House viewing tips: things to consider when viewing a house

Many people enjoy viewing a house and picturing life in a new home.  But don’t make the mistake of arriving for a viewing thinking that this is the place for you.  Have an open mind.  Don’t just focus on the good points, consider the downsides too.  It is a good idea to:

1. View the house more than once and at different times of the day. In addition to viewing the property internally, drive past on different days of the week to get a feel for the area.  There may be certain times of the day or days of the week when traffic is busier, and this may not be obvious from a single viewing.

2. When viewing a house, take someone with you.  It’s worth having another opinion on the property.  There may be things you hadn’t spotted yourself.

3. After viewing a house, take a walk.  Walking gives a different view of the area.  Check out neighbouring properties to see whether they are well maintained.  You may even meet some of your prospective new neighbours.  Look out for any neighbouring land use or businesses which may affect the property.

4. When viewing ahouse, imagine what it will be like at other times of the year and in different weather conditions. For instance, a house on a north facing slope may have plenty of sun in the summer but may spend weeks in the shade in the winter. A house in an exposed position might take the brunt of the weather during a storm.  A house on a steep hill may be difficult to access during icy weather.

5. Don’t just view one property, even if you think the first property is perfect for your needs.  Viewing other properties may reinforce your decision to make an offer on a particular house, but similarly it may open your eyes to others which are more suitable.

6. Ask the vendor if you can take photographs.  Sometimes you might remember the positive features, but photos may remind you of other aspects which may easily be forgotten.

7. If you are buying a property to let, see “Buying a buy to let property”.

Above all, don’t rush into making a decision.  Don’t be pressured by the estate agent or anyone else even if there are other potential buyers on the scene.  Buying the wrong property will be an expensive mistake.  Make sure you have considered all important issues and be fully aware what you are taking on before exchange of contracts.  If you are unsure about the condition of the house or want further information on any defects then instruct a surveyor.

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Moving house in autumn – heating, insulation and freezing pipework

When moving house in autumn there are a number of items which take priority over longer term plans.  Alterations, and sometimes even decorating, can wait until a convenient time, but first it is important to make sure your new house is prepared for the winter months ahead.

If you are moving house in autumn remember to:

  1. Check that the heating system is functioning and have the system serviced (unless this has been serviced recently). Ideally, ask the vendor to show you how to operate the system before completion takes place.  If the system has recently been serviced then ask for the documents.
  2. Check that any plumbing pipework and water tanks in the roof space are fully lagged to reduce the risk of freezing. The same applies to any pipework in unheated outbuildings and pipework to outdoor taps.
  3. Check whether cavity wall insulation has been installed if the house has cavity walls.  Cavity wall insulation can reduce heat loss and improve the level of comfort within a house, but note that not all properties with cavity walls are suitable for cavity wall insulation.  See also 1960’s houses:  common defects. 
  4. Check gutters, gullies and drains to make sure they have not become blocked by leaves, etc.
  5. Check any paved areas to ensure they are draining adequately and are not ponding. Any areas which pond may become slippery with algae and/or ice.
  6. Check the level of insulation within any roof spaces.  Don’t forget the roof spaces to extensions, bay windows, etc.  If insulation is insufficient, then topping up before the cold weather arrives should help improve the level of comfort within the house.

When moving house in autumn, a few simple checks should help to ensure that you are prepared for the colder, winter months ahead.  If you are unable to check the house for yourself, consider instructing a surveyor.

 

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Buying a house with double glazing – misted units, ventilation, condensation

When buying a house with double glazing you might think great, no draughts, lower heat loss, etc.  However, double glazed units can fail and require replacement, particularly older units.

Double glazed windows have now been in use for several decades.  Early double glazing was often in either a timber frame or a metal frame, sometimes with insulation within the frame members.  Some of the older units had narrow sealed units which were not as effective against heat loss as more modern units.  Today, the vast majority of double glazed windows, whether replacement windows or used in new housing, have PVCu frames.

Double glazing is virtually essential for a modern dwelling to enable it to meet the requirements of Building Regulations in respect of heat loss.   The sealed air gap (filled with air or another insulating gas) between the two panes of glass reduces heat loss from the dwelling and prevents condensation on the glass itself.

