As the new year approaches and 2018 edges nearer, I have something super exciting to look forward to: I’m leaving behind the first ever house I’ve bought, and moving to the other side of Cheshire, on the border of Stoke.
I bought my very own house all by myself almost three years ago, which isn’t a long time in the world of home-owning. I make it sound like a huuuuge deal, but I was 28 and I’d not long been back from living in Australia. I had a lavish life where I lived in lovely apartments in Manchester City Centre, paying high amounts for rent and driving a nice car.
My social life was always pretty incredible if I do admit myself – I had lots of circles of friends and copious amounts of blogger events happening in the city, that I was barely ever in. I always made sure I went on the holidays I wanted. So in short, it was a huge step putting down a 10% deposit all on my own, when I didn’t exactly live a quiet life whilst saving.
All this made me even more proud of my first little home – a cute little two bed end town house in North Manchester. And I’m even prouder that I did it up on a budget too! I bought various statement furniture from a second hand mill (wooden coffee tables and dining tables), I got a long of storage for cheap at IKEA, and I used a lot of my Dad’s friends to do handy man jobs, like painting, decorating and installing new radiators, helping me to keep the costs down.
It’s been the loveliest experience living in the house I made into my own home, which is why I’ll still be keeping it, but instead will be renting it out to someone who will make much more use of it than I currently do!
I’ve spent the past week or so sorting all my documents out with the estate agents to help them get the house online and available for viewings, which has made me super aware of all the important things to consider when choosing a house. So much so, I wanted to pull together a few tips that stand out to me that make choosing your next house – whether renting or buying – really important.
So here goes:
1. Recognise a roof in need of repair
Its common knowledge that when viewing a house, people barely look upwards. In actual fact, most people don’t consider the state of the roof, but it can be extremely costly later down the line if it has problems.
Does the roof look relatively new or is it caving in? If the roof is eye-catching (as in, “My, look at that gaping hole”)? A newer roof, on the other hand, could mean a lower homeowners insurance rate. Likewise, a roof made of an especially sturdy material is better equipped to defend against wind and hail (and can save you from a potential claim).
Always look up!
2. Don’t judge a room by its paint job
This was something I had to remember when choosing mine a few years back. Ignore the deco – it’s something that can be easily changed. When you step inside your prospective abode, focus on the structural stuff and don’t get distracted by wallpapers, carpets and pains.
Look at aging appliances, loose wires, cracks in the wall. The foundation will be there long after the paint has started chipping and you want that to be what lasts.
3. Take its temperature
When you’re buying a house, keep in mind: if it looks rickety or old, it probably is. Heating and cooling systems are expensive to fix and replace, and inefficient ones can eat away at your utility bills.
I didn’t check the health of my radiators when I bought my property, and had saved aside money to get a wall knocked down and a new porch built. However, when I discovered the radiators were so old are barely giving out any heat, I had to sacrifice my porch for a new boiler and 4 new radiators.
4. Plumbing: what lies beneath
When you’re poking around a new kitchen, don’t stop at eye level — get underneath the sink and examine those pipes. Check for leaks, water damage, and mould. Not only is mould unsightly and foul-smelling, but it can also cause health problems. If you live with a baby, an elderly person, or someone with asthma, you’ll want to be especially careful before moving in with mold.
Mould can also live in the top corners of the walls, joining to the ceiling. It can also be very cleverly covered up by paint, so do make sure you examine everywhere.
5. Check out the land beforehand
Don’t just look at the building — examine the area around it. Is the house in an area prone to flooding or wildfires? Is the driveway shared with another property? If there are fences, have they been built and positioned properly?
Also, try to find out before moving in who owns which fence and which side of the land – as soon as a fence breaks, it’s the first thing you’ll have to find out. If it isn’t in the deeds when you buy/rent the house, bring it up with the landlord or agency. If you don’t do this at the beginning, you’ll only have to pay for access later down the line
For more tips and advice, check out this fantastic infographic that Slater and Gordon have put together!