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What should be fixed in a house before I buy it?

No house is perfect, of course – let’s get that straight. Even new homes might be subject to various minor issues.

However, you should undoubtedly fix some problems before committing to the sale by exchanging keys.

A home survey from a chartered surveyor is the best way to be aware of these defects and to know the potential repair costs and consequences of leaving them.

In this article, let’s consider a few of the most common things that should be fixed in a house before you buy it – or as soon as possible after you move in.

Subsidence

Subsidence is a big one, which is why we’ve put it at the start of this list. The ground underneath a home shrinking is potentially a serious cause for concern. In worst-case scenarios, it can put undue stress on specific parts of the building and lead to collapse.

Crucially, a house with an ongoing subsidence issue will be essentially impossible to mortgage, as lenders will (rightly) consider it too large a risk.

Even a house with historic subsidence will be notably more difficult to get a mortgage for.

As such, you should be extra cautious about proceeding with a sale if the surveyor finds signs of subsidence. It might still be possible, but you’ll probably have to go through the cash purchase option.

Your surveyor will give you an honest opinion about how you should proceed – or whether you should abandon the buy.

Roof leaks

Parts of the roof can be damaged, destroyed or removed by weather or wildlife. This allows nature straight into the building.

The biggest issue caused by roof problems is damp: the rain, of course, is simply dripping straight into the loft or top floor, leading to damp (see below). As the damp builds up, it’ll cause more problems such as rot, mould and mildew.

A surveyor will ask the current homeowner’s permission to climb into the loft and inspect it to detect roof leaks. They’ll also try to find a nearby vantage point from which they can view the roof tiles clearly. Inside the house, there may also be evidence of water or mould descending from above.

Before buying a home, roof leaks should be thoroughly investigated, as they may lead to further damp problems and potentially nesting birds or insects.

It’s usually worth asking the seller to fix the damage before purchasing the property. Alternatively, you might consider reducing your offer to cover the repair costs. 

Damp

Damp refers to the general presence of moisture in the air, or dampness. English speakers are a creative bunch.

Unfortunately, damp is one of the most commonly seen problems in our little island nation.

Damp can be caused by almost anything involving water – roof leaks (as above), burst pipes, improper ventilation in bathrooms or kitchens, water tank problems, drain leaks, and so on.

By itself, it’s not the end of the world, but damp leads to more severe problems such as rot and mould. Wet rot (an umbrella term referring to many fungal species) eats away at timber, leading to superficial or even – in severe cases – structural damage.

Any unprotected timber that comes into contact with moisture is at risk of wet rot.

Luckily, damp isn’t often a dealbreaker. It can be managed and even wholly eradicated in many cases. For example, burst pipes can be fixed, holes in roofs can be patched, and efficient ventilation (such as opening windows, extractor fans and dehumidifiers) can remove damp problems for good.

Before moving into a home, you should carefully check for any rot. A chartered surveyor will let you know if there are any signs of this and give you tailored advice on what to do next.

Faulty electrics or plumbing

Water, gas and electricity are things we all take for granted in the 21st Century.

When these go wrong, though, you could suddenly find yourself with an enormous repair bill. Replumbing a house can cost between £13,000 and £17,000, according to Check a Trade.

Rewiring an average three-bedroom home might cost anything between £3,000 and £6,000 (also from Check a Trade).

With numbers this high, we don’t think it’s ever worth the risk.

A chartered surveyor will visually inspect – but not test – services for issues and defects during a home survey. They’ll also watch out for any evidence of electrical sparking, old plug sockets or burst pipes.

Although a surveyor will give you advice specific to your situation, the cost for rewiring or replumbing is often so huge that many buyers reconsider their position.

As many faults can be masked or hidden, we’d recommend that testing be carried out by a competent tradesperson in addition to your home survey if there’s no recent test certificate, just for your own peace of mind.

How can GB Home Surveys help you?

During a home survey, a professional RICS registered chartered surveyor inspects a home, usually on behalf of the prospective buyer. They’ll note down any faults or problems that need immediate attention, as well as those that are likely to develop over time.

As mentioned throughout this article, you could ask the seller to fix many of these issues. Alternatively, you might lower your offer or, in some cases, pull out of the sale altogether. The choice is yours, but a surveyor will be there to guide you and help you whenever you need it.

Buying a new house is a considerable investment, and so putting money into a home survey makes excellent financial sense for most people.

At GB Home Surveys, we pride ourselves on delivering fast, professional services (you can expect your report no more than a week after the inspection). All our surveyors are RICS members with years of experience and qualifications to their names.

For more information on the different types of RICS home surveys offered, head on over to our Choose Your Survey page. Or, if you’d like to have a chat with us more directly, feel free to email us at contact@gbhomesurveys.co.uk or phone us on 03333 600 685.

Looking for a quote, or maybe you have a question? Get in touch today.

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