After an initial home buying lull in March 2020, the property market soon surged back to life in May, possibly brought on by everyone working from home and finding they need more space - and let's not forget the stamp duty holiday in July. Suddenly people were looking for bigger and better, and many escaping to the country or coast. According to HM Revenue and Customs it was the busiest October for house sales in five years!
Whilst it is not quite the boom as a few months ago, I have had many enquiries of people purchasing their new home and needing some interior design advice, so I thought I would put together some top tips of what to look out for when viewing your potential property.
How is the natural light?
Light is your friend, you want as much natural light as possible. This is something you cannot change once you move in (unless you make some big structural alterations), so if you suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and light is important for your sanity and wellbeing, then you need to ensure that there is sufficient light coming through those windows. Living in a dark house or being constantly in a dark space can make us feel lethargic. There are always tips and tricks to employ when decorating to brighten up a room, so this should not be a game changer, but still a point to bear in mind.
Check the bones
Check for any signs of water damage, damp marks, mould, condensation, flaky plaster and large cracks in the wall. Does it smell strange? This can be another giveaway for damp issues. If you are worried about the structure, ask your appointed surveyor to examine the concerning areas.
Look out for the following..
It is worthwhile checking what condition the electrics are in. Is there enough sockets for each room? Think about how you and the family live, we all have a lot more tech than we used to - and the kids will be moaning if there isn't anywhere to plug their Alexa into or charge up their laptop! If you can avoid it, you don't want to be living with lots of extension leads trailing over the floor.
Another thing to check is the plumbing - what do the pipes look like? Ask the agent how old the boiler is - they can be expensive.
Windows - are they double glazed, do they need repairing - are they safe? Are there keys for them?
Hopefully you can see past the current state of the decor (good or bad!) and imagine what potential it has. Don't be put off by the existing layout, bad wallpaper or terrible carpet.
Are the rooms big enough?
So you are moving from a house with lots of built in storage - keep that in mind as your new house / apartment may not have the same luxury. It sounds obvious but look at the size of the rooms you are viewing compared to where you are currently living. Will there be room for all of your furniture? Is there room for additional storage?
How about your bed? Will your current super king sized bed fit in this new not so king size bedroom?! If you can remember prior to your viewing, measure any large furniture that you are hoping to keep and bring your tape measure to the potential property to see how it fits in the space. Is there storage capacity for your hoover, ironing boards and any other cleaning equipment?
It's a fixer upper
If you're looking at a refurbishment project, bring your trusted builder along to your viewing and ask their advice on possibilities. Perhaps you are hoping to create an open planned space. If you don't have a professional with you, try tapping the walls to check whether it sounds hollow - if it doesn't, it could be a load bearing wall. This exercise gives you an indication on whether removing walls is a possibility although it is best to get your builder to inspect it for you, they will quickly be able to tell you if it's load bearing. Asking your builder for advice is invaluable at this stage as they will no doubt have some great solutions and good tips for your refurbishment project and will be able to give you an idea of costs - perhaps you can even extend to a loft renovation..
It's a sobering thought but a realistic one... depending on your age, this could be your forever home. Look at the layout and plan for the future. Is there space to convert a downstairs room to a bedroom if need be - preferably close to a WC? You never know what's around the corner, but often if any health issues occur accessibility can cause problems around the house and walking upstairs is no longer an option. Perhaps you have elderly parents and may want to look after them one day - do you have space outside for an annexe if you need to build one in the future?
Do you have your eye on an old property? If so, you will have tons of character available to use when designing your rooms, such as highlighting mouldings, beams and original fireplaces. Yes, you can add character to new homes, although the result can be long, expensive and tedious. Look at the height of the ceilings - high ceilings are a great architectural feature and they instantly make your room feel so much more spacious.
Last but not least
Does your mobile phone have good reception at this location? We all rely on our phones, so this is especially important!
I hope these points help a little when viewing your next property. It's always wise to write a list to remind you on what to ask your agent, especially as you can get caught up with excitement at the thought of a new chapter! As long as the home has potential, enough space and no real structural issues (in which case a lower price can be negotiated), you can look forward to an exciting journey in designing the house of your dreams!
If you need further help with interior design in your home, or you're stuck with a difficult room you need advice on, please don't hesitate to contact me. I have different levels of services from one hour consultations for design advice, to full room or house makeovers.