Feature: 11 Things to Look For When Viewing a House

Detached House in North West, UK

By James Douglas, Estate & Lettings Agents

When you go to view a house, whether online or in-person, the chances are that you will have a short period of time to decide if you’re interested in it. Although you can get a feel for a place, it’s crucial that you make an informed decision before you go through with the purchase. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of our top things to look out for when you are viewing and buying a house. 

1. Is It Damp?

This one might seem obvious but it bears repeating: is it damp? Having damp in your home can make you more susceptible to respiratory problems and allergies, as well as cause structural damage over time. The main giveaways of damp are a mould smell, flaking plaster, and watermarked walls or ceilings. 

2. Is It Structurally Sound?

Off the back of that, is the house structurally sound? Look for big cracks, in particular those in outside walls and internal load bearing walls, and ask the homeowner or estate agent about them. If needed, you can ask a surveyor to investigate later (someone who is trained to spot risks). 

3. How’s the Roof?

When viewing a property, look up! Replacing a roof is expensive, so make sure you check for tiles that show signs of rotting, moss or mildew; for cracked, damaged or curled shingles; and for any other signs of damage or discoloration. 

4. Plumbing

Turn the taps on to check the water pressure, and ask some key questions about the plumbing. How old is the boiler? When was it last serviced? Where is the water tank? How long does it take for hot water to come through? Do the radiators and pipes work well? 

5. Electrics

Do the electrics work? Do the built-in oven, fridge and stove work? Are there any exposed or broken wires? Is there a shaver socket?

You should also ask about electricity bills and warranties on electrical items.

6. Windows

Are the window frames cracked or rotting? Is there condensation? This could indicate poor insulation, which means you’ll need to invest in new, double-glazed windows. 

If the windows have them, do the locks work and are there keys? Do they open and close easily? These things might seem obvious, but it’s a must-check for homeowners to be. 

7. Floors 

Is the flooring in good condition? In older houses, the joists that support the floorboards can become damp, rot and cause the floor to collapse. Look out for a springy floor and/or a damp and musty smell in each room. 

You should also look for carefully placed rugs or furniture that might be concealing floor damage. 

8. Location

Perhaps another obvious one, but you need to be sure on the location before you move into a new house. Is it near enough to work, school, and the shops? Are there good roads and/or public transportation links? Is there too much, or too little, countryside? Are you underneath a flight path, or near another noisy place? 

In short, will you be comfortable there? Does it fulfil what you’re looking for in both function and form? Try to define your perfect location prior to viewing a house, so you can see how well prospective properties match up to that. 

Top Tip: Drive around the neighbourhood before or after your viewing to see how you feel about the area. 

9. Is It Soundproof?

We’ve started to touch on this, but it’s worth stressing: is there adequate soundproofing if the house needs it? You shouldn’t be able to hear the bar outside or your neighbour’s conversation if it can be helped. 

You should also be aware if the house is on a traffic-heavy road, and/or near a school where there will be lots of school runs. 

10. Storage

Storage space is often overlooked when people are viewing a house. Yes you might be able to get all of your furniture in, but is there room for the stuff that isn’t on display? Have you got room for your hoover, cleaning supplies, towels and other junk? Will all your clothes fit in the built-in wardrobe?

Off the back of that, will all your furniture fit in? Assuming you won’t be buying all new furniture as soon as you move in, will your existing furniture fit?

11. Mobile Service

Don’t get caught out by no, or poor, mobile service. Take out your mobile phone and check your data connection and signal in the area, and in each room of the house.