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4 key things to check before you buy

‘Buyer beware’ is the principle that governs property transactions in the UK. This places the onus squarely on the buyer to discover any problems that might impact the purchase price, and even the decision to proceed, before it all becomes legally binding when contracts are exchanged.

Buying a home is huge financial commitment, so it is critical to ensure the investment is worth the money. Chartered Surveyors such are on hand to help with independent professional advice and expert guidance to help you get the most from your purchase. Here at Cosey Homes, we have a solid track record of providing a high-quality impartial service, with a choice of residential property surveys to suit every need.

Here are the top 4 things that we advise every homebuyer to check before making a legal commitment.

1 – Damp

The presence of damp in a property can be a major nuisance. Tell-tale signs include staining or discoloration on walls or ceilings, peeling wallpaper, condensation or a musty smell. Luckily, in the majority of cases it is treatable but this comes at a cost. A Building Survey (Level 3) will identify areas of concern in the building, and point to possible causes such as poor ventilation, a poorly maintained exterior or no damp proof course. If damp is found, the survey report will recommend further investigations to get to the bottom of the problem and suggest appropriate remedial action. A specialist damp survey may be money well spent.

2 – Roof

Give the roof a once over from street level. Are there missing tiles, blocked guttering or rotting woodwork? This could be an indication that the roof has not been well maintained. Does the roof itself look relatively new compared to neighbouring properties? While much of this information should be covered in a home survey, it’s always good to be financially prepared for repair and maintenance expenditure to roofs, chimneys and roofline products.

3 – Services

Whether you choose a RICS HomeBuyer Report or RICS Building Survey (Level 3), it is important to recognise that our surveyors are not specialists in gas, electricity or drainage issues. Your survey will consider the services present at the property, but we are not certified to comment on services and will always advise further investigation to assess their functionality.

Central Heating

Take a close look at the central heating boiler – what type, how old, what’s the service history? Boilers should be checked annually for CO2 emissions and flue efficiency. If the boiler is more than 10 years old, you could be looking at a replacement, which can cost several thousands. Of course, if the heating system is ancient, you will have to factor the cost of upgrading it into your budget.

Plumbing & drainage

Unsatisfactory plumbing is more common than you may think. It’s worth flushing the toilet, running the taps and even the shower to check whether water pressure and flow rates are adequate. Does that water drain away freely? Are there any unpleasant smells coming from kitchen or bathroom drains? What about dripping taps? You may not realise that even a slow dripping tap can lose over 180 litres of water a day, so this should not be ignored. Clearly, if a bathroom refit or additional facilities are required, the purchase price should reflect this.


Make sure you turn lights on and off and ensure you get at least a glimpse at the fuse board. Does everything look recently installed, relatively modern, or hopelessly old-fashioned? Are the electrics faulty or fit for purpose? Are there enough light fittings and power sockets in the right places? And what about energy efficient lighting solutions? While light fittings can be changed and extra sockets installed by a qualified electrician at moderate cost, the expense of rewiring a typical 3-bedroom house will run into thousands.

4 – Windows & Doors

Are doors and windows in good condition? Are they fully functional, draught proofed and double glazed, with secure locking systems in place? Poorly maintained windows and doors means more heat loss and greater heating bills. Installing new windows may be expensive, as are repairs to period windows. Your home security may be compromised if locks are not up to insurance standards.

Buying a home ought to be a considered and sensible financial decision. If you would like to discuss your next property purchase with a team of experienced surveyors, Cosey Homes would be delighted to help. Why not get in touch today?

UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
Cosey Homes offer the full range RICS home surveys from Level 1 - 3 with national coverage provided by our experienced local property surveying team.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only and not intended as advice. Each property has its own set of unique circumstances, all potential issues should be investigated by a surveyor on a case by case basis before making any decision.