Buying a property: websites not to miss

Most people buying a property will be familiar with websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.  But much more information is needed before making a decision whether to buy a particular property or not.  How do you go about choosing a solicitor or surveyor?  How do you know whether there is asbestos in the property you plan to buy and what should you do about it?  What do you need to know if you are buying a property to let?  Where can you find information if the house you propose to buy is in a Conservation Area?  What should you do if bats are roosting in your new home?  How do you identify Japanese Knotweed?

General advice on buying and selling a house

Visit https://www.which.co.uk/money/mortgages-and-property/first-time-buyers/buying-a-home/how-to-buy-a-house-alm0r9l4yf5x  for general advice on the house buying process.  This site includes information on applying for a mortgage, making an offer, appointing a solicitor, arranging a survey, arranging insurance, exchanging contracts and more.

For further general advice visit also https://www.money.co.uk/guides/how-to-buy-a-house.htm

For advice on selling your home, including choosing between a local estate agent and an online estate agent, visit  http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/consumer-guides/selling-your-home/

 

Searching for a property and researching selling prices

Rightmove is a widely used website when buying a property.  It allows you to browse properties on the market and view photos and floor plans.  Rightmove also allows you to register for alerts for new properties coming onto the market in a chosen area.  There is also a facility under “House Prices” to check sold prices, which may be helpful for checking the selling prices of properties in your chosen area.  Rightmove has an App for phones and tablets and is useful for when you are on the go.  Visit  https://www.rightmove.co.uk/

Zoopla is an alternative site for searching for properties on the market and for checking sold prices.  It also includes statistics on property values and trends in a chosen area.  Visit  http://www.zoopla.co.uk/

If you are selling a property, don’t forget to check www.nethouseprices.com  for sold prices in your area.  If similar properties have sold recently it may indicate whether the asking price for your property is realistic.

 

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Visit  https://www.gov.uk/buy-sell-your-home/energy-performance-certificates to find out which properties require an EPC and which properties are exempt.

Visit https://www.epcregister.com/searchAssessor.html to find a Domestic Energy Assessor to produce an EPC before marketing your property.

 

Appointing a Surveyor when buying a property

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has a search facility to find a surveyor.  The site enables you to enter a town or postcode and a surveying service, eg, Residential Surveys, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), RICS HomeBuyer Reports, etc.  To find a suitably qualified surveyor in your chosen area visit  https://www.ricsfirms.com/

For information on the benefits of having a survey when buying a property, and different types of surveys visit  http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/consumer-guides/home-surveys/

 

Choosing a Solicitor

For information on choosing a solicitor visit  https://www.which.co.uk/conveyancing/conveyancing-process/england-and-wales/find-a-solicitor/  This site provides information on solicitors and conveyancers, gives an indication of typical fees and has a list of FAQs.

 

Asbestos

Any house built or refurbished before 2000 has the possibility of having asbestos containing materials (ACMs).  For information on where asbestos containing materials can be found in a property visit  http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/building.htm

If you are buying a property which contains asbestos containing materials visit  http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/member-of-public.htm

 

Flooding

There has been an increased awareness of flooding in recent years.  For information on flood risk from rivers and sea, flood risk from surface water and flood risk from reservoirs visit

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk/map

 

Bats

Many rural properties have bats.  If you are buying a property where bats are present visit http://www.bats.org.uk/  and http://www.bats.org.uk/data/files/BatsandBuildings_2012.pdf

 

Buy to Let

If you are buying a property to let then it is essential to visit https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/  for information on rights and responsibilities, tenancy deposits, houses in multiple occupation, etc.

For further information on becoming a landlord, appointing a letting agent, information on buy to let mortgages and insurance visit  https://www.which.co.uk/money/mortgages-and-property/buy-to-let

 

Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings

If you are buying a property in a Conservation Area or a property which is Listed, visit the Historic England website at  https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/your-home/owning-historic-property/conservation-area/

 

Japanese Knotweed

For information on  identification of Japanese Knotweed, prevention of spread, and disposal, visit:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-japanese-knotweed-from-spreading

 

Mobile phone coverage

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/mobile-phone-providers/article/mobile-phone-coverage-map

Not something to be overlooked.  Use this link to check the mobile phone coverage map.  You can enter a particular location (town or postcode) although some areas have more results than others.  Many service providers also produce their own data.

