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Top 10 check list for new home buyers

Planning on buying a new home this spring?  Viewing potential new homes can be an exciting experience but don’t get distracted from unseen and potentially serious issues with the properties heating systems.

Freshly painted magnolia walls, a trendy new kitchen and the pressure of an estate agent who has “another five people lined up to put in offers”, can be very persuasive in convincing home buyers to part with their life savings.  However, we would advice buyers to be more savvy about the potential costs that can come with buying a second hand property – with a sub-standard heating system.

In particular, buying a home without realising its heating system needs replacing can be an expensive mistake to make.  Installing a new heating system to a three bedroom semi detached home these days will cost around £5,000, an expenditure which many house hunters may need to take into account.

We have prepared a top 10 check list to help you assess the quality of a property’s heating system, to ensure that you are fully informed before putting in an offer:

1.    Look for whether the home has a floor standing or wall mounted boiler. If it is floor standing the likelihood is that it is at least 12 years old and will soon need replacing.
2.    Domestic chimney flued boilers can no longer be fitted. If the boiler has a flue pipe coming off the top of the casing it is an older inefficient model and will need replacing.
3.    How many pipes are coming out of the boiler?  If there are four pipes it is likely that the hot water is on gravity which is an expensive way to produce hot water.  If there are just two pipes it is a modern design.
4.    Look at the hot water cylinder – does it have a red plastic jacket tied around it?  If so it pre-dates modern foam lagged cylinders. Leaking out useful heat from these early jackets costs more to run and is a waste of money – it needs changing.
5.    Have another look at the hot water tank, does it have a thermostat on the side? No control on hot water temperature = no good.
6.    Look at the radiators; do they have metal fins along the back of the radiators?  No – then they are over 20 years old and need to be replaced.
7.    Do the radiators have thermostatic valves on them?  These enable you to adjust the temperature in each room and are important for efficient operation.
8.    Old radiators can contain corrosion and limescale in which case putting a new high efficiency boiler on the system is pointless.  The lifespan of a high efficiency condensing boiler is dramatically reduced by connecting it to old radiators and pipework.
9.    Look out for combination boilers which can be very efficient and effective in smaller properties but these boilers do not have hot water storage tanks and are only really suitable for homes with one bathroom.  They provide a much slower flow of water and  only allow one tap to run at a time.  Filling a bath can be a lengthy process!
10.    Do not confuse ‘condensing’ with ‘combination’.  All newly installed boilers these days must be ‘condensing’ A or B efficiency rated.

Clive Searle, Sales Director at BSW, believes checking the standard of a property’s heating system should be a priority on every house hunters check list, as he explains:

“Just because a property has central heating installed doesn’t mean the house is well heated or that the system is functioning effectively.  Heating systems are costly to replace, especially in older properties so it is important that buyers ask the basic questions.  These include finding out when a system was installed and whether or not it has been regularly serviced, to help identify if a system is likely to need repair or replacing.

“An outdated heating system isn’t necessarily a deal breaker on a home purchase but the cost of replacing it could be.  If a property for sale needs a new system then I would advise home buyers to obtain a quotation for the work and discuss this with the vendor to see if an agreement can be reached to cover the costs.”

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