I’ve been a homeowner nearly 5 years now with two house sales under my belt, so it’s fair to say I’m quite experienced in the trials and tribulations of owning your own home, although I’ll be totally honest and tell you it was a STEEP learning curve at the start.
We moved into our first home in 2015, we viewed a few properties and fell immediately fell in love with a beautiful 250 year old Georgian house in Brighton, right on the seafront. We wanted it so much, we’ve move heaven and earth to secure the sale so when the survey came back with a few red marks, we overlooked them and went for it, planning to renovate as we went along. Thats what happens with an old property, right?!
Fast forward 5 years and we still own that flat, although we don’t live there anymore. The first 2-3 years were extremely costly, we poured more and our hearts and souls into that flat but emptied our pockets too. We had so much work done, even getting a quote for a glass staircase between floors, but decided as the family was growing to move. Although I’d never change living at that address, there is so much I wish I’d known.
Luckily for first time buyers now, there is Local Heroes, which I wish were around when we first moved – they match vetted tradespeople to consumers, meaning it’s easy to find a reliable tradesperson, whether you are looking for a plumber, electrician, tiler, plasterer or whatever the job is you need doing. Plus, they’ve released the Local Heroes First Time Home Buyer Guide with 77 tips on what to look for when buying your first property. Oh, how I wish I’d seen that at the time! Here are a few things I wish we’d have known!
Don’t underestimate the cost of fixing a damp problem
Of course I knew to look for damp in a property, but when the survey flagged up a few problems I thought it would be an easy fix. Not so much! Soon we realised how expensive it was going to be as walls were being stripped back and the house was turned upside down as it had to be redecorated and plastered. This was the most expensive work we had done, by a long way but it needed to be done!
Find out how old the boiler is
When the boilers making a clanking sound it probably isn’t too healthy – after a few surprise cold showers a couple of years into living in the property, our boiler gave up the ghost and when the plumber saw it, he said it was ancient and had been on it’s last legs for a long time! We were lucky to have had one hot shower, let alone a years worth. Again, getting our new boiler fitted was costly but essential, there is nothing worse than a winters day with no heating or hot water with a baby in the house – I speak from experience!
Where will you put your TV?
Does anyone remember #TVGate on my Instagram? If not, it was when we moved in our latest house and we had nowhere to put our TV so it sat on our living room floor for MONTHS, it was such a pain and raised a few eyebrows as to our interior design choices! Of course it wasn’t meant to stay there but organising a fitted cupboard took a lot longer than you’d think – the whole room had to be plastered and floors changed first which was a huge job! It seems like such a minor detail when looking for a house but actually a TV is a really large item of furniture that needs consideration – is the wall sturdy enough to take the weight? Are the plug sockets? An ariel? Does it face where you’d put the sofa? All things to consider for such a focal point in your living room. We also had to consider it during our staircase refurbishment as the whole area needed rewiring afterwards.
Where will you park?
This is an easy one to forget as when you view a property you’ll be thinking about the inside/garden area but perhaps not about your car. Our previous flat had no parking which was fine before babies as I left my car a short walk away but as soon as Violet came along it was a nightmare! Carrying a baby car seat, shopping bags and a change bag to/from the car became impossible, I can’t imagine how I would have done it with two babies!
Flush the toilet
Check the toilets for a good, strong flush with no knocking sounds or slow drainage. This was one of the problems we had in the house, the toilet gave up on us within a few months and when it’s the only one in the house it’s quite a necessity!
And a tip from me – don’t get caught up with your emotions if you fall in love with a property during the viewing, do your homework and think with your head and not your heart!
All of these things, if I have known before the house sale I would have factored into the agreement and offer we placed, but you live and learn and ultimately, we were very happy there and I love being a homeowner so it’s it was totally worth it! If you are looking into buying your first house – please do check out the Local Heros First Time Buyers Guide, it’s fantastic!
This post is in conjunction with Local Heroes but all thoughts are my own