It’s not easy to pick the right property to suit your entire family. Most of us look for a certain number of bedrooms in a particular area. But we also need to know we are investing wisely. It’s important that the house we choose increases in value over time. And it’s very important that the structure is sound to keep our family safe and secure at all times. How can you be sure you won’t find a host of horrors when you finally move in? There are all kinds of things that can be very expensive to remedy in a house. Poor quality plumbing and faulty or dangerous boilers can cause a lot of worries. Your mortgage company is likely to undertake a survey of the building to ensure no subsidence is evident. This survey is not in-depth enough to confirm there are no other expensive problems that will concern you, though. Getting your own survey can help you avoid costly repair bills. You can then use the results of this survey to negotiate a reduced purchase price, repairs before the sale, or a cancellation of the agreement. Thanks to Flickr.com for the pic Of course, there are many things you can do before you put an offer on a property to give you some peace of mind that all is well in a house. Start by choosing a reputable estate agent. They will have thoroughly inspected the property and will have all the details to hand that you may want to know. You can usually get good info from Bridgfords.co.uk or the agent you use. Then you’ll be able to use that to find out more useful information about the building and the owners. Thanks to Taxrebate.org.uk at Flickr.com for the pic Check your local authority website before you view a property. It will list much of the history of the property and is free to view. You will see any planning consent granted and the certificates of building regulation works. You can also find out when the property was built and the building company responsible. A little background and fact checking can go a long way here. Use a search engine to find out more about the builders. Are they still in business? Have they received any complaints or penalty notices? Before you waste your time viewing a property internally, check it out externally in private. Have a look for damage to the chimney and brickwork. This could be a sign of very serious problems that will be very expensive to rectify. Check the presentation of the house. If the gardens are full of rubbish and look unkempt, it may suggest the owners have not taken good care or maintenance of the house. Walk around the neighbourhood in the evenings. Is it noisy? It’s worth checking out the property during rush hour if it is on a main road. Lots of traffic may prevent you opening windows in the height of summer. Wander by while it’s raining and check the guttering isn’t overflowing. Make a list of facilities and rooms you absolutely must have. Next to it, make a list of things you might be willing to live without but would prefer to have them. For each property you see, tick off the list to check you’re getting everything you might need. Internal viewings should be as thorough as you can make them. Don’t be embarrassed to look through the cupboards if they are fitted. You might find signs of damp or poor installation that could indicate bigger issues. Check under the sinks and toilet for leaks or stains. Run the taps, the showers and flush the toilet. You’ll soon find out if the hot water boiler doesn’t work or the toilets are clogged! Thanks to Flickr.com for the pic Turn on the wall lights, and check the oven and hob work. Even if you’re changing the kitchen, you may have to use what’s there for a while. Open all the windows to ensure they are fitted well. Lift up rugs to check the condition of the carpets. And don’t be afraid to peek behind furniture for signs of damage or damp. Finally, use your nose. If you can smell something musty, damp or unpleasant, chances are there is something wrong with the house. If you get a chance to meet the owners, ask them lots of questions. What side of the house does the sun come up? What are the neighbours like? How long does it take to get into town? If you view the place with a friend, send them upstairs so you can hear if there are any creaky floorboards that might bother you over time. Can they hear your conversation from up there? That might be a problem if you’re trying to get your kids to sleep at night. Thanks to Flickr.com for the pic Don’t forget to thoroughly inspect the garden. You’ll need to be certain all the boundary fences and gates are fully secure. Is the garden excessively boggy? Will it need a landscaper to come in and make it usable or is it perfectly serviceable now? There will, of course, be lots of expenses when you move in. You will want to make the place your own. But if you need the house to be safe, clean, and fully functional from day one, you must make all these checks now. Once your offer has been accepted, your solicitor will also perform legal checks on the property. This confirms the current owners are legally able to sell it, and it will clearly identify your boundaries. Always ask questions as the information comes in. You can visit the property as much as you like to help clarify your thoughts. And if you do choose to back out of the sale, then this will work out much cheaper for you in the long term. While it is unusual to find a house from hell on the market these days, most houses come with a few problems. The current owners wouldn’t be moving if the property was perfect for them. So find out what the problems are, and decide if you’re willing to deal with them yourself. You may be able to use them as a negotiation tactic, but at the end of the day, it will become your risk. Good luck in your new home.