 

Broadband speed

Don’t forget to check the estimated broadband speed for a property before you decide to buy.  Use this link to enter your postcode or location to check any measured download and upload speeds.  Again, some areas have more results than others. https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/speedtest/streetstats/

 

And of course, don’t forget to visit other informative posts on this site including:

Is a mortgage valuation the same as a survey?

Buy to let property:  choosing, managing, student lets and landlord’s responsibilities.

Instructing a surveyor when buying a house or flat. 

What should I do after having a survey?

Should I have a survey before selling my house?

 

 

 

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1960s houses: common defects – asbestos, condensation, wall ties, pitch fibre pipes

1960s houses are now around 50 to 60 years old.  Construction methods have improved since that time particularly with regard to thermal insulation and safety.

This article deals with just some of the defects commonly found in traditionally built houses built during the 1960s (some can also be found in houses of other decades).

 

Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in 1960s houses

Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were commonly used in buildings in the 1960s.  Common uses include:

  1. Textured coatings to walls and ceilings, including Artex. Some may have had an additional coating (or coatings) applied over the years.  In any one property there may be different finishes which may have been applied at different times.  It is possible that some may contain asbestos while others may not.
  2. Asbestos cement products including soffits, verge boards, corrugated roofs to garages, flue pipes, water tanks, cladding to walls/panels, gutters and downpipes, pipes, man-made slates.  Asbestos cement products at eaves level are sometimes hidden by new PVCu fascias and soffits.
  3. Vinyl floor tiles particularly to solid ground floors, often hidden below carpets or sheet flooring.
  4. Asbestos insulating board (AIB), loose fill insulation, lagging, sprayed coatings.

If any asbestos containing materials are damaged, or if any planned works, eg, drilling, sanding, cutting, are likely to disturb any ACMs then have sample/s tested for asbestos content and obtain advice from an asbestos contractor.    Most higher risk works must be carried out by a licensed contractor while other works may be undertaken by a non-licensed contractor.

Visit  http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/

 

High heat loss and condensation

1960s houses have walls which typically allow high heat loss compared to properties built to meet the requirements of current Building Regulations.  High heat loss not only results in higher heating bills, it leads to colder surfaces and often results in condensation.  Condensation isn’t just water running down windows.  Condensation can occur within the structure and on furnishings and it can lead to mould on affected surfaces.  In some instances, condensation can be reduced or avoided by increasing the level of heating and ventilation, but where surfaces are cold, eg, window reveals, corners of rooms, walls behind furniture and where cold bridging occurs, it can be difficult to eliminate completely.

High heat loss (and condensation) can be reduced by increasing insulation.  One popular method is to install cavity wall insulation.  However, not all properties are suitable for cavity wall insulation.  If you plan to buy a house with cavity wall insulation then check the property has been assessed by a CIGA registered installer to ensure it is suitable for cavity wall insulation.  Some properties may suffer rain penetration if they are not suitable for cavity wall insulation.   Following installation, the installer will apply for, and issue, a guarantee.  The CIGA guarantee can be passed on to subsequent owners of the property.  (Similarly, if you plan to install cavity wall insulation in your property then contact a CIGA registered installer to check the property is suitable first).

Visit https://ciga.co.uk/about-ciga/

Lack of safety glass

Some 1960s houses have large windows and glazed doors which incorporate low level glazing.  These houses predate the requirement under Building Regulations for glass in critical locations, eg, at low level, to be safety glass.  Full height or low level glazing which is not safety glass will break easily and this presents a danger to occupants, particularly children.  The glass can easily be upgraded by replacing with safety glass or by applying an adhesive safety film.

 

Wall tie corrosion

The inner and outer leafs of cavity walls are usually tied with wall ties.  Houses constructed in the 1960s were often built using galvanised steel wall ties.  The steel corrodes over time and can cause cracking and/or bowing.  While wall tie corrosion is more common in older properties this is becoming more common as housing of this era ages.  If there are any signs of wall tie corrosion the condition of the ties should be checked to see if additional wall ties need to be installed.

 

Pitch fibre pipes

Pitch fibre pipes were widely used in the 1960s.  They have a tendency to deform under the load of ground, walls, traffic, etc.  This can lead to blockage of the drains or settlement of any structures above the drain runs.  If you plan to buy a property with pitch fibre drains and suspect there may be a problem then it is a good idea to arrange a CCTV survey to check their condition and establish whether they require lining or replacing.

See also How much does a survey cost?  and  What should I do after having a survey?

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