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09 Mar 2017

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Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you’re ever going to make – so you want a home that will stand the test of time. And even though we’d all like to think that our dream home will still be standing in 200 years, the reality is that not every house is a castle.



There are certain warning signs that the property you’re looking at may not be the sturdy building you thought it was. Structural problems, poor build quality or problems with a property’s location can all point to potential issues that could damage the long term prospects of a house.

So what are the signals that a property could have a limited shelf life?

Well, here’s just a few tips and things to look out for when you’re hunting for a house that will last.

Get a survey done

This may seem obvious but it’s worth stressing the importance of this step. A structural survey is vital if you’re thinking about buying a place. Always get an independent structural surveyor in to run the rule over your prospective home before you make an offer.

There can be any number of problems that are not obvious to the layman. Problems like pyrite or rising damp could be a nightmare if they’re not identified in advance so it pays to get an expert to thoroughly check a property out.

Judge the fixtures

If you’re looking at a new build that has cheap looking fixtures or fittings, it can be a warning sign of trouble ahead. That’s not to say that you should expect solid gold taps but you’re looking for a certain quality of build when you view a place.

A conscientious developer who has constructed a quality house is unlikely to let a contractor devalue it by putting in cheap fittings or dodgy window frames. It’s not unreasonable to wonder where else they’ve cut corners if they’re happy to use shoddy fixtures.

Research the area’s flood history

Imagine it’s the height of summer and you’ve just found your perfect house. It has everything you want - a great design, a beautiful location in the country and a gorgeous garden. Fast forward six months and that garden is submerged and the sandbags at your door are barely keeping the floodwaters out of your new home.

The moral of the story is “Do your research.” Especially in a country with as much rain as Ireland! Check if there’s a history of flooding before buying in any area. You can check this database or simply Google the area to see if it’s been mentioned in news reports.

Another way to see if there are any issues is to try and get an insurance quote for the area. The insurance company won’t be long telling you if there’s a problem with flooding in the locality.

Look for missing walls

You may think that a missing wall would be hard to miss but we’re not talking about a house with a large hole in an exterior wall. The type of missing walls that can cause problems are load-bearing walls that have been removed to open up two rooms. A wall that was incorrectly removed can seriously affect a house’s longevity.

Sure, that open plan layout may make the most of the space – but it can come at a cost. A loadbearing wall is a structural element of any property so it’s typically replaced with something like a beam or a girder. If you suspect that a wall has been removed, find out what was involved and ensure that all the correct steps were taken.

Check it out down under

This doesn’t mean that you have to visit Australia before buying a house. It’s all about the foundations of a house, which are a vital part of a well-built home. A problem with your house’s foundations is not something you can solve with a sticking plaster. A sinking foundation could be a major issue that will continue, and it may even affect your ability to resell it.

All properties settle over time, but how can you tell if a house’s foundations will cause you nothing but trouble? Well, there are a few warning signs. Look out for fractures, ruptures or cracks in the interior and exterior walls (aside from hairline fractures). Crumbling concrete, pooling water or buckling walls can also be an indication the house is a bad investment.

The roof is in good condition

The roof and the foundation are regarded as two of the most important parts of the house. Having a brilliant roof is not much use if your foundations are sinking into the ground, but it’s a good start in most cases! A sound roof remains one of the best signs that your house is built to last.

The roof is one of the most expensive parts to repair or replace. Therefore having a roof that’s in excellent condition is half the battle when it comes to a long-lasting home.

Check for previous alterations

Your surveyor will check any alterations, extensions or other major structural work that’s been done to the house. A surveyor will then request that any certificates or compliance and/or planning permission certificates are provided. This will let you know if work on the house has been completed to an acceptable standard or if there are any potential concerns.

Are you thinking of buying your own home?

Before you worry about whether your prospective house is going to stand the test of time, the first test is to see if you’re in a position to buy it.

Find out how much you can afford to borrow with our mortgage calculator or book a mortgage meeting to suit you with one of our mortgage experts.

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The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.


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