When buying a house with double glazing it is important to check for the following:

 

Failed double glazed units

The sealed double glazed unit can fail either due to a defect in manufacture, damage or deterioration over time.  This can be identified by misting/fogging, ie, condensation occurring between the two panes of glass which form the double glazed unit.  The amount of misting can vary from day to day depending on weather conditions.   Once a sealed double glazed unit has failed it cannot be repaired.  It may be possible to replace the unit only, or it may be necessary to replace the whole window.  If only one or a small number of units have failed then other units of the same age may fail in the not too distant future.

If you are buying a house with double glazing and note one or more failed double glazed units, ask the vendor when the windows were installed and check whether there is a warranty to cover failure.  If there is a valid warranty, check whether this can be transferred into your name.

If the whole window requires replacement then contact a FENSA contractor to obtain a quotation and replace to ensure that the work is carried out in accordance with Building Regulations.

 

Insufficient ventilation

The purpose of double glazing is to reduce heat loss, reduce the risk of condensation on the glazing and help to maintain a comfortable temperature within the home.  However, as homes have become better insulated they sometimes suffer condensation due to a lack of ventilation.  It is important to provide adequate ventilation to a dwelling to allow excess moisture to escape and reduce the risk of dampness, condensation and mould.  Condensation isn’t simply water running down a window, it can also occur within furnishings resulting in dampness, a musty smell and possibly mould spores within the fabric.

Ideally, windows should have a combination of large opening casements and smaller top hung opening vent lights.  Windows should have locks so that they can be locked in an open position without reducing security, enabling windows to be left slightly open at night to prevent a build-up of moisture.  If there is mould on window frames and around window openings then this is a sign of inadequate ventilation.

If you are buying a house with double glazing, check whether trickle vents are provided.  Trickle vents allow background ventilation and can help to avoid a build-up of moisture and the risk of condensation.

 

Checklist

  1. Check the configuration of opening windows.
  2. Check whether windows can be locked in an open position.
  3. Check whether there are trickle vents (usually found in the head of the window frame).
  4. Check the working order of window handles.
  5. Check whether there is any misting or fogging within the double glazed units.
  6. Check that any replacement windows have been installed by a FENSA contractor (if replaced since April 2002).
  7. Check whether there is a warranty for any replacement double glazed windows or doors and whether this can be transferred into your name

See also buying a refurbished house. 

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Buying a house in a rural area – services, bats, agricultural ties

Buying a house in a rural area has many attractions including cleaner air and a slower pace of life.  However, there are a number of issues which should be considered especially for those moving from a town or city.

Points to consider when buying a house in a rural area:

  1. Services – check which mains services are connected to the property.  While most properties will have mains electricity and water, not all homes are connected to mains gas.  Many properties in rural areas have a private drainage system.  Ask the vendor what services are connected to the property and also what services are available in the area, eg, the property may not be connected to mains gas but there may be mains gas nearby.  If the property has private drainage then ask the vendor for details such as whether there is a mini sewerage treatment system, septic tank, soakaway, etc.  Check when any septic tank was last emptied and which company usually carries this out.  See Instructing a Surveyor

 

  1. Bats – bats are common in rural properties. They often nest in outbuildings and/or the roof or cavity walls of the house itself.  If you live in a house with bats it may not be obvious but they can be detected by the presence of droppings.  Bats are protected and there are controls on carrying out works on properties with bats.  Ask the vendors whether they are aware of any bats roosting in the house and/or outbuildings.  For further information on bats visit http://www.bats.org.uk/     

 

  1. Rats and mice – rats, mice and other rodents are common in rural areas both within residential parts and outbuildings. There are a number of methods of controlling rodents including traditional traps, poison or friendly traps (which allow a mouse to be caught alive and then set free away from the house).  Whichever method you choose, it is important to keep rodents under control as they can multiply very quickly.

 

  1. Conservation Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) – if you are planning to buy a house in a rural area/village it is important to check whether it falls within a Conservation Area.  Conservation Areas aim to control what works can be carried out in an area in an attempt to prevent inappropriate development.  However, the downside is that these controls will also affect works you plan to carry out to your own property.  Contact your Local Authority to check whether the property you plan to buy falls within a Conservation Area.  To find out whether a property falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) visit http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/visit-aonbs.html 

 

  1. Agricultural ties – a property with an agricultural would normally have an occupancy restriction, typically restricting occupancy to persons employed, or last employed in agriculture in the area.  In some instances this restriction can be extended to others, such as widows or widowers of someone employed or last employed in agriculture.  If you propose to buy a property with an agricultural tie, or any other form of occupancy restriction, check the details of the restrictions with the Local Authority.  Properties with an agricultural tie typically sell for a lower price, ie, have a lower value, than similar properties without an occupancy restriction, so if you are considering purchasing a property which has a lower price than you would have expected, this may be because it has an agricultural tie.

