If you are buying a house in winter which is vacant there are a few extra items which need to be checked, particularly if the water has been turned off.
If you are buying a house in winter and it is occupied then the chances are that it is being heated (at least in part) and the service installations are being used. But if you are buying a house in winter which is vacant there are a few extra items which need to be checked, particularly if the water has been turned off and the heating system drained down.
If the water has been turned off you will not be able to check the water pressure, working order of the fittings, watertightness of pipework or be able to check whether the drains are flowing freely. Ask the selling agent to arrange for the vendor to turn the water on so that these items can be checked by specialists before you agree to purchase the property.
When the water is turned on, arrange for a heating contractor (contact a Gas Safe Registered contractor if the heating is gas) to inspect and test the heating and hot water system. Have its age and condition checked and make sure the boiler is a sufficient size to adequately heat the property.
If the house is damp, check whether this is simply condensation due to the house not being adequately heated and ventilated, or whether there is rising dampness or penetrating dampness. If there is rising dampness or penetrating dampness find out the specific cause/s of the dampness and deal with the defect/s. Some replastering may be required if plasterwork has been affected by salts. See also Buying a 1930s House. Consider instructing a Chartered Surveyor to report on any dampness and/or condensation issues. This can be checked as part of a detailed house survey. Visit RICS Find A Surveyor to find a surveyor in your area.
Check whether and drains or gullies have become blocked by leaves. Check whether gutters need clearing to avoid overflowing and/or rain penetration which may lead to dampness internally and staining externally.
After several viewings you have finally accepted an offer on your house. You are most likely to be in a chain and do not wish to delay things. The last thing you want at this stage is to lose your buyer which, in turn, might mean that you cannot proceed with the purchase of your new home as planned. While you may not be able to speed up the process there may be some things you can do to make things go more smoothly and avoid delays at a later stage.
You might ask, “What can I do to ease the sale of my house?”
If you have had any works carried out which required Local Authority approvals such extensions which required Building Regulation Approval and/or Planning Permission, or any other works which required Building Regulation Approval, then make one copy of the documents to hand to your solicitor and keep a further copy for prospective purchasers to see. It is much easier if this information is available at the outset and will avoid delays at a later date.
Get together any documents such as service documents for the central heating installation and any test certificates you may have for the electrical installation. If, say, you have had the central heating serviced regularly on a service contract then it is a good idea that your buyer knows that this has been done. A property which has been maintained is much more attractive to a buyer.
If any replacement windows or doors have been fitted then get together any receipts and warranties, including FENSA certificate/s.
If cavity wall insulation has been installed to your property then forward a copy of the CIGA guarantee to your solicitor.
Above all, be honest. If the central heating hasn’t been serviced recently then the buyer will know to get this attended to. Likewise, if any alterations have been carried out it is better that the buyer is aware of what has been done so they can have things checked if necessary. In some cases where works have been carried out by a previous owner it is possible that there will be no such documentation.