When first conducting a property inspection, you will likely have a list of must-have features that you will be mentally checking off over the course of your inspection. However, do you have the most important factors on your list? Beyond the superficial aspects of a house such as presentation and décor, there are three key things you should be considering when viewing a property, prior to making an offer.
1. Heating, cooling & ventilation
Heating, cooling and ventilation systems are especially important when purchasing property in New Zealand. During your initial inspection, it is vital you identify what heating and cooling systems are available, as well as the main source of ventilation.
Is there a heat pump? Wood burner with wetback? HRV system? These are all popular and hugely beneficial, as not only are they fundamental to living comfortably through New Zealand seasons, but the efficiency of different heating and cooling systems will also dictate how much your monthly power usage will be, and the associated cost of this usage. Heat pumps are the most energy efficient way to heat a property, followed by wood burners and ducted gas heating.
You should also check if the property has single glazing or wooden joinery. If not, consider if this is something you would want to invest in upgrading in the future. No source of heating and only single glazing would see your power bill soar during the winter months.
Sufficient ventilation is also key to ensuring your home is a comfortable and healthy living environment. Damp homes without proper ventilation can exacerbate health conditions. Mould and mildew can also cause gradual damage to the interior condition of a property such as staining, bubbling and peeling of paint or wallpaper.
As of July 2019, adequate heating, insulation and ventilation are also key components of the Healthy Homes Standards. The Healthy Homes legislation sets out a series of minimum requirements for all residential rental properties. If your intention is to rent out the house you are looking to purchase, you would need to ensure it complies with these standards prior to renting it out.
During your inspection, work through your checklist of your must-have features and consider if it fulfills all of your non-negotiable property requirements. Identify any work that needs to be done to bring it into alignment with the vision of your ideal home/investment. This could be as minor as changing the colour of a room, or as large scale as fencing the entire section.
Consider how much any improvements will cost, as well as the time investment required. Is it still financially feasible? After these improvements, will the property fit the bill and suit you long term? If purchasing the property as-is will max out your budget, with a host of issues still needing to be remedied and worked on, consider shopping around for something more suitable for your budget or that better aligns with your requirements.
3. Future problems
Even with an untrained eye, it is possible to identify aspects of a property that could cause problems for you down the road. Asking your salesperson for further information and conducting some basic maintenance checks, can give you an idea on what areas to seek specialist advice on. Things to look out for include:
- Retaining walls: Any large or structurally significant retaining walls may need to be inspected prior to purchasing, to ensure that appropriate consents were obtained, and that they aren’t causing any issues
- Unconsented works: If there are additional buildings/sleepouts/living quarters on the property, find out if council consent was obtained for these additions
- Title issues: Ask the listing salesperson for a copy of the Certificate of Title, and supply this to your solicitor to review if you have any interest in the property. Things to look out for include the type of title (ie. If it’s a Unit Title there may be associated body corporate fees), shared driveways, caveats, covenants and encumbrances
- Are the lights flickering, throughout an entire area of the house? This could indicate old or faulty wiring. Have an electrician assess the cause of this to see if it’s a localized fault or part of a larger issue
- Plumbing: Check the shower pressure, as well as inside and around any cabinetry and joinery in rooms where plumbing exists. Identify any areas showing watermarks or swelling, that could indicate some localized water leaks or water tightness issues
- Are the piles in good condition? Old piles are expensive to repair or replace. Find out what condition the piles are in and have a trusted building inspector assess these if you have any concern.
For more information on what to look out for during a property inspection, visit www.settled.govt.nz/buying-a-home/researching-the-property/learning-about-the-property/
*The above points are intended as a guide only, and buyers are encouraged to seek professional advice on any property they are looking to buy.