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Buying a refurbished house: what to check

Many people can see the attraction of buying a refurbished house as they can move straight in and unpack rather than spend weeks, months  or sometimes years getting the house the way they want it.  But can you be sure that any works have been carried out to an acceptable standard?  And more importantly, have the works been carried out legally?

 

New kitchen and bathroom

A brand new kitchen is perhaps a one of the most desirable things in a house.  Everything bright and shiny and with no stains to cupboards or worktops left behind by the previous owners.  When buying a refurbished house this may be one of the biggest attractions.  However, some works involved in refurbishing a kitchen and bathroom are controlled under Building Regulations for the purpose of ensuring that works are carried out to an acceptable standard.

Any works carried out to waste pipework are controlled under Approved Document H of the Building Regulations.  Minor works would often be carried out on a Building Notice.  The building contractor would submit a Building Notice to the Local Authority Building Control Department and the Building Control Officer would inspect the work at the appropriate time to check that the works meet the required standard.  Obtain all documentation for any works controlled under Building Regulations.

Don’t forget the things you can’t see.  Everything may look new, but if you are buying an older house do you know whether the incoming water main has been replaced?  Check whether there is any remaining lead supply pipework.  If the cold water supply pipe is lead then this will require replacement.  If this involves disturbing floors, kitchen fittings, etc then this will add to the cost of this work.

 

New windows and doors

The replacement of most windows and doors is controlled under Building Regulations.  The purpose of this is to reduce energy loss.  The FENSA scheme was set up to allow registered companies to self-certify the installation of windows or doors.  This saves time and makes it easier for home owners to replace windows or doors without having to apply to the Local Authority for Building Regulation approval.

Any glazing installed from April 2002 onwards (except new buildings) requires a FENSA certificate to confirm that the windows or doors comply with Building Regulations.  However, if any glazing has been carried out by a company which is not registered with FENSA , or carried out in a DIY manner, then the homeowner will be responsible for applying to the Local Authority to obtain Building Regulation approval.  Sometimes the installer may apply for approval on the homeowner’s behalf but obtaining approval is still the responsibility of the homeowner.

 

PVCu fascias and soffits

New PVCu fascias and soffits save the time and cost of redecorating timber eaves joinery and are another attraction of buying a refurbished house.  However, the new PVCu eaves joinery is often clad over the original fascias and soffits, with the original eaves joinery being left in place.  Depending on the age of the property it is possible that some of the original eaves joinery was asbestos cement (commonly used for soffits).  If there any asbestos containing materials remain then it is important to be aware of their location and condition.

Asbestos cement typically does not pose a problem if it is in good condition and not disturbed.  Ask the vendor if they are aware of any concealed asbestos containing materials (including asbestos cement eaves joinery).

 

Cavity wall insulation

The provision of cavity wall insulation is also controlled under Building Regulations.  CIGA (The Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency) was set up in 1995.  It is an independent body which operates and administers a Cavity Wall Insulation Self Certification scheme (CWISC) in association with the British Board of Agrément.  A CIGA registered installer will assess the property prior to installation, carry out the installation and will apply to CIGA for a guarantee on behalf of the homeowner.

This guarantee is transferable to future owners of the property.  Also, if the cavity wall insulation has been installed by a CIGA registered installer then the installation will comply with the requirements of Building Regulations.

If the work has not been carried out by a CIGA registered installer then the work may not comply with Building Regulation requirements.

 

Additional loft insulation

Improvements to insulation in the loft will help to reduce heat loss and energy consumption.  However, if insulation is provided at ceiling level (to form a “cold roof”) it is important to ensure that the roof space above is adequately ventilated.  This is often achieved by vents in the soffits and/or tile ventilators.  If insulation has been increased, make sure that the insulation does not block any ventilation openings at the eaves.  This can be done by going into the roof space to check whether there is air movement and by checking that ventilation openings are not obstructed.

