It’s likely to be the biggest investment you’ll ever make and viewing so many houses can be overwhelming at times. To make things that little bit easier, use this house viewing checklist to understand what you need to look out for when buying a new property.
Top tip: Before you go – print out your floor plan and map out what goes where (super handy when planning how you’ll setup your rooms once you’re in!).
House electrics, heating and appliances
It’s easy to forget to check whether essential heating, electrics, and appliances are in working order when you’re viewing a house, so be sure to test out each of the following:
- Light switches – don’t be shy, turn them on and off!
- Power sockets – make sure they’re all intact and not damaged (but don’t touch!)
- Taps and the toilet flush – run the water and check around for any signs of leaks
- Radiators – are they in good condition?
- Check the boiler position, age, and service history – do you need to budget for a new boiler?
- Integrated kitchen appliances (cooker, microwave, dishwasher, etc.)
What to check in each room
While you’re wandering around your potential new home, take a look at the:
- Doors – do they open and close easily? Do the locks work?
- Windows – are they single/double/triple glazing? (And how old are they?)
- Decor – what condition is each room in? Does it need a lick of paint or a complete overhaul?
- Flooring – have things been moved to hide stains? Is it in good condition?
- Damp/mould/condensation – look (and smell) in corners and wardrobes
- Cracks in walls/ceiling – How big are they? Have they been painted over? This may need a builder.
- How much storage is there? Can you easily store your towels, duvets and clothes?
Outside and the garden
- Is the garden private or shared? (If it’s shared, are there any fees?)
- How much work or maintenance is required?
- What direction does it face? (A south-facing garden will get more sun)
- Are you overlooked by neighbouring properties?
- Where are the legal boundaries of the property?
Exterior brickwork and roofing
- Note down the age of the property
- Does anything look very worn or broken i.e. bricks, guttering?
- Roof tiles – can you see if any are missing or cracked?
- Are the chimneys straight?
- Drains and guttering – are they clogged up? Tip: on a rainy day, take a road-trip to the house and take a look
Local area and property access
A spot of research never hurt anyone, so get online and take a look at some of these:
- What are the local schools like?
- Public transport links
- What’s your work commute like during rush hour?
- Noise levels (both day and night) – may be worth visiting at different periods of the day
- Local shops and amenities – is there a doctors closeby, perhaps a pharmacy and supermarket?
- Are the neighbours friendly? Don’t be frightened to ask
- The crime rate in the local area
If you’re happy with what you’ve seen so far, then take a look at the smaller details, like:
- Check the energy performance certificate (EPC)
- Planning permission documents for any work that’s been done
- Check the home report, if you’re buying in Scotland
You should consider any additional costs that can be incurred once you’ve purchased the property. It may be useful to ask the seller about the following costs:
- Council tax
- Water bills
- Buildings and contents insurance
- Gas and electricity bills
There’s so much to think about already, but here’s a few more that could be handy for your second viewing:
- Burglar and fire alarms – are there any, and are they working? Does it cost extra to run?
- Broadband and TV connections – what do the sellers use already, and is the connection good?
- Mobile phone coverage – while you’re wandering around, check your phone for signal strength!
- Is there scope to add value to your investment i.e. extending/renovating
- Fireplaces – does it have one and does the chimney work?
- Loft access and size; is there potential for conversion? Do they have a ladder?
- Insulation – cavity walls and in the loft
- When was the consumer unit/fuse box last checked? How old is it?
- Is it in a conservation area or a listed building? – This might affect whether you can make changes (and your insurance price!)
- Compare the selling price to other properties in the area – it’ll help you haggle for the best price
If you’re searching for a new property, remember to take along this house viewing checklist – remember to arm yourself to the teeth with information and make a considered choice.