Make a list and check it twice


Buying a house should be a dream come true, and the best way to avoid a nightmare is by being sure of what you’re getting.

It’s a good idea to have a professional inspect a potential home before you sign the papers, although by carrying out your own inspection before bringing in the big guns, you can save time and money early on.

If you’re not sure where to start, consumer.org.nz has compiled a house inspection checklist.

Here are some of their suggestions for both new and second-hand houses:

Ask the real estate agent, seller or developer:

  • Whether there are protection orders over trees or buildings on the property?
  • What is the zoning, not only of the property but also those adjoining?
  • Are there any caveats or other charges entered on the property’s title?
  • Is there, or has there been a claim to the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service?
  • What is the government rating valuation? (new houses may not have one)
  • Whether all building consents have been obtained? In particular ask to see the completion certificate if the house is reasonably new or if alterations have recently been carried out.
  • How much are the rates?
  • What fittings and chattels are included in the price – things like floor coverings, bookshelves and light fittings?

Maintenance

  • Will there be ongoing work required? What needs to be done immediately?
  • How easy will it be to renovate or extend the property?

If you can, speak to the neighbours

Do they have any disputes regarding the property you intend buying, or major plans for their property, which may affect you (such as extensions to their house, which will obscure your view)?

For second-hand houses, ask the seller or agent:

  • Why the owners are selling
  • Has the place been recently rewired? If so, ask to see the electrician’s Certifcate of Compliance.
  • What repairs and renovations are needed now?
  • Can you afford any immediate work required?

Check for signs of damp and rust. Check the weatherboards and outside walls.  Could any problems be hidden behind fresh cement, paint or cladding?  Tap suspect wood – if it sounds spongy and dead, beware!

Check the roof

  • Are there any signs of rust (or new paint possibly hiding rust) or cracked tiles?
  • Look at the gutters.  Are there any signs of rust or cracking, or fresh paint hiding this?
  • Are the fences in good condition?

Inside the house

  • Is there sufficient natural light?
  • Are there enough rooms of the right size?
  • Check the room layout and orientation to the sun.
  • Is the use of space efficient?
  • Is there adequate privacy?
  • Is noise control within the house adequate?
  • Is the kitchen suitable?  Is there a pantry?
  • Check the quality of the TV reception.
  • Is there adequate storage?
  • Is the house insulated?
  • Check that window and doorframes are in good condition.
  • Do the doors close properly?
  • How about internet?
  • Is there a burglar alarm?
  • Turn on the shower.  Make sure it has good pressure and is hot.

Outside the house

  • Location – how close is it to the school, bus stops, shops, work, neighbours, etc?
  • Is there adequate street lighting?
  • Is road noise likely to be a problem?
  • Does the property get enough sun in the right places? Check at different times of the day. How much sun will you get in winter?
  • There should be no gaps or cracks in the weatherboards or cladding to let in rain.
  • Is the property likely to flood in heavy rain?  Is it near a river?
  • Are retaining walls sound?  Are there any bare banks that should have retaining walls?
  • Is the soil reasonable for gardening?
  • Is there a carport, garage, parking?  What is access like to the house?
  • Is the clothesline near the laundry?
  • Is there any dampness around windows and doors?

The entire checklist can be found at consumer.org.nz.