 

Laminated flooring

New laminated flooring looks clean and does not have the disadvantages of carpets which have been in use for many years.  However, it is important to know they are not covering defective floors, otherwise they may need to be taken up.

When buying a refurbished house look for signs that might indicate that timber floors may be damp, rotten or have woodworm:

  • Check each floor for springiness which may indicate rot, woodworm or inadequate floor structures.
  • Walk around the outside of the house to check for high ground levels. Ideally, external ground levels should be 150 mm (6″) below the damp proof course.  If the external walls are damp the ground floor timbers may also be damp, rotten and/or have woodworm.
  • Check that vents are provided at regular intervals to the external walls at low level to ventilate the sub-floor void. If the void below a timber ground floor does not have sufficient ventilation then this may lead to rot and/or woodworm.

 

Electrical work

Most electrical works are controlled under Approved Document P of the Building Regulations.  This can be achieved by employing an electrician registered with one of the government approved schemes who can self-certify any works.  Obtain the Building Compliance Certificate/Part P Certificate to confirm any electrical works have been carried out to the required standard.

 

New central heating

If gas fired central heating has recently been installed, check whether this was carried out by a Gas Safe contractor and obtain any documentation.

 

Recently redecorated rooms

Moving into a house which has recently been decorated through sounds perfect.  But when buying a refurbished house, can you be sure that new decorations are not hiding defects such as cracks?  Look for other signs of movement such as sloping floors, racked doorways, cracking externally, bowing walls, etc.

 

Generally

Above all, don’t get carried away by the newness if the interior.  Remember to check that the house as a whole has been maintained.  There is little point having smart and newly decorated rooms if the roof leaks or if the wiring needs to be replaced.  If in doubt, instruct a surveyor to make sure that there are no major defects.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Buying a house in Spring: what to look for

Spring usually sees a surge in properties on the market.  This is a time when gardens will be at their most attractive with an array of flowers and new vegetation in contrast to the preceding months.  Also, many families who are relocating hope to complete their move in time for their children to start their new schools in September.  When buying a house in Spring don’t get carried away.  Its important to stop and think about what sort of home your proposed purchase will make at other times of the year.

 

Rainwater gutters and downpipes

If there hasn’t been very much rain for some time it might not be obvious whether the rainwater gutters, downpipes, gullies and hoppers are functioning.  When buying a house in Spring, it is a good idea to check joints of gutters and downpipes for signs of leakage such as staining and make sure rainwater hoppers are not blocked.  Also, check that gutters are adequately supported with brackets at regular intervals and check that all gutters have stop ends.  Examine walls carefully for any signs that rainwater goods have been leaking or overflowing.

 

Drives and paving

Drives and paved areas may look fine during a dry spell but it is important to look for clues to determine whether they are adequate during wet weather.

Check for signs of ponding to low areas such as stained areas or silt.  Puddles on the drive or patio are not ideal and can be a hazard when they freeze in cold weather.  Areas of ponding can also cause the surface to deteriorate more quickly, particularly after sub zero temperatures.

If the drive (and any other hardstanding areas) are steeply sloping then look to see where rainwater will run.  If paved areas slope towards the building then there may be a torrent of water during heavy rainfall.  Rainwater should ideally fall towards gullies or drainage channels and be discharged into surface water drains or to a soakaway.

 

Gardens

When buying a house in Spring, remember to check there are sufficient paths to access important areas of the garden such as the garage, sheds, bin store and the washing line.  Some external areas may be acceptable during dry weather but may turn to mud in wet weather.  You may not mind walking across the lawn to a shed or bin store in the spring or summer when the ground is dry, but the same route could quickly become a quagmire during wet weather.

 

Natural light

On a bright day in spring or summer rooms can look much brighter than on a dull day in the autumn or winter.  When buying a house in Spring, consider the size, location and orientation of windows to assess how much natural light the same rooms are likely to have during the winter months.  If certain rooms are likely to need lamps during the day it is better to know before you decide to buy the house.

See also instructing a surveyor when buying a house.

 

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What type of survey do I need?  Building Survey or Homebuyer Report 

What type of survey do you need before buying a house?  Surveys come with a variety of names such as Building Surveys, Structural Surveys, Homebuyer Reports, and Condition Reports.  Whatever the name, and whatever the type of survey you choose to have, you need to know that the contents of the report are going to give you the information you need to decide whether or not to proceed with your proposed purchase.

