Metro - 30 May 2014
Hidden problems with your property
By Jo Eccles
Research by a home insurance provider has shown that new homeowners are spending an average of just over £4,000 on ‘hidden problems’ which they didn’t foresee at the time of purchase. Whether this is because they rushed into the purchase without carrying out adequate inspections, or they simply didn’t pick up on certain issues, it’s not clear, but this can be a problem when buying a property.
Nearly a third of those questioned believed that the previous owner had deliberately tried to hide issues by painting over mould or moving furniture to hide damage, and, according to the report, the most common problems discovered were: blocked pipes (38%), faulty electrics (25%), and damaged drains (21%). As a new homeowner, it’s a fairly unpleasant surprise to move in and discover problems.
My advice to anyone buying a property is to have a survey carried out. If you’re buying a flat, the survey won’t be as thorough compared to buying a house, because the surveyor can only access certain parts of the building as access isn’t allowed in to the other flats. However, a good surveyor can still comment on a lot of the building.
Make sure you choose your surveyor carefully. I’ve read hundreds of surveys over the years and there can be a huge difference in the attention to detail, so ask your surveyor for a sample survey before you instruct them. Some surveyors will go the extra mile – I’m sure one of our surveyors could double up as an acrobat, given the nooks and crannies he manages to squeeze into.
Remember that a survey isn’t fool proof, though. A surveyor is not a qualified electrician or plumber, so if you want those checked thoroughly, you will need to commission specialist inspections on top. Usually your surveyor will make a recommendation if he/she believes extra checks are important. Also, remember that the electrical appliances aren’t often tested as standard, so again you would need to pay for extra checks. There is an element of ‘take a view’, though, as these extra checks do all add up.