Top Tips for Homebuyers

In the midst of all the dos and don’ts of house-buying, it’s difficult to know what will actually be helpful and what will cost you time and money and leave you wondering why you bothered.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a quick list of ‘must-do’s so you can spend your pennies wisely.

Find out where your mains supplies are

Be sure to check where your main supplies are located and where your shut-off valves are. That way, in case of an emergency you know where your first line of defence is and you’re not looking for them in a panic. It’s also important to make sure all water pipes that may be exposed to frost are sufficiently insulated, or take preventative steps to avoid burst pipes during the colder months. Oh, and make sure you know where the stopcock is in case a pipe does burst!

Check your meters

Before moving in, contact the current supplier at your new property to tell them you’ve moved in. You can find out who the supplier is by contacting the Meter Point Administration Service. Alternatively, you may have to set one up if your property doesn’t have a gas or electricity connection. Read the meters on the day you move in and give the readings to the current supplier to make sure you get an accurate first bill. You’re responsible for the bills from the day you take ownership or responsibility for the property, even if you don’t move in on that day. Oh, and make sure you pay your old supplier’s final bill when you get it!

House insurance

Home insurance comes in two parts – buildings and contents. Buildings insurance covers the foundations of your home including walls, windows, fitted kitchen etc. Everything else ‘loose’ in your property would fall under contents insurance, for example your sofa, TV and clothes. Buildings insurance can be called upon if the structure of your home is damaged – such as in a fire, flood or bad storms. You can claim for your belongings with contents insurance in these events too, as well as if you incur a theft or loss.

Get a home survey done

When you’re moving into a new home it’s important to consider getting a Homebuyer’s report. This report includes background information and vital assessments on the property that could prove to be costly to you if problems go unidentified. The report alerts you to problems like major structural defaults or any urgent issues with the property. This survey costs anywhere between £300 to £1000 but it is definitely money well spent. It could cost you thousands of pounds in the long run to fix a structural defect if you don’t get a survey carried out or opt for a cheaper option. You can speak with your mortgage lender who can provide you with recommended firms to use to conduct this survey for you.

Grants

It’s always useful to do a little research into government grants that may be applicable to you. The Green Deal offers household loans of up to £10,000 to support the instalment of energy-saving home improvements. This grant will help cut fuel costs in the long run. There are also some regional local authority based schemes for new insulation, particularly for empty properties coming back in use, so contact your local council to find out what is on offer.

Check the insulation and ventilation

It’s important to make sure the roof space of your new property is well insulated. Ill fitting windows and doors can also lose heat, so ensure they’re refitted and draught proofed. All rooms in the property should be ventilated directly to the open air by a window. Where this isn’t possible, install an extractor fan to prevent moist air condensing on walls and ceilings. If this happens it could lead to damp and mould, not only damaging your home but also your health!

Get boiler cover

Having cover for your boiler is essential when moving into your new home. The last thing you want when you set up your lovely new abode is to discover you are left in the cold without heat and hot water.

Arrange council tax

Thousands of homes in England and Scotland may have been in the wrong council tax band for many years. If this is the case for your property, you can get your band lowered and a backdated payout. Check this with your neighbours or via the Valuation Office Agency or Scottish Assessors Association.

Check for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Familiarise yourself with the operation of the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Check they work by pressing the test button – it’s a simple tip that could save your life!

Get appliances checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer

If you move into a new home, don’t assume the appliances are safe. Get everything checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Our research uncovers a shocking lack of safety checks being carried out by home buyers. The overwhelming majority (70 per cent) of the home buyers surveyed did not know that new home buyers can ask for a service record of all gas appliances in a home. This includes boilers, central heating, fires, cookers and portable heaters.