A survey isn’t only necessary to advise on the condition of the property and whether there are any defect.  The surveyor may also note issues which require input from your solicitor, or further enquiries or investigations.

Most house buyers would like to know the following:

  1. Are there any defects which need urgent attention?
  2. Are there any defects which require costly repairs which may exceed their budget?
  3. Are there any “unseen” items which are likely to require attention, e.g., wiring, drains, cavity wall ties?
  4. Are there any legal issues such as trespass, eg, overhanging gutters, overhanging eaves, trees, etc?
  5. Are there any factors which may affect buildings insurance such as a flying freehold?
  6. If any recent works have been carried out do they have Local Authority consents? This not only applies to extensions, but other works controlled under Building Regulations including formations of openings in walls, works to kitchens and bathrooms, works to service installations such as wiring and heating.
  7. Does the property contain asbestos? Asbestos can be found in many common materials in residential properties including textured coatings to walls or ceilings, floor tiles, sheet board materials, rainwater goods, some water tanks, man-made slates, etc.   The presence of asbestos containing materials is likely to increase the cost of any repair and alteration works if these need to be disturbed.
  8. Whether there are any known issues in the area such as subsidence, black ash mortar, pitch fibre drains, etc.

 

A mortgage valuation is not a survey

If you are taking out a mortgage on the property then be aware that the mortgage valuation is not a survey.  The purpose of the mortgage valuation is to confirm to the mortgage lender that the property offers sufficient security for the loan.  It is not intended to inform the buyer of the condition of the property and some mortgage lenders do not even pass a copy of the valuation to the applicant (the buyer).

For an average 3 bedroomed house a mortgage valuer is likely to spend around 20 to 30 minutes  carrying out the inspection, compared to around 3 hours for a survey (possibly more or less depending on the age and condition of the property).  For a mortgage valuation the valuer does not normally enter  into the roof space (head and shoulders inspection only) whereas for a survey the surveyor will carry out a detailed inspection of the roof space (subject to safe access being available).

Visit  http://www.rics.org/Global/RICS-HomeSurveys-a-valuation-is-not-survey-REVISED.pdf

The governing body for Chartered Surveyors is The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  The RICS has produced information aimed at home buyers about the importance of getting a home survey.

View the following video entitled The Importance of Getting a Home Survey  https://youtu.be/LER9SPvdmRs

What type of survey should I have?

One of the most common types of survey is the RICS HomeBuyer Report.  This is a standardised report format suitable for most types of traditionally built property and is based on a visual inspection.  The Homebuyer Report will be carried out by a surveyor with one of the following qualifications – FRICS, MRICS or AssocRICS.

The Homebuyer Report was revised during 2016 and is now available either with or without a Market Value (Valuation) and an insurance rebuilding cost. The Homebuyer Report was previously only available with the Market Value and insurance rebuilding cost.

The Homebuyer Report includes a description of condition, colour coded condition ratings, comments on defects, advice on maintenance, an overall opinion and summary of condition ratings.  However, the Homebuyer Report does not include a detailed description of the construction of the building or detailed advice on specific defects.  It also excludes cost estimates for any repair works.

However, many Chartered Surveyors produce reports in their own format as an alternative to the Homebuyer Report, many of which offer more detailed information.  When you request a quotation for a survey ask what type of survey she they offer.  Also, ask for a sample report and the surveyor’s terms of engagement to make sure the service you choose meets your needs.  The inspections for some types of survey will be visual only, while others may be more detailed and include lifting a sample of floorboards to inspect the floor structure where this is possible without causing damage.

If you plan to carry out any alterations then inform the surveyor prior to the date of the survey so that these can be considered during the inspection.   For example,  if you plan to build an extension it is useful to know where the drain runs are located, also, if you plan to remove any walls you will need to know whether they are load bearing or not.

Decide whether you require any additional services to the basic survey, such as an insurance rebuilding cost or valuation, prior to instructing a surveyor.  There may be additional  costs if the surveyor has to return, for example to take measurements to calculate the rebuilding cost.

