Inspect/Choose the Property

Basic Things to Look out For Before Buying
Here are some basic things to check over before making that offer:

  • See if there is a shared driveway and find out about the people you will be sharing with.

  • If there is a swimming pool, make sure it is properly fenced according to regulations.

  • If the purchase price includes electrical appliances such as stove, dishwasher, etc, make sure they work properly and are in good order.

  • Make sure an experienced electrician checks out the wiring of the house.

  • Obtain a list of all the items included with the property. It's a good idea to have this list of chattels as part of the agreement so everyone understands what's been sold on the day.

  • Check that the boundary fences are properly located and that the boundary pegs can be seen.

  • If part of the deal includes the seller undertaking repairs or improvements to the property, make sure all this is done before settlement.

  • Check what happens to the telephone. Will it stay there and can the number be taken over, or will a new phone be installed? Also check if the phone is rented or owned by the vendor.

  • Your lawyer will check the rates and other charges to make sure they are paid up to date and if not they will be taken into account in the final settlement.

  • Make your arrangements for insurance so that on the day you sign over for settlement and receive the transfer of the property, insurance cover will commence.

  • Make sure your mortgage financing is in place and that settlement will go through without any hitches.

  • Make sure you get a full investigation of the property by an experienced builder or building inspector who will check the soil, the structure and foundations. He/she will also check the roofing and walls, and other important areas that are to always seen from the outside.

  • Check that the water pressure is okay and that all the drains work. Check all the taps and if gas is used, make sure there are no leaks around the pipes or the metre.

  • Check the gardens and be happy with how they are set out and that there will not be a great expense in redeveloping the garden if it's starting to look worn.

Carry out a Do-it-yourself Inspection

It's important that you inspect the property you want to purchase so that you will not be surprised by any costly repairs. As already suggested, a builder or building inspector should be engaged to do a thorough inspection of the property, inside and out.

However, there are some things you can do yourself and the following list will help you:

Inside the house:

  • Check that all floors are level and that there are no gaps between the floor and skirting boards.
  • Look for signs of rising damp, including rotting carpet, mould on the walls, ceiling and musty odours.
  • Jump up and down on the wooden floorboards to check their stability.
  • Check the walls and ceilings for warping and cracks. Fresh paint or wallpaper may be hiding problem areas. (Always be suspicious of fresh paint or wallpaper.)
  • Make sure all the lights work and the switches are in good order. Also check each power point by using a power point tester, which can be bought from hardware stores at a low cost.
  • Check that all the doors and windows are square. Jamming may indicate that there could be structural problems.
  • Test the water pressure in both hot and cold taps. Ideally turn on several taps at once to test the pressure.
  • Turn on the shower and make sure it has good pressure and that the 'flower' works well.
  • Partially fill the bath or sink and observe the drainage of the water. Slow flow could indicate damaged or blocked sewer drains.

Outside the house:

  • Inspect fences and gates for stability and rot.
  • Check the land's water run-off drains away from the house.
  • Inspect all outside walls and make sure they are straight and not cracked or rotten.
  • Make sure there are no large trees near the house. Root systems of trees can cause structural problems if they are close to the house.
  • Make sure there is adequate sub-floor ventilation.
  • Check that the condition of the mortar between the bricks is okay.
  • Check the condition of the eves. Water staining may be an indication of damaged guttering.
  • Hop up on the roof and have a good look around the guttering and roofing, and make sure that the line of the roof is straight and there are no broken tiles.
  • Check the stumps for subsidence, rot, borer or termite attack.

These are just some of the things to investigate. If you don't feel comfortable investigating any of these areas, arrange a builder or a building inspector to do it for you.