If you’re thinking about investing in property, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework as there are many common mistakes to be made as a property investor. That said, you don’t need to be a plumber, builder, surveyor or architect to determine whether a property is solid; you just need to put in the effort, the time, and know what to look out for.
This checklist offers some food for thought when looking into residential property investment; but the key point is to narrow down your options and then dig deep into a few shortlisted properties where you do as much research into the neighbourhood, and the property itself, as possible in order to avoid unexpected headaches down the road.
1. DRAINS & SEWERS
Clogged drains are one of the most common issues plumbers are called out to resolve, as they are simply caused by built up oils, material like toilet paper, loose hair and so on. Whilst common, and seemingly simple, clogged drains can lead to serious leaks. To test a drain, turn on the water and let it flow for a few minutes. It should drain instantly and consistently. You should then look under the sink for signs of water damage, mould, and visible leaks.
You may wish to invest in a sewer inspection whereby specialist plumbers will come with a sewer camera to inspect the main sewer line. The reason for this is that if the line is partially blocked it will not resolve itself – remedial action will be required and if the Line were to collapse due to deterioration this would require a major repair or replacement at significant cost.
Drains clog for a reason and they do not fix themselves; this camera inspection is highly recommended, as if you know the condition of the sewer line prior to purchase you have the certainty of knowing all is well or the insight to negotiate a more informed price. In short, a quick camera inspection of the sewer line could make you aware of a hidden and potentially costly issue prior to purchase that would otherwise go unnoticed.
2. WATER HEATERS
The water heater that will heat your home and provide hot water should last around ten years. Consider the location of the tank, in that if it were to leak would it ruin your carpet or wooden floor? Could it cause drywall damage? If it is in a location where damage is likely to occur should there be a leak you’ll need to consider what preventative measures you can take.
The majority of water heaters are placed in areas that are out of sight. However, less thought can be given to what damage they could cause if they were to leak. Unfortunately, leaks are only noticed because of visual evidence of water damage (such as water coming through the ceiling).
A professional plumber should be able to determine the age and whether it’s safely working. You also need to consider the size of the water heater and ensure it’s suitable for your needs. The investment required to obtain an efficient water heater is significant; so if the boiler does need to be replaced you may want to work this into your negotiations.
You will want to check around the base of each toilet, as whilst the leak often appears insignificant, overtime the water will have started to damage the floor. Perhaps, the seller has used sealant, being unaware of the gravity of this problem and making matters worse. You’ll therefore want to check for additional sealant and water around the base of the toilet. Look for warping and discolouration. Check to see if the floor feels squidgy or soft around the base. It movement is apparent (i.e. if it rocks from side to side) then there’s a strong change water damage has occurred.
If a toilet is constantly running it could mean the chain or flapper needs to be replaced whilst some could say it’s a sign of a ghost being in the property. One thing is for sure, which is that a toilet not draining properly will lead to leaks. A leaking toilet will eventually rot through the floor – meaning, you have the potential to literally fall down the toilet.
You can normally smell damp as soon as you enter a property, but this tends to be when things have advanced significantly – meaning just because the property doesn’t smell damp or musty, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t suffering from damp.
You’ll want to scrutinise the ceilings, windows and walls – looking for any damp staining or discolouration, particularly on the ceiling, which could indicate previous leaks. Are there any signs of damp or mould on the walls (including inside covered areas such as walk-in wardrobes). Are the timber frames showing any signs of rot?
If so, this is a sign that the gutters attached to the property might need to be replaced or cleaned. Accordingly, you can learn more about the importance of functioning gutters by researching Gutter Cleaning Detroit or by searching for similar gutter cleaning professionals in your local area.
5. LIFE ESSENTIALS
Consider things such as whether your phone works in the property. This one is often overlooked to the lament of new homeowners everywhere. Do you have full reception or do you need to go in the garden and stand on one leg in order to be able to make a phone call? How about the speed of the internet? These little life essentials are becoming increasingly important in today’s world – and shouldn’t be overlooked.
How is the garden? Is it suitable for hosting outdoor parties and having friends over, or is it small and unsightly? Again, these little things are important particularly when you consider the fact you’re turning your purchasing a home rather than just a house.
6. THE VIEW
A beautiful view is a nice to have, but more essentially, you want to be checking for strange structures or signs of heavy construction within the area – for what could be a nice view today, could in a few years, end up very different.
7. THE SOUND
How does the property sound? Can you hear the neighbours arguing? Is there a busy road that will keep you awake at night… or a cockerel that’s sure to wake you up at the crack of dawn each morning?
8. STAY NEARBY
Spend a night or two at a nearby hotel or an AirBnB in order to get a feel for the area; go to the local gym, peruse the shops, eat at the local takeaway – what’s the attitude and atmosphere of the location. How does it get after dark? How busy and congested are the roads in rush hour?