Check a prop­erty thor­oughly be­fore buy­ing

South Waikato News - - PROPERTY -

THERE’S no short­age of hor­ror sto­ries about peo­ple who have bought a prop­erty that looked fine on the out­side but which, in fact, hid se­ri­ous de­fects.

Ma­jor prob­lems and faults can cost prop­erty buy­ers many thou­sands of dol­lars to fix.

So how can you avoid buy­ing a lemon? The rule is to buy your first home us­ing your head, not your heart. This means thor­oughly as­sess­ing prop­er­ties for signs of ex­ist­ing prob­lems and prob­lems that may oc­cur in the fu­ture.

When in­spect­ing a prop­erty, you should do two types of checks. The first is your own ini­tial ap­praisal and the sec­ond if you’re se­ri­ous about the prop­erty – is to bring in the ex­perts.

A good way to go about your in­spec­tion is to di­vide the prop­erty into three ar­eas – the in­side, the out­side and the sur­round­ing land and struc­tures.

The fol­low­ing is a list of things to look for.

In­sider’s tip: If you have friends or family who have re­cently bought a prop­erty or have ex­per­tise in this area, ask them to come with you. They may be able to give you some poin­t­ers and they might be more ob­jec­tive. In­side the dwelling: Wa­ter pres­sure: Turn on the taps and check wa­ter pres­sure and colour and how well it drains.

Damp: Check for stains, wa­ter marks and paint dam­age. Sell­ers will some­times paint over damp to hide it, so use your sense of smell.

Cracks in the walls, or doors that stick: These can be signs of sub­si­dence or move­ment.

Stick­ing win­dows: If win­dows don’t open and close prop­erly, the frames may have warped or rusted. New paint jobs can hide both. You can tell if wood is go­ing to rot by press­ing it with your fin­ger – if soft, there’s a prob­lem.

Mould: If there’s mould in the bath­room, it usu­ally means a ven­ti­la­tion prob­lem.

New paint: Paint is of­ten used to hide faults.

Bath­room: Check for dam­aged enamel and bro­ken sur­faces. Loose grout and cracked or lift­ing tiles can be signs of wa­ter dam­age. Check the plumb­ing for leaks.

Hot wa­ter: Ask the age and per­for­mance of the unit and when last ser­viced.

In­su­la­tion: If you can, look through the man­hole into the roof to check the age and con­di­tion of the in­su­la­tion and ask whether the walls are in­su­lated.

Pests: Look for signs of pest trou­ble, such as rat or mouse­traps or poi­sons. Sag­ging floors, springy floors and steps, as well as hol­low­sound­ing beams, can all be signs of ter­mite dam­age.

Elec­tri­cal wiring: Old-fash­ioned switches and sock­ets can be signs of old wiring that could need re­plac­ing.

Heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tems: In­quire about the age of the units, their ser­vice records and whether they are run­ning well.

Floor cov­er­ings: Check the car­pets for wear and tear, and de­cide whether they’ll need re­plac­ing. Lift any rugs to make sure they’re not cov­er­ing any dam­age.

Kitchen and laun­dry: Check the age and qual­ity of the bench tops and cup­boards.

Decor: Con­sider how much re­dec­o­ra­tion needs to be done.

Ren­o­va­tions: If you’re plan­ning to ren­o­vate, it pays to go a step fur­ther and check the ease with which tiles can be lifted and car­pets re­moved. If you can and it’s safe to do so, get un­der the house to see if floor­boards can be pol­ished or whether they need re­plac­ing. Think about how much work the kitchen and bath­rooms will need. Out­side the dwelling: Ori­en­ta­tion: Check which di­rec­tion the house faces and if liv­ing ar­eas will be too hot or cold.

Fuse box: Make sure it meets safety re­quire­ments. If you have doubts, get an elec­tri­cian to check the box and the house wiring be­fore you buy.

Gut­ter­ing: Look for dis­re­pair. Check whether the down­pipes and drainage are in or­der and fixed well to the stormwa­ter drain.

As­bestos: Ask whether as­bestos has been used. Most of­ten, it’s in walls, roof­ing and fenc­ing. It is al­ways best to have as­bestos as­sessed and re­moved pro­fes­sion­ally. In­hal­ing as­bestos dust can cause se­ri­ous health prob­lems.

Roof: Check tiles. A sag­ging or un­du­lat­ing roof can be a sign of un­der­ly­ing struc­tural is­sues.

Gen­eral ap­pear­ance: Check the over­all state and look for dam­aged win­dows, cracks in bricks or ce­ment work and whether the house needs to be re­painted.

Ex­ten­sions: Check the qual­ity of the work­man­ship on any ex­ten­sions and ask to see the coun­cil ap­provals.

Sur­round­ing land and struc­tures:

Trees: Trees near­ing the end of their lives can pose a dan­ger and be quite ex­pen­sive to re­move.

After your in­spec­tion, re­flect for a mo­ment on what you’ve dis­cov­ered. Doc­u­ment your find­ings and es­ti­mate how much any re­pairs will cost.

Weigh up whether the costs out­weigh the ben­e­fits of buy­ing the prop­erty.

If you still want to pro­ceed with the pur­chase, it’s time to bring in the ex­perts.

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