12 things you need to consider when viewing a property
First time buyer? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when heading to an open house.
Check the orientation
Do you want sunlight in the front or back of the house? Will you be there during the day or only during the weekends? Orientation will affect everything from summer barbecues in the back garden and growing veg, to the sense of light in your reception rooms and kitchen/dining areas.
What is the traffic like?
Visit the site at different times of the day to get a sense of the traffic flow, bottlenecks and commute times. Check the local commuter routes to ensure your house won't end up being on a rat run. Speed bumps slow traffic down but braking and accelerating is a noise nuisance late at night.
The old rule of location, location, location
This applies within a development too, for example, a cul-de-sac can be a safer place for children to play than a drive-through street; a house near the entrance to an estate will experience greater traffic than one at the far end of the scheme.
Keep the view in mind
If you're buying off-plan, check to ensure that the view you currently see from your prospective house will be the one you end up with when the scheme is finished. If your neighbouring houses have three storeys, interior designer Suzie McAdam suggests checking whether your garden will be overshadowed. Revisit the site a few times; ask questions of any existing residents, and do your research using boards.ie.
Ask the developer/agent about green spaces
Will they remain green spaces or is there a danger they could be infilled at a later date? Also, check you are not on a flood plain.
Don't be seduced by the show house
McAdam warns: "Some show houses use tiny, tiny furniture. A two-seater sofa in the living room will make it look bigger, when in reality you will need a three-seater sofa."
Storage can be a huge issue
If the wardrobes are fitted, how do they compare to the storage space your possessions require? Is there space for non-hanging items? How big is the hall? Is there room for a pram or bike? Will the garden lend itself to a shed? If there is a wood-burning stove, where will you store fuel? Where do wheelie bins go? Is the bed in the master room on the small side and if you need a bigger bed will there be room to walk around it?
Check the quality of the proposed finish before you agree to it
Sometimes, McAdam says, "you might be best advised going for the allowance or credit and choosing your own finish, if you want something higher quality. It may be worth negotiating with the builder to get a reduction on the sale price and pick your own finish instead".
Be wary of spotlights
"My pet peeve," says McAdam, "is spotlights, unless they are in the kitchen. They can be very harsh to live with and, in a show house, can give a false impression of how much natural light a room gets."
Be sure that the configuration of rooms in your house type suits you.
"Look at your pieces of furniture," says McAdam. "Often a different configuration with different room sizes might suit you better. The development may have many types of house."
Are you planning a family?
If you are planning a family, check out the local schools, sports, health and other amenities. Schemes over a certain number of units will include a creche - check this is the case and where it will be in relation to your home. Being within walking distance of shops and amenities is a bonus for new parents.
Think about future-proofing
Think about whether the attic is suitable for conversion, ie is the roof made from prefabricated trusses, generally unsuited to conversion, or a traditional-cut roof? Could you fit stairs to the attic from the existing landing, rather than having to disturb existing bedrooms?