11 Often Overlooked Considerations When Buying a House in Ireland
Picture this – it’s the first day in your new home. You spring out of bed and bounce into the shower, ready to belt out the finest cover of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ the world has ever heard.
But when you turn on the tap, the water barely piddles down on top of you and your elation washes down the drain with it.
House hunting can be stressful. There’s so much to think about. The location, the structural aspects, the negotiations – it’s easy to have brain meltdown and miss some important details.
So, to put a little more sanity in your search, here are 11 things that you should lookout for when buying a house in Ireland.
1. Ask about certified heating
Nothing can ruin a cosy winter evening like your heating giving up the ghost. If spending the first winter in your new home wearing ski jackets in bed sounds unappealing then it’s important to make sure that the property you have your eye on comes with certified heating.
Most houses with gas heating systems are subject to annual boiler inspections. So don’t be afraid to ask the estate agent if you can have a peep at the boiler. Check the sticker to see when the last inspection was. No sticker is a bit of a red flag – so ask for a certificate.
2. Use your ears to check noise levels
Don’t forget to take a break from chatting to the estate agent to check out the noise levels. High daily noise levels can have a significant impact on your quality of life. So, make sure that you get some quiet time when viewing a property – particularly in the bedrooms.
Crack open a window too and listen for noise pollution that could annoy the hell out of you further down the line. Some folks can handle a lot of noise, while others might come to realise that living by a busy road just isn’t for them.
3. Be on the lookout for mould
Get a slight waft of damp? Or did small black spots on the ceiling catch your eye?
Unfortunately this is a sign of mould. If you employ a surveyor, they’ll be able to point out most of the structural issues contributing to the damp. But a home that isn’t well ventilated may have spots that the surveyor doesn’t report.
Fixing mould related issues can be expensive, so check behind the curtains and stick your nose in the under-stairs cupboard to determine if it might be an issue.
4. Test the water pressure
As eluded to in the introduction, water pressure is essential for a good shower. Getting dribbled on is no way to start the day. Turn on the shower and see if it’s to your liking. If not, you may have to spend a good chunk of change getting it fixed.
5. Understand your full costs by accounting for renovation
Many folks make the mistake of bidding on houses that appear to be within budget but forget to factor in renovations. The total cost may turn out to be far higher than they had planned to spend.
For example, if you spot a house for €350K in a nice part of town where similar houses sell for €400k, you might be tempted to jump on it. But factor in the price needed to get it up to modern standards and your total bill is €50K more than the other houses on the street.
Make sure you have a very clear picture of what you’re willing to spend, including all of the work required to get your property into the condition you want it in.
6. Get an expert opinion on how much renovation will cost
If you’re very keen on a particular property, it’s a great idea to bring along an impartial builder or architect.
Family and friends are probably not the best wing-men because too often they’re emotionally blinded to faults. A professional can give you honest advice about the financial investment required.
Build it into your budget and if the numbers don’t add up, be prepared to move on if required.
7. Remember that square footage isn’t everything
Bigger is not always better. Instead of size, it’s more important consider how well the house suits your needs. Consider the proportions and the layout.
Remember that you could potentially build an extension in the future if space becomes an issue, especially if the property boasts a garden or additional space to one side.
8. Look for opportunities to add value to the property
You can add extensions and improvements to the house that will pay for themselves.
For example, the addition of a bedroom and a bathroom can add value of your home.
Keep your eyes peeled for sufficient headroom in the attic space which will allow you to convert it into living space further down the line if you want.
9. Take a moment to do a planning search
All of the councils have a planning search tool that works by simply typing in an address.
It’s very straightforward and you’ll see what developments are planned for the area. If you’re thinking of building, you’ll easily find out the precedents for similar work.
Also take a peek at your would-be neighbours’ homes to see if they’ve had any building work done – ask them if you can have a look at how it turned out.
10. Explore the neighbourhood
After your viewing, make sure to spend a little time strolling up and down the streets surrounding the property. It’ll give you a better feel for what it’s like to live in that neck of the woods.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for unsightly rubbish, bedraggled gardens and untrained dogs barking. Have an idea of your limits and don’t settle for less.
If you’re feeling cheeky, why not approach someone on the street or in a café and ask them about the area? Friendly enough folk will provide valuable insight into what it’s like to live there.
11. Determine how much light gets inside
Natural light is food for the soul, especially in the depths of an Irish winter. Just like noise, light too can have a big effect on your mood.
Imagine moving into your new home, only to find that it’s too dim inside on darker days. Devastating.
Estate agents are well versed on the impressions that light can have on us. For this reason they’ll often have all of the lights turned on. So don’t be fooled, turn them off and take in the space when it’s bathed in natural light only.
Remember to enquire about the sun’s path throughput the day too.
Best of Luck
While it may be stressful, buying a house is also incredibly exciting. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process. Before we sign off, we’ve one final piece of advice; don’t hold back during the viewing process. Go for it and ask the questions you want the answers to.
You’re about to make possibly the biggest purchase you’ll ever make so leave shyness at the door and dive into every last nook and cranny of the house.
Arrive armed with pen and paper, ready to take detailed notes of anything that catches your interest. Slow down, take a breather and avoid becoming part of the hustle and bustle that inevitably occurs at crowded viewings.
If you discover a number of flaws, it doesn’t mean you have to scratch the place off your list. There’s nearly nothing that can’t be fixed. But good notes will equip you with a powerful case that you can use to negotiate with the owner, as well as making sure you know what you’re getting into finance-wise.
From all of us at Perfect Property – Best of luck!