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What to look out for when buying a home

What to look out for when buying a home

There’s good reason the expression ‘falling in love’ is often used in relation to a property purchase; adoring a property you want to buy can make you blind to the faults and potential problems which lie behind the façade!

Here are the key things to look out for if you’re considering buying somewhere.


Subsidence is one of the most expensive problems to put right, and can make your house problematic to insure, or even sell later down the road. Look out for:

  • Doors which jam when opened or closed
  • Door frames which don’t look square
  • Large cracks in walls, both external and internal

Freshly painted patches

A tell-tale sign a homeowner is trying to cover up an issue is if you spot areas that have been freshly painted, but not the whole section of wall or ceiling. Ask for clear answers as to why they’ve only painted small sections.

Staining in ceilings

Water stains in ceilings can be a tell-tale sign there are leaks in roofs or from pipes. As with freshly painted areas, ask about any you see, demand clear answers, and treat those answers sceptically.


Damp is very common, especially in older properties. Check for:

  • ‘Tide’ marks (i.e. water marks) on paint
  • Peeling wallpaper or paint which is bubbling
  • Skirting boards might look a little rotten in places
  • A damp, musty smell
  • Mould


Window-frames may show signs of deterioration, and are often expensive to replace. Look out for:

  • Crumbling or rotting wood
  • Cracks where the frame is pulling away
  • Badly peeling and cracking paint

Boilers and electrics

It’s easy to fall in love with a property and overlook the boring but necessary practicalities of an up-to-date heating system. Check for:

  • Old-looking electrical fuse boxes; a house may need the fuse box replacing or even re-wiring.
  • Wires which are boxed in rather than sunk into walls (it’s a sign the wiring is old and potentially faulty)
  • Old-looking boilers and those which are poorly positioned
  • Installation dates; check for certificates
  • Safety certificates showing electrical and heating systems have been checked
  • Boiler service records


Roofs and chimneys

Take as good a look as you can at the state of the roof (binoculars can be very useful!). Be wary of:

  • Brown staining on parapets and chimneys
  • Loose tiles, render and flashing
  • Cracks in parapets and chimneys
  • Guttering in poor shape
  • Weeds growing out of guttering, and cracks and around chimneys


Policy Expert

If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare home insurance quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit for more ways to reach us.


Published 19 December 2017