The Local Heroes First Time Buyer’s Guide 2021
The stamp duty holiday has been extended, the government’s new 95% mortgage scheme is being rolled out and lockdown is gradually lifting. All this means that a house buying boom could be upon us.
It’s an exciting time but big decisions await. And for people taking their first step on the property ladder, there’s a lot to think about. Luckily Local Heroes can help movers take on the tasks ahead.
In this article, we will outline our top ten tips for first-time buyers. We’ll also flag potential costs people should be aware of if things need fixing.
Some quick maths..
Some of the issues listed in this article around plumbing, heating, electrics, plastering and drainage might cost well into the £1000s to get things fixed.
So don’t be afraid to bring up any potential costs to see if you can get a better price on the property.
1. Check out the water tanks
Unless the property has a combi boiler, there’ll be a hot water cylinder in a cupboard somewhere, and possibly a cold water tank in the loft.
Watch out for any cracks or leaks – if a hot water tank is running out of water quickly, it can cost over £300 to fix.
2. Check the taps and radiators for signs of leaks
Stains or a build-up of limescale under a tap could indicate a drip. It’s also worth giving your radiators a thorough check. Pay particular attention to the pipes – green marks are often a sign of a leaky valve.
Fixing a leaking radiator costs around £100.
3. Find the stopcock
One of the first things you should do when you get the keys is check where the stopcock is. This device lets you turn off all the water in the house and you don’t want to have to hunt around for it in an emergency. Start with looking under the stairs!
4. Get the latest Gas Safety Record
All gas appliances should have an annual service. If you’re planning to make an offer on a house and the boiler hasn’t been serviced in the last year, ask the owner to arrange this before finalising the purchase or agree to pay a lower price for the property.
5. Check all the lights work
If there’s any damage on the switches or fittings, be careful. If you can see any signs of repair, ask if it was carried out by a qualified electrician – and if there’s a guarantee.
If a light isn’t working properly it will cost around £80 to fix.
6. Are the visible cables and leads in good condition?
Exposed cables and leads can be fire hazards and you’ll need to replace damaged ones when you move into a new house. Make sure any work carried out, before or after buying, is always done by a qualified electrician.
Depending on how much rewiring you’re doing, it can cost anything from £100 to £550.
7. Check walls and ceilings carefully
Plaster should be smooth and even, so look out for any large cracks or uneven surfaces. Replastering a room or multiple rooms is unlikely to be the most expensive job in your new home, but the time it can take for plaster to properly dry, especially in winter, could affect your move.
Plastering walls can cost between £320 and £550 depending on the size of the room. For plastering a ceiling expect to pay between £170 and £400.
8. Test the sinks and toilets
Fill each of the sinks and see how long they take to drain. This is a really simple way of checking the state of the pipework underneath. It’s worth checking that all the toilets flush properly too, and doesn’t continuously try to "fill in", which is the sign of a damaged flapper.
Fixing a blocked sink or toilet costs about £100.
9. Test the smoke alarm
If it doesn’t make a sound when you press the test button, make either replacing the battery or installing a new smoke alarm an urgent priority.
10. Look out for carpet dents
Let’s finish with a little trick. Heavy furniture that’s been left in the same spot for years can create dents in the carpets – here’s how to get rid of them. Put an ice cube on the dent overnight, use a fork to restore the fibres then vacuum the carpet dry.
If Covid is still a cause for concern…
Who knows how long Covid restrictions will last. But while they’re in place it’s worth knowing what the etiquette should be around tradesmen visiting your property if you need any work carried out.
We’ve written a guide on the dos and don’ts that you can check right here.
In the mood for more?
This is a quick list that people can easily refer to when they’re scoping out a potential property. We’ve created a more exhaustive guide featuring more pointers on what to look for before you buy a home as well as tips for taking care of your home once you have the keys.