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What to Look for in a New House

Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you’ll potentially ever make. Emotions are running high with excitement, stress, fear, and finally the big payoff.

That is if you’re careful and avoid the pitfalls we all face while looking for a new home, which brings me along to today’s topic here are ten things to look out for when looking for your new home.

1: Recognise a roof in need of repairs:

Before you even go inside, take a glance up at the roof. Does it look like it’s been there since before you were born? Is the roof caving in/slanting or does it have any major damage? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may want to reconsider as it may end up costing you in the long run.

A newer roof however could mean a lower insurance rate, and if it’s made of an especially sturdy material its better equipped to deal with all kinds of winter weather. This could potentially save you a small fortune in insurance claims.

2: Heating and cooling performance:

Needing central heating or air conditioning and not having it is a big issue.
Make sure you check the heating and cooling systems to see if they’re in good working order and also that they meet your requirements. Ask how old the system is, turn it on and off, take a look outside too. Listen to it while it’s running. Look for dust and dirt on the equipment. If you’re happy enough with your initial inspection, get the system inspected by a professional. If there’s anything wrong they’ll spot what you missed.

If the unit may need replacing, get a quote for installation, labour and equipment and have a talk with the homeowner about reducing the selling price to allow for it.

3: Don’t judge a room based on its paint job:

When you walk into your potential new home, focus on the structure rather than the aesthetic. Aging appliances, loose wires, signs of infestation, working windows, water damage, internet connection/speeds in the area, etc. Ignore that new paint job and fancy décor, the foundation will be there for long after the paint has peeled and between the two that’s what you want to last.

4: Examine your parking options

Do not underestimate the importance of off-street parking. Kids might be a long way off, but struggling to find a spot off the street with a boot full of shopping and a screeching toddler won’t be so much fun in a few years’ time.

5 : Don’t become obsessed with square footage

When it comes to a home, bigger is not always better. Can the house be adapted to suit your needs? Look carefully at the proportions of the house and garden. Building an extension might mean you lose precious garden space or you might find that another room becomes redundant as a result of space lost. Tread carefully.

6: Look at what’s being planned for the future of the area.

Run a planning search for the neighbouring areas and lands surrounding the house. This is very easy – all of the councils have a planning search facility that works by typing in an address. It will let you see what development is planned for the area and what the precedents for work similar to what you might plan to do yourself are. You’ll also be able to see any conditions on similar developments and plan accordingly.

7: What’s the area like?

  • Are you near anywhere that has the potential to get loud/rowdy in the evening such as a pub or club?
  • Is there a shop that you can walk to if you run out of bread or milk or would you have to drive?
  • Are there public transport links nearby?
  • Are there noisy roads/train tracks nearby? Is it on a flight path?
  • Is there a local dump in smelling distance?
  • Are you near a school that makes it impossible to get out of your drive at school run time?
  • Do you feel like you could make it your home?

8: Plan your budget

When you’re thinking about your offer for a house, take into account of what you will need to spend to make necessary changes once you’ve bought it. Be mindful of spending too much, if properties on the road go for about €750,000, doing work that pushes the value up to €950,000 isn’t always the best idea if there’s a possibility the property may be sold on in the future.

9: Turning it into your ideal home

If you’ve found a property that ticks a lot of important boxes but have some uncertainty around transforming it into your dream home, take a look to see if there are any houses on the street that have had work done and ask if they’ll let you take a look. They may also be able to tell you about any issues they encountered during the process of getting the work done.

This goes double for older properties, which often have hidden pitfalls that are difficult to foresee until the work has started. Take note if it is a protected property also, as this will mean that making changes will require a conservation report and extra planning.

10: Look for opportunities to add value to the property

Additions such as an extra bedroom or bathroom can increase the value of your property by as much as 15%! However you need to make sure you have the headroom to convert your attic space and not every property has. Fear not though, smaller scale domestic extensions such as a conservatory also add value and do not require planning permission to the rear of the house if they don’t increase the original floor area by more than 40 square meters providing the house has not been extended before.

For terraced or semi-detached houses, this changes slightly, the floor area of any first-floor extension should not exceed 12 square meters and this figure must include any previous extensions carried out.

Most property pitfalls can be spotted by simply keeping your eyes open, being clear about what you’re looking for and being vigilant about questioning anything you’re unsure about. If something you’re unsure about is beyond your expertise it does not hurt to ask a professional and it could save you a small fortune in repairs long term.

A home is usually the most (or certainly one of the most) expensive things we buy in our lifetime and although you may be excited, or possibly just dying to get it over with, it’s worth investing time, patience and money into, to get it right first time rather than discovering you’re now stuck with a nightmare down the line.