Why you must check a property’s condition before you buy!

When we are buying a home, part of the stress is because we are normally moving due to a major event in our lives. This might be for good reasons: an expanding family, new job or needing and being able to afford more space. However, it may well be due to tough reasons too, such as getting divorced, being in debt or the loss of a loved one.

As a result, when trying to buy a home during a major life event, good or bad, we often don’t necessarily concentrate on the important fact that when buying you aren’t buying a home initially, you are buying a building you plan to make your home.

The building you have fallen in love with may be in a fantastic location, it may have the perfect space or be the only one you can currently afford and it may look in good condition, but unfortunately very few of us are in a position to assess a property’s real condition. This is why it’s important to get the experts in to check a property ideally before you make an offer or as soon as an offer has been accepted and absolutely before exchanging.

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Buying a property to let
This is especially true if you intend to make money from letting property. To let a property legally these days requires adhering to 145 rules and regulations. Although not all of these are based on the condition of the property, many are.

29 of the rules and regulations you need to adhere to are based on the ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System’. This is a nationwide requirement to make sure tenants are renting a property which is warm, free of mould and damp and without dangers such as tripping downstairs due to frayed carpets or falling because of poorly laid paving stones.

Other rules and regulations required include annual gas checks and, although a grey area legally, your duty is to ensure the electrics are “safe”.

From a landlord’s perspective, you can easily spend thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds making a property that someone has happily lived in for years achieve the letting standards required.

So if buying to let, make sure you have at least a condition survey from a Residential Property Surveyors Association (www.rpsa.org.uk) or a Royal Institution Chartered Surveyor (RICS) as well as gas and electrical safety checks. In addition, also check the drains and make sure anything the survey has raised is investigated further, such as timber and damp issues or problems with the roof.

Only then will you truly know if it’s a good buy or a disaster which will constantly be eating into any excess income you earn from letting the property.

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Buying a property for you
If you are buying a property for you and your family, the temptation is to save as much on buying the property as you can so you can spend the money on more exciting things such as a new kitchen, bathroom or both. Or you may have ideas of making it into a beautiful interior designed masterpiece.

The problem comes though when things start to go wrong you didn’t know about. A leaky roof or guttering can soon damage your newly decorated property and end up costing you a fortune rather than using problems raised by a survey to reduce the amount you pay for the property in the first place.

And if you think about it, if gas and electrical checks are required for tenants safety, then surely it is worth making sure your family is safe too? The boiler fitted might look new, but if it wasn’t fitted by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and doesn’t have the right certificates, it could be dangerous and harmful to your family.

So whether you are buying for yourself or for a tenant, make sure you first check out the building you are buying before you purchase the property you want to make your home.

For expert help checking out your property visit Checkatrade

Kate Faulkner

Design on Property Ltd

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