View the following video produced by the RICS entitled Choosing the Right Survey (for consumers)

https://youtu.be/9r92bTZYrvA  h https://youtu.be/9r92bTZYrvAttps://youtu.be/9r92bTZYrvA

The different types of RICS surveys are described in the following 13 page document entitled A Clear, Impartial Guide to Home Surveys

http://www.rics.org/Global/RICS-Home-Surveys.pdf

Choosing a surveyor

It is a good idea to ask friends, family or your solicitor for recommendations before instructing a surveyor.   Remember you do not have to have the survey carried out by the person who carries out the mortgage valuation, you are free to choose a surveyor of your choice.

Obtain quotations from Chartered Building Surveyors but remember that the level of detail within reports may vary and so choosing a surveyor is not solely down to cost.

The governing body for Chartered Surveyors is The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  They hold a register of all Chartered Surveyors and their fields of practice.  To find a suitably qualified surveyor in your area visit RICS Find a Surveyor  http://www.ricsfirms.com/

Finally, whatever the name of the survey report, and whatever type of survey you decide to have, ensure the surveyor you instruct is local and experienced.  Also, ensure that the survey report will provide you with the information you require, in the detail you require.

See also What should I do after having a survey?

Source:  www.rics.org

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Buying a house with an extension: what to check – Local Authority approvals, substandard construction

When buying a house with an extension there are a number of issues to consider.

Local Authority Approvals – buying a house with an extension

The purpose of Building Regulations is to ensure that construction works are carried out to the required standard, are safe and have a satisfactory level of insulation.  If you are buying a house with an extension which does not have Building Regulation approval then its construction may be substandard or even dangerous.   It is possible that a lack of Building Regulation approval may affect the buildings insurance policy and/or mortgagability (and saleability) of the property.

If you plan to buy a house with an extension then you/your solicitor must make enquiries to establish whether the required Local Authority approvals have been obtained.  Obtain copies of all documentation and keep these with your other purchase documents.

However, you may find that the works were carried out without the required Local Authority approvals.  If this is the case then the Local Authority may choose to take enforcement action against the owner of the property (even if the works were carried out by a former owner).  In other words,  if you purchase a house with an extension which does not have the required Local Authority approvals then there is a risk that you will be required to rectify the works at your own expense.  The owner of the property may apply for retrospective approval, however, this may delay the sale of the property.  A speedier solution may be to take out an indemnity policy.  Your solicitor can advise on the suitability of an indemnity policy for your particular situation and can advise on the policy details and any limitations.

For further information on what works require Planning Permission, Building Control Approval and Listed Building Consent visit the Planning Portal using the link below:

https://www.planningportal.co.uk/

 

Half brick rear additions

Many older properties have additions (often at the rear) which are of half brick (single skin) construction.  Some were former outbuildings which have been incorporated into the living space.  This form of construction is substandard, may allow rain penetration, high heat loss and condensation.  If you are seeking a mortgage then it is possible that a retention may be made (or an undertaking to upgrade the walls) until works have been carried out to a satisfactory standard.

 

Lack of a cavity tray where conservatories and single storey extensions are provided

Where a single storey part is provided there is normally a cavity tray in the cavity wall immediately above the lower roof.  With cavity walls it is normal for rainwater to pass through the external leaf and into the cavity. A cavity tray is needed in this position to help water entering the cavity to pass to the outside instead of causing the inner face of the wall below to become damp.  In other words, if a cavity tray is not inserted into the cavity wall where a single storey extension or conservatory are added then there is a risk of dampness to the wall internally, ie, inside the house.

Damp patches may be noted to the wall or wall plaster in the area close to the new abutment to the outside wall.  If you are having a survey then your surveyor can check this area with a moisture meter.  A moisture meter can detect dampness which may not be visible to the naked eye.  If you are having only a mortgage valuation but no survey then the valuer may not check this area with a moisture meter.  See also – is a mortgage valuation the same as a survey?

If dampness is noted due to a lack of a cavity tray then it will be necessary to insert a cavity tray at this position.

 

Low pitched roofs to single storey extensions

Many people would prefer to have a pitched rood rather than a flat roof over an extension as they consider it will have a have a longer life and need less maintenance.  Also, many pitched roofs have a better appearance than flat roofs.  But many home owners do not consider the pitch of the roof and the type of tile.  In many cases the pitch is determined by the size of the extension and the position of any upper windows. In some cases there may only be sufficient height for a relatively low pitched roof.

