Home Money Checklist of what to look out for when viewing an older property to buy

Checklist of what to look out for when viewing an older property to buy

by Elijah
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We take a look at the potentially expensive costs you need to consider when viewing an older property.

Older homes may have great curb appeal, such as architectural wood beams and decorative windows.

But it’s often these same features in older properties that can cause problems for home buyers, who may end up with larger repair bills than they expected once they move in.

So if you’re looking to buy a vintage property, what are the signs you should look for during a viewing to ensure you don’t miss out on any impending costs?

We take a look at the potentially expensive costs you need to consider when viewing an older property.

We take a look at the potentially expensive costs you need to consider when viewing an older property.

We talked to experts about what to look for to try to avoid a nasty moving bill, or at least be prepared and know what work you need to budget for.

They explain that older properties are likely to need more repair and maintenance and therefore more money will be spent on them.

In fact, research last year suggested that 3.5 million properties are classed as substandard.

Findings from The Health Foundation found that while 14 per cent of all homes in England are classed as not decent, 32 per cent of homes built before 1919 are classed as not decent.

If you spot features that require money to repair, you’ll at least begin your home purchase with your eyes open and, hopefully, fully prepared.

Experts recommend learning as much as possible about the materials and processes of the construction company when buying a house.

Experts recommend learning as much as possible about the materials and processes of the construction company when buying a house.

Experts recommend learning as much as possible about the materials and processes of the construction company when buying a house.

Bradley Mackenzie, of Stokemont Chartered Surveyors, said: “While many older houses have attractive period-specific elements that are aesthetically pleasing and could add value to the property, others come with a myriad of unwanted setbacks.”

‘When contemplating any home built to standard requirements, find out as much as you can about the construction company’s materials, workmanship and processes.

‘Although an older home may be more durablely built and have a more attractive architectural style, most pre-1940 homes suffer from damage, furry friends, and can cause a significant loss to your pocketbook.

“Conducting thorough inspections before investing is key to preparing your new old home.”

The appeal of old homes lies in their potential for restoration and improvement, allowing homeowners to combine historic charm with modern conveniences.

The appeal of old homes lies in their potential for restoration and improvement, allowing homeowners to combine historic charm with modern conveniences.

The appeal of old homes lies in their potential for restoration and improvement, allowing homeowners to combine historic charm with modern conveniences.

Amy Reynolds, of Richmond estate agency Antony Roberts, said: “A period house, especially one in need of restoration, presents a unique opportunity for owners to breathe new life into a piece of history while adding their personal touch.”

‘While it is crucial to conduct a full survey and address any structural concerns this highlights, it is essential not to panic prematurely.

‘Unlike new builds, period homes have stood the test of time and may require different maintenance approaches.

Unlike new builds, period homes have stood the test of time and may require different maintenance approaches.

Amy Reynolds – real estate agent

‘Bringing in independent experts, such as roofers, plumbers and electricians, can provide valuable information about the true condition of the property and help buyers make informed decisions.

‘In my experience, many buyers who were initially hesitant due to the survey results ultimately proceeded with the purchase after gaining a more complete understanding of the property’s needs.

‘For example, by connecting buyers with reputable roofers for thorough assessments, we were able to clarify the scope of repairs needed and negotiate accordingly. In some cases minimal intervention was necessary, while others benefited from targeted renovations.’

He adds: ‘Ultimately, the appeal of period houses lies in their potential for restoration and improvement, allowing owners to combine historic charm with modern conveniences.

‘In my opinion (and as the owner of a period house that has required extensive works) the satisfaction of revitalizing a period property and making it your own far outweighs any initial concerns.

“Period houses are usually located in communities that have been built up over time and you are buying a piece of history.”

“Conducting thorough inspections before investing is key to preparing your new old home.”

What to look for when viewing an older property…

1. Structural issues

While an older property may seem sturdier than some newer homes, it may still be prone to structural problems.

These problems include cracks, moisture damage, dry rot, uneven walls, and even stuck windows.

It means not being shy about asking to open the windows during the visit and checking that they are in good working order.

It’s worth taking these steps during your visit, as you don’t want to be stuck with a big bill when you move.

Repairing structural problems can be expensive, with a typical cost of around £13,500, according to separate research by Unbiased.

Therefore, it is essential to carry out two thorough inspections to identify any problems as soon as possible.

And any repair costs can be factored into the buyer’s offer price, or you can ask the seller to fix the problems before agreeing to buy.

2. Secret pests

As a buyer prepares to move into their new home, they should consider that there may still be residents who do not plan to move.

But these residents are much smaller, louder, and more disruptive than perhaps expected.

They are wood-destroying insects, which are one of the worst, since they can compromise the construction of the building.

However, there are other pests to watch out for, including termites, which can damage wood and wood products.

And overwintering insects, such as cluster flies, boxelder bugs, carpet beetles, stink bugs and ladybugs, come in to avoid the winter weather.

There are carpenter ants that build nests in soft, damp or dead wood.

And vertebrate pests, including rodents, birds and other urban wildlife, which can damage the structure, chew on power lines and introduce other pests, such as fleas, ticks and mites.

Depending on the type of pest, prices may vary. For example, treating and repairing wood-boring insects could cost around £1,000, while exterminating rats could cost £180, according to StokemontEdit.

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3. Roof Hazards

Older homes can often suffer from deteriorating roofs, which can lead to a number of problems such as infestations, water damage, or ineffective insulation.

The cost of repairing a compromised roof could start from £100 and go up to £7,000 to repair, according to Stokemont.

Some of the most common indicators are missing or damaged shingles, crumbling roof cement, bowed or sagging gutters, persistent moisture in the attic, evidence of water damage on upper floors, or bugs in the attic or crawl spaces above.

As such, it is important to have access to a roof space, whether during a property viewing or if a surveyor is assessing the property before purchasing.

4. Exposure to mold and mildew

Properties exposed to moisture often develop mold and mildew, especially in bathrooms, although growth can occur anywhere.

It is particularly common in older homes because moisture can seep through cracks, leak holes, and pipes.

However, because it can start within the walls, you are more likely to walk through an older, mold-infested property without realizing the problem exists.

Uncontrolled growth can increase allergies and respiratory problems in both children and adults, so it is recommended to treat the property as soon as possible.

5. Fights for storage space

Extravagant features often found in older properties include sloping floors and patterned ceilings, features that can make adding storage space difficult.

While this may not seem like a priority at first, buyers may find it difficult to purchase certain items at home in the long term.

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