Wednesday, 18 October 2017

House hunting - things to look out for

We've lived in our house for 11 years now and it's amazing to think about everything that has happened in that time and everything we have done to this place we call home.

I remember when we started looking for a house; we were living in a flat and had no idea what to look for, what we could afford or all the different things we would have to consider. Everyone knows that buying a house, then making it how you want, can be a long and expensive process. 



* Collaborative post

Two of our best friends are going through this right now as they start their journey to being homeowners for the first time. They found a house that they loved and that was going to be a fixer-upper, but upon closer inspection, there was a lot more to it than they first thought. They paid for several surveys to be done and they revealed a greater level of work than they had anticipated - to make the house safe and / or liveable. In the end, the list and associated costs proved too great to they have let this house go and their hunt has resumed. They've learnt a lot through the process but it hasn't been easy.


I wasn't a huge help, as I'm not all that great when it comes to the practical things about home ownership - I like all the decorating and finishing touches, not the technical aspects!


We've done a fair bit to our house since we moved in and last year, we did one of our biggest projects to date when we ripped out an old fireplace and brick surround, leaving a hole in our external wall. We had some plasterers come around to quote for this and, whilst they were here, my husband asked about covering some artex we have in a couple of rooms on the roof. We were quite shocked when we were told that in some houses, when removing features such as this, asbestos can be found and that really, given the age of our house and how long this detailing would have been there for, we should have it removed to be on the safe side.


I had no idea and was quite surprised to receive this advice - and it goes to show that no matter how long you live somewhere, that there could be all kinds of (not so nice) surprises lurking behind the walls. I've since read advice that artex coatings only contain small amounts of asbestos and that the fibres are well bonded, but still, it really does make you think.





If you're buying a property that has been around for some time, as you would expect there are probably going to be a few more things that you need to check before you buy, than you would for a new build house.

From my own experience, these are some areas you may want to consider or keep an eye out for - and make sure you ask the owner PLENTY of questions, so there aren't any nasty surprises after you sign on the dotted line...

Structural issues

Older homes can suffer from subsidence, there can be issues with the foundations and sometimes you may encounter bulging or collapsing walls. Always worth asking an expert for their opinion. Many homes may have cracked walls and there could be different causes behind that crack, some are more artificial and some will be more serious.

Wiring and plumbing

Who knows what's going on behind the walls? When we did our big lounge makeover, we uncovered all kinds of issues with the electrical wiring and it caused real problems with us replacing wall lights. Some of our plug sockets were also poorly installed and this added some time and cost to our renovation plans.

Likewise, when we had our boiler replaced, we discovered a water tank that wasn't doing anything and a radiator that wasn't connected at all. Both could be removed and we ended up with more space - so do check to see if there's any areas that need addressing.

Dampen your spirits


Damp can be a real problem and if it's not addressed, it can spread and become a serious issue. Dampness occurs when there is too much moisture in the structure of a building, caused by an intrusion from outside the house or from condensation that has been built up from the inside. Leaks can also mean that rain enters your house to cause surface damage in less severe instances, and rising damp can be common on older, less well-maintained properties.

Be asbestos aware

If you have bought a house before, you will no doubt be much more clued up about what to look for, and prepared to do your research. However, there can be less obvious issues, such asbestos, and the potential health risk and expense associated with this kind of problem can be overlooked, just as many people won't know what to look for and and house surveys don’t tend to include asbestos testing as standard.



Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance that can lead to serious health conditions years after exposure. Before 1999, asbestos was used for a variety of purposes, from adhesives to decorative features, and therefore it could be found in many parts of a property. A house built between 1940 and 1980 is most likely to have an element that may contain asbestos - anyone inherit the artex decorative plaster in their home, like the picture above?

Your Legal Friend offer asbestos claims to help people who have been affected by this health concern, and this blog post is full of additional advice so you can be sure of what to look for when you are house hunting. After all, it's much better to be aware and to check things out fully rather than to take a risk and find an unexpected, and expensive or risky, surprise.
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