Buying a new house? Don’t get caught with your water down

There are many websites dedicated to tips for people looking to buy a new house or apartment. It is always important to check if the electricity works, maybe by taking a small lamp with you that you can plug into power sockets, to check the noise levels at various times of day, and to check the Internet and cellphone coverage in the area. Aside from these examples, there are many more checks that you can do depending on your priorities. One big priority is of course to make sure the water facilities are adequate. With that in mind, here are some things to look out for when you’re house hunting:

Big things

Buying a house only to find that you need to replace the boiler, washing machine or other major appliance should only happen if you’re aware of the extra cost before you sign the dotted line. To make sure you’re not faced with hidden costs after moving in, it’s best to take a close look at the condition of all of the facilities that are set to remain in the house. If the water heater looks old or is showing signs of corrosion, mineral deposits and other disrepair, you can at least use this to lower the asking price of the house. Aside from these considerations, you should also make sure that the size of the water heater is sufficient for your family.

Look closely at the radiators, air conditioning unit and pipes, too. If they’re rusty or look disused, they could be liable to break sooner rather than later. You should furthermore make sure to flush all the toilets as you walk through the house, as this soon tells you if they are working properly. To make sure you’re not going to freeze during the winter, check not just the insulation around the pipes but also the vents to see if they can be closed off against the cold weather.

Speaking of pipes, make sure they aren’t made of lead, which can be toxic and is generally considered an environmental hazard. If the house has a septic tank for sewage rather than a municipal sewer connection, make sure it is not leaking, too close to the house, or emitting unpleasant odors that could affect your living experience or health. Problems with sewage should be solved before the sale of the house is finalized.

Small things

If possible, you should ask to have the heating turned up while you are viewing the house. This should give you some idea of how well and how fast it works. You should also open some taps to see if the water turns warm in a reasonable amount of time. Look under the kitchen sink to see if there’s a little boiler or filter installed, and check what kind of water the area has. Also, make sure to check out the water meter and shut-off valve to find out whether they are in proper working order.

Another reason to open the taps around the house is to make sure they aren’t leaking. While more easily fixed than a broken water heater, leaking faucets are still going to cost you money, and they also serve as a good indication of how much care the sellers are putting into their house in general. If they show little care for their faucets, this might hint at bigger problems they haven’t bothered to fix around the rest of the house.

On a less technical note, it might be handy to sit down on the toilets – with the seat down of course! – and try to picture yourself using the bathrooms. Are the sinks at the right height and location for you? Is everything spacious enough for your family? Can you wave at your neighbor while you’re in the shower or on the toilet? Little things are easy to overlook, but may make all the difference once you’re actually living somewhere.

Related to all possible future plumbing problems is the purchase agreement. If you love a house, but aren’t convinced that things won’t break down within the first few months you move in, make sure the purchase agreement between you and the seller states that they are responsible for certain unforeseen repairs for some time after the house is officially yours. If you don’t have anything down in writing, it will be hard to prove that the seller misrepresented the house, and even harder to fight through the court system to get your repairs compensated. To avoid these possible hassles, you should not only have a good attorney on hand, but also have the house inspected by a professional before you sign the contract.

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