/worked.

A new kitchen and I think probably new bathroom was installed in about 2013/14.

I can do pointing myself if I can reach it (spent the summer doing that elsewhere) but it seems fine, to be honest, and looks to have been done using decent materials.

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ocelot41 · 16/09/2017 10:24

Ours was empty for a year before we moved in. We found a major moth infestation. It was a right pain to have to pack everything back up again, fumigate and then unpack again. So I would say check for moths (and other unwelcome visitors) before you start unpacking!

SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 11:10

Oh god moths - yes. That was not on my list. I would actually die. I love natural fibres. I have yarn and lovely fabric and wool rugs and cashmere jumpers and all sorts of things. How horrendous for you! ::googles how to check for moths::

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mateysmum · 16/09/2017 11:26

Good luck with the renovations. You should have a lovely home by the time you've finished. If you can do your own pointing, you sound like somebody who won't be phased by what you might find. I bow to you!!

ocelot41 · 16/09/2017 11:57

Big fuck off holes in carpet are the biggest give away. Esp under furniture. Usually a bug bomb or two will sort it. It was so bad in this house we had to fumigate. Check for rats and mice while you are at it!

WhereAmIGoingWhatAmIDoing · 16/09/2017 11:59

Our very old house was empty for six months and had a serious moth infestation too! I would check thoroughly for signs of this. We had to replace all carpets and get some one in to spray. Not many spiders luckily, maybe they would have helped with the infection if they were here!

Also house took a few weeks to warm up and was damp from not being aired. We had to use a dehumidifier for a bit, just to warm and dry it up .


SuperLoudPoppingAction · 16/09/2017 12:26

The carpets seem fine but I think they're synthetic.

I was wondering about hanging some moth traps about to see what I find in them.

I'm not sure the house will be finished for a while due to annex on the back (older than actual house) which needs a lot of work, but as long as there's space we can live in, I'll be happy.
Especially if my wooly things can remain intact.

I lived in a rural property that ended up infested by mice. They were bringing in grain from nearby fields, making little stores in unused drawers or under beds and snuggling in, chewing up bedding and clothes for a cosy nest. It only stopped when I got a dog who ate them.

See, this is why I needed this thread. I've got so many big projects in my head I'm forgetting about the basics. Thanks again!

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ocelot41 · 19/09/2017 17:49

Just to be on the safe side, I would invest in some breathable zip up bags. Esp if you have cashmere!

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