Each type of tile has a minimum pitch for it to be watertight, ie, roofs below the minimum pitch for the type of tile may not be watertight.  For instance, Redland 50 Double Roman tiles should be used at minimum pitches of 17.5, 22.5 or 30 degrees depending on whether the tiles are through coloured or have a granular finish, and also depending on headlap.  Therefore, if a pitched roof has a low pitch it is possible that it may not be watertight unless a suitable type of tile has been used such as Forticrete Centurion which can be used for pitches as low as 10 or 12.5 degrees depending on headlap, lap of underlay, etc.

 

The list above is for general advice and is not exhaustive as further issues may require investigation and enquiries, depending on the property you propose to buy.

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Does my solicitor need a copy of my survey report?

 

The answer to this question is simple.  Yes, your solicitor should have a copy of your survey report.  Some solicitors may ask for a copy as a matter of course but many do not.  Your solicitor is not likely to have visited the property you plan to buy but your surveyor will probably have spent several hours carrying out an inspection before preparing the survey report.

It is likely that there will be items in the report which will need the input of your solicitor including:

  • Checking whether any extensions to the property (including loft conversions) have Local Authority approvals (Planning Permission, Building Regulation approval and Listed Building consent where appropriate).  Your surveyor is likely to note any recent extensions which your solicitor may not otherwise be aware of.
  • During the course of the survey your surveyor is likely to note any works which appear to have been carried out recently which would have required Building Regulation approval. Your solicitor should check whether Building Regulation approval has been obtained for any alterations to the property or any other works controlled under Building Regulations including formation of new openings in a wall, works to the drainage installation, etc.  Also, if cavity wall insulation has been installed then this will be noted by your surveyor and your solicitor should obtain the installation documentation to confirm that this has been carried out satisfactorily.
  • If any parts of the property trespass, ie, gutters, satellite dishes, trees, opening windows along a boundary, etc, then your solicitor can provide advice before you commit to purchase the property. Similarly, if any parts of a neighbour’s property trespass then advice can be obtained prior to purchase.
  • Confirming ownership and responsibility of boundaries.
  • Confirming ownership and responsibility for drain runs.
  • If you are buying a flat then your solicitor will need to check the lease and confirm your responsibilities for repairs and maintenance, including external and communal areas.

Your solicitor may be happy with a digital copy of the report rather than a hard copy.  This can easily be forwarded by email so can be read and acted upon a day earlier than a hard copy would be received by post.

So, even if a property looks to be in a good order, it is worth having a survey in the event there are issues which need to be checked by your solicitor.

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Do I need buildings insurance?

 

If you own a house then you need to arrange buildings insurance cover.  If you have a mortgage then this is likely to be a condition of the mortgage and there may even be a requirement to arrange this through your mortgage company.

If you own a leasehold flat then the block as a whole may be insured by the management company or the freeholder.  If this is the case then your regular service charge is likely to go towards the cost of insurance.  Your solicitor should confirm details of insurance before you decide to purchase the property.

Buildings insurance typically covers the structure of the building and fittings.  It does not generally include contents which may be insured separately by the same insurer or by an alternative insurer.  It is important to check the details of the cover.

 

How Much Should I Insure my Property for?

The amount for which a building should be insured is NOT the same as the VALUE of the property or the amount paid.   The amount for which your property should be insured can be calculated by a Chartered Surveyor.  The calculation takes many factors into account including size, form of construction, location, standard of finish, etc.  Some insurance policies are index linked, ie, increase each year to take into account increasing costs, however, it is still a good idea to have the sum recalculated from time to time to make sure it reflects the true cost of rebuilding.

 

Insurance Policy Details

Check the policy carefully as some items may  be excluded or have a high excess.

Ask the vendor if they have made any claims on their buildings insurance in the last few years and whether any restrictions/high excesses have been placed on their policy.  This may be the case if the property has suffered an insured risk such as subsidence, flooding, etc.

If the property you are buying is of non-standard construction then check whether your proposed buildings insurer will cover the property.  Non-standard construction includes some prefabricated dwellings, some timber framed dwellings and some properties of concrete construction.  Some insurers may place restrictions on properties with flat roofs/flat roofed extensions, Listed buildings or houses with thatched roofs.

Check whether any restrictions are placed on the policy.  It is common for properties which are vacant for more than a certain length of time to have restrictions.

For guidance on buildings insurance policies visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

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