Checklist for Home Buyers

16th September 2020


by Elise Rose

When you buy a house the law is that you buy it as it stands and you do not generally have any come-back against the seller if anything is later found to be wrong with it.  A solicitor’s job is to ensure that you become the owner of the house you buy free from the claims of anyone else.  Our knowledge does not extend to matters which are covered by a survey and our advice is that anyone buying a house should have a survey carried out.  Generally we do not see the property and you must therefore report any potential problems to us if you want help with them.

Whether or not you have a survey done it is still important to ensure that you know as much as possible about what you are buying before you sign a contract.  This checklist cannot cover everything but it will help alert you to some of the more common causes of problems.  Some of the items (marked *) are covered by the questions we ask.  In due course we shall be letting you have details of the answers.  If there is any inconsistency between what you have found out and the answers we are given, you should let us know at once.

If the answer to any of the questions marked “+” is “yes” be sure to tell us.


Does any drive or path to the house cross anyone else’s property before joining a public road?

+  Does the route of any of the services (electricity, drainage, water, gas, telephone), go into anyone else’s property?

+  If there is septic tank or cesspit drainage, does the tank or soakaway go into anyone else’s property?

Do the drains show any signs of not functioning properly?  (It is advisable to lift inspection covers to check).

+  Are there any signs that anyone else has rights over the property (footpaths, shared septic tank, shared driveways etc)?

Is the land drainage working properly? (check signs of flooding or excessively damp ground).

Check all gutters and drain pipes.

Does the brickwork need repointing?

Are any tiles or slates missing?

Does any part of the roof sag?

Is ivy or any plant growing up the side of the house? (this may be a cause of damp).

Are there any cracks or bulges in the walls? (to check a wall for bulges stand close to a corner and look at the length of the wall).

Are the chimneys and chimney pots in good order?



Will your car fit in the garage?

Can you park off the road?

*+  Does the owner have to pay anything towards the upkeep of any roadway, services etc?

Are all the window panes properly glazed? (check for cracked glass and perished putty)

Do the windows and doors open and shut without difficulty?

Are the window or door frames rotten? (poke with a penknife to see if it is rotten.)

Is there a damp proof course and is it unobstructed?

Are there large trees near the house? (have their roots damaged foundations or drainage pipes?).

Have any extensions or alterations been carried out to the property?  If so:-

*  Is there planning permission?

*  Is there building regulation consent?

Who is the builder?


Fences, Walls and Boundaries

*  Who owns them?

Are they in good condition?

*+  Are there any disputes with owners of neighbouring property?

+  Are the boundaries clearly defined?

+  Are there indications of problems over ownership (irregular lines of boundaries or walls?)



Are there any signs (or smell) of damp?

Are there any signs of woodworm?

Are timber floors well ventilated and free from damp? (it may be possible to have both these matters surveyed free by a specialist treatment firm.)

Is the plaster in good condition? (check to see if it  has perished.)

Are the ceilings secure? (old style plaster and lathe ceilings do eventually lose their key and can fall down.



Is the plumbing in good order? (check for signs of leaks.  Run the taps.  Check the waste pipes.  Flush the toilet.)

How is the water heated?

Does the system work?

Is the hot water tank insulated?

Are there any lead pipes?


Electrical Supply

In what condition is the electric wiring (remember that the old rubberised cable – normally associated with 5 and 15 amp sockets – eventually becomes brittle and is a potential fire risk)?

Are there enough electric sockets and lights for your requirements?

How is the house heated? (be sure to test the heating system to see if it works.)

Check the attic:

  • Is the roof space insulated?
  • Is the roof felted?
  • Is the cold water tank protected from frost?
  • Are there any signs of leaking roof?
  • Are there any signs of woodworm?

*  Are there any guarantees, such as,

  • N.H.B.C.?
  • Damp proof or woodworm?
  • Cavity insulation?
  • Central heating system?

*  What exactly are you paying for? (check with the seller that the following are included: Trees, shrubs, plants etc.  Greenhouses, garden ornaments and sheds, T.V aerial, fitted furniture and shelves, electric switches, wall and ceiling fittings.)


New Houses

Does the builder know exactly what your requirements are? (Leave nothing in doubt.  Be sure to confirm extras and variations writing and obtain an acknowledgement.)

Does the price include:

  • The cost of laying drives and paths, levelling and clearing the site?
  • Fencing all boundaries? (be sure you know what fences you are getting)
  • The costs and charges of connecting to mains services?



The searches we make, cover only the property you are buying.  We can also search against nearby property.  Let us know if you would like us to check, say a vacant site or nearby field for development proposals.

Although a search will reveal certain proposals which may affect your enjoyment of the property (such as road proposals) it does not cover everything and it is never a guarantee against future proposalsWe therefore suggest you check the following points to try to track down anything which might affect you.

Tell us if there is any additional property you want to search against.

Ask the seller if he knows of any proposals for the neighbourhood.

Ask at the local pub.  You may find local gossip a good pointer to what may be happening.

If you are buying a house in a village try the Parish Council.

Explore the locality and try to locate potential sources of nuisance:

  • Factories,
  • Airports,
  • Depots etc.

Recommended By The Legal 500 Directory*

*We are recommended for the following practice areas: Corporate and Commercial, Debt Recovery, Employment, Personal Injury: Claimant, Agriculture and Estates, Contentious Trusts and Probate, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate & Commercial Property.

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