5 things to consider before buying a property

Our lord Jesus Christ was born at Christmas over 2,000 years ago in a stable. So much has changed since then. If the Nativity story had taken place today, what would it look like?

Mary (heavily pregnant) and Joseph arrive by car in the city in the evening and look for accommodation for the night. There is a big festival (read “census”) going on in town and all the hotels (“inns” in the original) are full.

In desperation they decide to spend the night in an underground car park (“stable” in the original) in their saloon. Later that evening, baby Jesus is born in the car and placed under a blanket on the back seat (“crib” in the original).

At this point we’ll leave the story – stand ins for the three wise men and a bunch of shepherds are difficult to find in the 21st century – and we’ll turn our attention to the buildings.

The stable and the car park serve similar functions as places to keep your means of transport (be that horse or car) secure and sheltered. But building techniques in Anno Domini 1 would have been very different from today. Mud walls and thatched roofs would have needed a lot more repair and maintenance than a present-day concrete structure.

Properties from biblical times are admittedly hard to come by in the UK, but the principle remains the same – the older the building, the greater the bills. Before parting with lots of hard-earned cash on your dream home, it makes sense to get some idea of the likely ongoing costs of ownership.

Your solicitor, as part of the conveyancing process, will do “searches” to reveal any restrictions imposed by the title deeds, Conservation Area status, ground rents payable, and pending planning applications in the area, any of which may affect the property.

Your mortgage provider will require a survey to ensure the value of the property more than covers the amount lent, but unfortunately you don’t get to see a copy. So, unless you take professional advice, you are on your own making the decision to buy or not to buy. With that said, here are:

5 things to consider before buying a property

1. Does it suit my needs?
Unless you are buying just to get a foot on the property ladder, your new house should tick most of the boxes, in terms of the accommodation itself, the garden and the location. If it doesn’t, then you are probably looking at re-configuring the room layout, building an extension or otherwise making a huge mistake. If major works are to be done, you must make sure you have the funds to pay for them.

2. What about location?
What constitutes an ideal location will depend on your lifestyle. Do you need quick access to public transport? Will you be bringing children up in the area? And if so, what are Ofsted ratings for local schools? Does it tick the boxes for shops, amenities and proximity to work?

3.Is the building structurally sound?
Consider whether the roof and chimney are in good condition. The lifespan of a flat roof is always much less than a pitch roof. Is the brickwork or rendering sound? Are there any cracks in the walls that might suggest subsidence? Are wooden window frames, external doors, soffits and fascias showing any signs of rot? Are all load bearing timbers free of rot?

4.Does the interior need any major work?
Is the damp course doing its job? Will the kitchen and/or the bathroom need ripping out and modernising? Do the carpets and floor coverings need replacing? Does the wall and loft insulation need upgrading? Is there double glazing throughout? Is the plasterwork on walls and ceilings still good? Is the property clean? And what about the standard of decoration?

5.What’s the condition of the garden?
What is the soil type? Clay is prone to subsidence, which could cause damage to the house. Is the area prone to flooding? Getting insurance may be a problem. Is the garden the right size? Does it need a lot of immediate attention? Are the perimeter fences/walls in good condition? Is there off street parking? Is it overlooked?

For sure, you will be able to answer many of the questions above yourself, but on the technical stuff you will probably struggle. If you get it wrong, there could be significant extra costs involved long after you’ve made your purchase.

So for peace of mind about the property’s condition and whether it is reasonably priced, it’s a wise move to seek independent expert advice from reputable building surveyors. And that’s where we can gladly help.

For more information about our surveying services, get in touch today by calling 01273 031 646.

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Tate Surveying Services,
Freedom Works, Unit 7 Hove Business Centre, Fonthill Road, Hove, BN3 6HA

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