Last Updated on 19th May 2021

When considering buying a new home, you can be overwhelmed with the number of tasks you need to do for each home you’re interested in. You need to check out the local shopping options, the commuting highways, the restaurants, leisure activities and schools for your children. However, this can veer your eyes away from an important task, in that you are sure you’re buying the home you think you are. One of the worst feelings you can have, is making a huge purchase like buying a home and then realizing that it has major flaws. These are flaws that will cost money to fix. Damage that you weren’t warned about, decorating challenges that you weren’t aware of and even things like needing to strengthen the exterior from the elements, could be hidden from you. So here are some things to do and watch out for so you don’t get hoodwinked.

Can you update it?

Redecorating might be something you’re considering when buying a new home. To truly make your new home your own, it’s a good idea to tear down the old wallpaper and put up your own. You may wish to repaint the walls too. However, sometimes, the plaster is so old or made with older materials, that you can’t pull off the wallpaper, without damaging the walls. 

So ask the owner a few things.

  • How old is the glue or plaster that is on the walls?
  • Has there ever been any water damage to the walls?
  • Has there ever been a case of mold that has affected the walls?
  • When was the last time they updated the home, i.e. put on new plaster?
  • Is there any damage to the brickwork? 

You can of course repair brickwork but it’s a good idea to check with the owner that the walls are not crumbling and thus, not allowing you to decorate them. Sometimes, minimalist homes have bare brickwork and checking the quality of this is key if you do intend to pave over them with new wallpaper. 

Hidden floor damage

One of the things that home viewers can be easily hoodwinked by, is damage to the floor. If the floor has carpet, it can be easy to hide stains. If the carpets are dark, they can hide stains, water damage, mold and more. But what about floorboards? Here are some things to ask the owner about their floors. 

  • Has the floor been replaced? If so, why?
  • How old are the floorboards? 
  • What kind of wood is being used for the flooring? Some woods are more flexible than others and this can result in creeks and cracking sounds when they are stepped on.
  • Has there ever been water damage to the floor, i.e. burst water pipe or fire?
  • Have you had to repair individual floorboards or replace them because of their old age?

Sometimes, homeowners can hide floor damage by covering damaged areas with mats and rugs. If something doesn’t feel right when standing on a rug or mat, then you should try to look underneath it when you have the chance. If you’re viewing as a couple, have one of you go onto the next part of the home while one of you hangs back. When the owner is looking the other way and chatting with your spouse, lift up the rug and see if the damage is lying underneath.

Roof damage

Roof damage is not something that is always visible from the outside. It’s kind of strange but sometimes, roof damage is internal. This might be due to rotting support beams, or perhaps an infestation of critters that have damaged the attic. You should always ask to take a look at the roof. The owner has no right to deny you from taking a look, and if they try to prevent you from doing so, you can always ask the estate agent to let you have a look or you will not take your interest any further.

Here’s what to look for when inspecting a roof.

  • Are the tiles cracked?
  • Do you see different color tiles? This is when patches of the roof have been repaired or replaced. This is usually because there was roof damage, either from wind or rain.
  • Does the roof look crooked? This could be due to a reshaping of the roof, due to damage. It could also be because the owners had to replace the support beams and the overall design had to be shifted.
  • Can you see rust from the funnels on the roof? This suggests that they have not replaced them and this can cause leaking into the home over time.
  • Are their ceiling stains? This is obviously due to a leak somewhere.

You can always ask for a roof report. This is something that estate agents can do for you but at cost. They will hire a professional home inspector to take a look at the roof from the inside and outside. A clear way to see damage is when the shingles have become loose. 

Fire damage

You may think that noticing fire damage would be easy, but this is not always the case. Fire damage does leave black stains on the walls and ceilings, but this can easily be painted over. The owners might have put up new wallpaper to hide their fire damage. This is another reason to ask when their wallpaper was put up!

The estate agent has to tell you if there is any fire damage but they can skirt around the issue so asking them isn’t always concrete. So here are some things to look out for. 

  • Fire damage can leave behind black stains on the floors as well. So take a look in the corners of every room, if you suspect anything wrong.
  • Fire damage leaves behind brittle materials, wood creeks more often as a result. Is one room particularly creeky? 
  • If there is bare brick somewhere, check to see it doesn’t have black stains either. 

You could also phone the local fire departments and check with them, if they have been called out to the house you’re viewing. They always hold records so it’s a good idea to see.

What if you do have remorse?

What if you have bought a home and some of these things we’ve mentioned, have already been noticed? Don’t be alarmed, as you can still get some kind of monetary payback from the owners and or the estate agent. 

Call a team of trusted Solicitors and they fight for compensation. Just search for the legal service you need and the location you are based in. Then select the solicitor team you want. There are a number of things they could do for you. 

Firstly, they could challenge the seller with the tried and trusted, ‘selling a product without fully disclosing flaws or defects’. The owner needs to admit to the estate agent if there are any flaws in the home. Even if it’s minor damage like a small hole or dent in a wall. They have to tell the estate agent who in turn, will inform you. The estate agent will almost always tell you because they essentially, have to by law. However if the homeowner hid details from them, and the estate agent couldn’t notice the defects and damage by themselves, you won’t know either.

Another way the solicitors can fight for you is, challenge the seller with endangerment. This is when the damage is so severe that you or your family could have been hurt by it. For example, the seller didn’t disclose fire damage that occurred to the stairs. What if the stairs collapsed when one of your children was going upstairs? Take this seriously!

A flawed design

Sometimes, homeowners will redesign their home to make it more sellable. For example, they might have gone with an open floor plan. This is when a wall is taken out and the floor is made into one giant room. However, if the owners didn’t properly design the home, this could have made it weaker. If the home wasn’t given additional support due to the wall being removed, it could be a hazard waiting to happen.

So, you should always ask for approval letters by local authorities and regulators if there has been a major redesign. This way, you can see if the home has essentially been ‘signed off’ on. The approval of the experts that the home is safe with this new design, is the thing that will allow you to sleep soundly at night; should you choose to buy the home. 

Don’t become a victim of your own negligence. When you’re looking to buy a home, always check for any of these signs. Fire, water and roof damage are the major concerns you should be aware of. But if they have redesigned or replaced something major like flooring, then you should keep your wits about you. And don’t forget, always take up your suspicions and concerns with the estate agent. 

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