Buying a house is probably going to be the biggest purchase you make in your entire lifetime. Not only is the cost price of a house usually humongous, but once you take into account all the interest payments on your mortgage, then the final figure paid for a house is pretty astonishing. It would be great to be able to take time over choosing the perfect house, but that’s not always possible.
When we bought our first family home together in 2014 the house market was crazy. There were way too many buyers and not enough houses on the market. We’d put a couple of offers on houses after first viewings only to discover they were sold the first viewing day to more preferential cash buyers instead. We couldn’t hang around and knew we had to make a quick decision, so felt the pressure. There was no time even for a second viewing – we just had to go for it when we found a house we thought suitable.
Of course, we were also quite naïve and didn’t totally know what to look for. This wasn’t helped by the fact the current owners and their kids wanted to follow us round the viewing overshadowing us and making us feel like we couldn’t have a proper look in each room. With the current two owners, their two kids, the estate agent, me, my husband and my grandad (a builder by trade so thought his advice would be invaluable) all trying to look in each room it was a squeeze!
It wasn’t an ideal viewing, but we knew there was a good school nearby, the house seemed big enough and the price was amazing as the current owners were part exchanging so we knew the price was less than it was worth. We put our offer in at asking price there and then and it was accepted!
Unfortunately in an ideal world, we would have looked around by ourselves with no one else there watching what we do. We’d have also had a second viewing without our rose tinted glasses on!
There were lots of issues and problems right away which we never noticed at the viewing, but we know to check for these in the future when we move house.
Based on our experience of house hunting, here are 5 unexpected things to check for at a viewing:
1. What’s the water pressure like?
This was our biggest mistake as we never thought to check the water pressure and it was terrible! The shower was literally a dribble and I couldn’t wash shampoo out of my hair! Running a shallow bath for our two year old took around 40 minutes. We had to call out a professional and replace the entire water tank at a cost of over £2000! Next time we’ll turn some taps on and the shower to check out the pressure.
2. Which direction does the house face?
This isn’t something that’s a problem at our house as we are south facing, but that’s only because Ben knew to look for a south facing garden. At the start of our search I booked us some viewings at some lovely houses, but when we arrived to view Ben let me know that the gardens were north facing and due to the size and layout of the house and surroundings, we’d get no sunny garden days at all.
3. Are there enough power sockets in each room?
I’m pretty sure the electrics here all need replacing, but one big problem is the lack of electrical sockets. There is only a single one in one of the bedroom’s and one double socket in another bedroom. It’s not enough for our needs and at some point we will have to pay for an electrician to fit more as the children are going to need them.
4. Can you easily extend in the future?
We quite quickly realised the layout wasn’t ideal for us and we wanted to extend, but it’s a chalet style house with a low roof and dorma bedroom windows on the first floor both sides. We also have solar panels on the roof. We’ve considered extending out the back, but it really doesn’t suit this style of house and our attic might be too small and tricky to extend into, especially with the current layout of the house and bedrooms windows. We definitely should have thought about the possibility of extending in the future and whether it was practical to extend the house with its layout, space and roof.
5. Do the door locks work and do they all have keys?
Another thing to check is if the doors work. The lock on the side door of our home didn’t work. The key could barely get into it from the outside, let alone turn. Another costly job to get sorted if we want to be able to use that door as an entrance. Also check they all have keys and spares. We panicked our back door didn’t have spare keys when I lost one (it fell out of my pocket), but luckily we found a bunch of keys the owner had left and a spare was there.
These are five things that definitely slipped my mind when viewing houses to buy, but next time I’ll be a lot more thorough to avoid unexpected costs once moved in.