Decorating an old house

Unlike decorating a modern house, unless the property has been maintained to a high standard it is likely that extra preparation will be needed when decorating an old house.

Decorating an old house can be rewarding.  After moving in to your new home no doubt you will be keen to add your personal touches to turn the house you have just purchased into your home.  But unlike decorating a modern house, unless the property has been maintained to a high standard it is likely that extra preparation will be needed.

 

Before decorating an old house:

  1. Check whether any areas of wall plaster require replacement, such as plaster which has been affected by dampness and/or salts, or where it has become unbonded.  If plaster finishes contain salts (sometimes present even after damp proofing works have been carried out) have the affected areas of plaster replaced with a salt retardant plaster.
  2. Ensure any lath and plaster ceilings are firm.  Lath and plaster ceilings can become unbonded over time and can be extremely messy if they fail.
  3. Carry out any repairs and/or alterations to the room/s which are to be decorated, such as rewiring, plastering, replacement of windows, kitchen or bathroom fittings, etc.
  4. Check whether there are any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in the property.  If any ACMs are going to be disturbed, eg, by cutting, drilling, sanding, etc, then then you should contact an asbestos removal contractor.  ACMs can be found in many forms, visit:  

http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/common-materials.htm http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/building.htm

 

Tips when decorating an old house:

  1. Don’t use a steamer to remove wall and ceiling coverings from lath and plaster.  The steam may cause the plaster to become unbonded leading to repairs or replacement.
  2. Ideally choose decorations which will allow the walls to breathe, such as emulsion.  Do not use vinyl coverings as they may entrap moisture.
  3. If there are stains on chimney breasts, seal the stains with a proprietary stain blocker before decorating to avoid the stain showing through new paintwork.
  4. If wall surfaces are uneven, the plaster surface could be skimmed to improve the finish.
  5. Consider decorative effects such as rag rolling or use of a sponge to disguise imperfect plaster finishes.
  6. Don’t be tempted to remove or block vents or fireplaces.  Ventilation is essential to reduce levels of condensation, which may in turn affect decorations.

 

Finishing touches when decorating an old house:

  1. If internal joinery such as skirtings, architraves, doors, etc, need replacing, try to match the existing profile to maintain the character of the property.
  2. Where features such as fireplaces have been removed, try to find a suitable replacement, possibly from a local reclamation yard.

Visit also DIY in the home.

buying and selling a house

 

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Mortgage Valuation: Is it really a bad thing if your house is down valued?

Unless you are happy to pay more than a house is worth, it may not be not such a bad thing if your mortgage valuation is less than you had been prepared to pay.

Is your mortgage valuation less than the agreed purchase price?

A number of buyers purchasing a property with a mortgage see the mortgage valuation as a potential hiccup in their purchase.  If a buyer is relying on a mortgage with a large loan to value they may not be able to proceed as planned if the lender’s Valuer provides a valuation lower than the agreed purchase price.   Similarly, some buyers are concerned that the mortgage valuation may lead to a buyer pulling out (or making a lower offer) if they don’t get the mortgage offer they had expected.

If you had your heart set on a particular property and find you are unable to proceed (unless you use some of your own funds) then at minimum this is likely to be a disappointment.  If you have to start and look for another suitable property this may cause a delay, which could possibly lead to problems with the chain and you may even lose your own buyer.

But is it really a bad thing if your mortgage valuation is less than the purchase  price?

If you spend the time finding out why the property has been valued lower than the price you have agreed to pay, you may find there is a good reason.  A Valuer will use details of similar properties which have recently sold or are under offer, in conjunction with their knowledge of the local area, to arrive at the valuation figure.  It is possible that you have made an offer which is too high.  Other factors which may affect value include:

  1. Condition of the property (remember that a valuation is not a survey).
  2. Tenure.
  3. Works carried out without Local Authority approvals.
  4. Planning proposals which may affect the property.
  5. Detrimental use of land/property in the vicinity.

Once you establish the reason for the lender’s valuation being less than your agreed purchase price, you may wish to revise your offer, or even reconsider the purchase.  So, unless you are happy to pay more than a house is worth, perhaps it is not such a bad thing if your mortgage valuation is less than you had been prepared to pay.

buying and selling a house

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DIY in the home

Remember to stick to the jobs which are within your capability and expertise and employ specialists where necessary to ensure works are carried out safely and to the required standard. 

Whether you’ve recently moved house, are preparing to put your house on the market or simply wish to catch up on maintenance or make some improvements, a Bank Holiday weekend gives an extra day to tackle some DIY in the home.  

But take care.  Many accidents in the home or garden could be avoided by taking necessary precautions.

