15 things to check when viewing a property

December 29, 2021
energy efficiency
EPC ratings
Home improvements
How To

When viewing a property that you are interested in buying or renting, it can be easy to overlook some significant flaws. Use the below checklist to guide your assessment:

  1. Look for signs of damp. Damp can make a property unpleasant to live in and can damage it over the long-term. It is particularly prevalent within older buildings. Telltale signs include bubbles in the wallpaper, mould on ceilings, rotting window frames and a musty smell. Watch out for signs of recent repainting, which could be an attempt to cover it up.
  2. Check the electrics. Electrics can be extremely expensive to replace, so make sure that they are adequate. Consider things like the location and condition of plug sockets.
  3. Neighbour noise. Focus on walls or ceilings that the property shares with neighbours, and try to visit the property at different times, as many homes that are quiet during the day will become noisy at night. If a TV or radio is on during the viewing, ask for it to be turned off, as it may be an attempt to disguise a noise issue.
  4. Traffic noise. Similarly, check for noise coming from nearby roads, railways and flight paths.
  5. Look for a nearby pub. Popping in for a drink or something to eat can give you a good sense of the area.
  6. Check the roof. Look for signs of damage or wear and tear, as roof repair can be extremely expensive. If there is a chimney, watch out for signs that it is off-centre as repointing can also be expensive.
  7. Verify which way the house faces. Determine whether any parts of the property face south, as this can make the difference between a home that is warm and bright and one that feels a little dingy. Check also whether any trees, fences or other buildings could potentially block the sun reaching the garden on property itself. Consider using the Sun Surveyor app, which can help you understand how the sun will move in relation to your property.
  8. Check the phone signal. Check the signal status on your phone during your visit and, if possible, try calling someone else who is with you (e.g., the agent or your partner).
  9. Check the storage space. Assess the availability of cupboards, garages or under-stair spaces.
  10. Verify that your furniture fits. It can be easy to misjudge the space available when you view a property that is empty or has someone else’s furniture in it. Consider measuring your main pieces of furniture before your visit and take a measuring tape to help you gauge how well these will fit.
  11. Ask to see the loft. This helps you gauge the condition of the roof, assess whether a loft conversion is possible and check whether there is any insulation present.
  12. Watch out for cracks. Small cracks are common in both old and new houses, and are often nothing to worry about. But large cracks should be assessed by a professional surveyor.
  13. Check the plumbing. Turn on taps and run the shower to assess the strength of the stream and the time it takes for water to heat up. If this doesn’t seem adequate, remember that it could significantly diminish the liveability of the property and will be costly to upgrade.
  14. Test the heating. Turn on the heating to check how responsive it is. Confirm when the boiler was installed, its service history and whether it is covered by warranty. Consider also its energy efficiency.
  15. Look at the neighbouring houses. The condition of these can tell you a lot about the people living in them.

For all of the above, try to reach your own conclusions without relying on what the estate agent or listing tells you.