  1. Ensure there is adequate ventilation when using paint, solvents, etc.
  2. Be careful when using ladders or step ladders. Make sure they are in a good condition, used not on a sound surface and have someone to foot when in use.
  3. Wear appropriate safety clothing when using tools such as goggles, mask, dust mask, gloves, footwear, etc, when carrying out DIY in the home.
  4. Take care when using tools.  Read the operating instructions and take note of safety. Only use tools for their intended purpose and which you know how to use safely.
  5. Keep children and pets at a safe distance.
  6. Do not attempt to carry out any works which require specialist knowledge and training such as electrical works, works to gas appliances, installation of wood burning stoves, etc.  Instruct relevant specialists for such work.
  7. Do not carry out any structural alterations without obtaining advice.  Structural alterations are controlled by Building Regulations and in many cases require design by an Engineer.
  8. Do not disturb any materials which may contain asbestos when carrying out DIY in the home.  Asbestos can be found in many materials used in houses built up to 2000, including cement soffit sheets, textured coatings to walls and ceilings, asbestos cement pipes and gutters, some types of insulation, and more.  If there is a possibility that a product contains asbestos then have it tested and obtain advice on it’s removal and disposal from a specialist.  Visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/

Remember to stick to the jobs which are within your capability and expertise and employ specialists where necessary to ensure works are carried out safely and to the required standard.

 

 

buying and selling a house

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Choosing a survey: Does it really matter what your survey report is called?

When choosing a survey, the name of the survey report does not really matter.  The most important thing is to check what your report will cover and make sure it will provide the information you are looking for. 

What type of survey should we have?  This is a question many house buyers ask when choosing a survey, puzzled at the assortment of terms, including Building Survey, Homebuyer Report, Condition Report, and more.

Putting terminology aside, what do most buyers want from a survey?  A typical house buyer would want to be aware of any repairs needed, the urgency of any repairs and have an idea of costs involved.

Some buyers choose a property knowing that works will be required and the survey will help them plan the works and obtain estimates from contractors.  After all, there is little point going ahead with fitting out a new kitchen or decorating when more disruptive works such as rewiring need to be attended to first. On the other hand, some buyers seek a property which needs as little work as possible (although, inevitably it is likely that some work will be necessary).

Whatever the name of the survey, it is important to check what will be included.  Most pre-purchase surveys have a similar level of inspection, but the information within the report can vary from one surveyor to another.  This can be due to the level of knowledge and experience of the surveyor and the amount of time spent carrying out the survey and preparing the report.  Some firms place high demands on their surveyors and expect two (and sometimes more!) surveys to be carried out in a day, whereas other firms allow more time for each survey and are more likely to produce a more thorough and detailed report (which may be reflected in the cost).

In a nutshell, when choosing a survey, the name of the survey report does not really matter.  The most important thing is to check what your report will cover and make sure it will provide the information you are looking for.  And most importantly, make sure you choose the right surveyor, ideally someone who has been recommended to you and is familiar with the local area.

 

buying and selling a house

 

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Why do surveyors ask for further investigations?

An experienced surveyor will be able to use his or her knowledge and experience to assess whether there are likely to be any hidden defects which require further investigations.  

Some buyers may wonder why their surveyor has asked for further investigations or a report from a specialist.  Firstly, it is important to remember what the surveyor was instructed to do.  Typically, a surveyor would carry out a single inspection.  The property may be occupied, furnished, have floor coverings and in some cases there may be many stored items which hamper the inspection.   In most cases a surveyor would not carry out any opening up to inspect hidden areas such as floor timbers, wall ties, etc (unless previously agreed and with the permission of the vendor).

Most properties will have some restrictions to the inspection including:

  1. Roof spaces without access hatches or with unsafe access, for instance where a roof hatch is positioned above a stairwell.
  2. Floor voids without access and floor timbers generally.
  3. Areas covered by furniture and/or floor coverings.
  4. Areas at high level, such as behind parapets, stacks, or simply not visible due to the roof configuration or height.
  5. Flat roofs to upper storeys, including bay roofs.
  6. Wall ties within cavities.
  7. Underground drainage runs.

Even though not all parts of a building may be visible, an experienced surveyor will be able to use his or her knowledge and experience to assess whether there are likely to be any hidden defects which require further investigations.

For instance, a surveyor will recognise the distinctive pattern of cracking associated with wall tie corrosion and may recommend that a sample of ties is checked using a borescope (instrument to view within a cavity).

Similarly, if movement is noted and there is a possibility of defective drains which may affect the property, the surveyor may recommend a CCTV survey to confirm the route and condition of the hidden drains.

Also, a surveyor may suspect rot and/or woodworm to a timber floor even without an inspection, particularly if there is springiness, dampness and/or a lack of ventilation.  Further investigations may be recommended in the form of opening up, to establish the extent of defects and repairs needed.

In addition to further investigations, a surveyor may ask for one or more specialist reports, such as from an electrician, Gas Safe contractor or HETAS engineer.  This is simply because these are specialist matters which need input from the appropriately trained and qualified specialist.

After reading your survey report, don’t feel inconvenienced if any further investigations or specialist reports are recommended.  This is simply part of the process of finding out the true condition of the property you are thinking of buying so that you can proceed with the purchase in full knowledge of the condition.

buying and selling a house

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