Seven things to look out for when house hunting

Whether you're a first-time buyer, upsizing or downsizing, Denise O'Connor of Optimise Design shares her tips for moving abode.

1 Look beyond dated decor

Seeing the potential in some properties on the market can be a challenge. Years of neglect and dated décor can be a real obstacle to many people but don't be seduced by an immaculate walk-in condition either. You will want to make the home your own. Once its handed over the furniture won't be left behind, so try to look past it.

2 Get a building survey done


Look out for things that are costly to put right like, old wiring and plumbing, the condition of the roof or damp patches near the ground, this can be an indication of rising damp which can be costly to repair.

3 Think about the site

You can do anything with a house over time but you can't control the site or what surrounds it. Things like orientation, neighbouring properties and trees will all have an impact on your home. Always try to find a house situated on a good site.


4 Be clear on your budget

When deciding on how much to offer for a house you must have a clear picture of what you will need to spend to make any necessary changes once you've bought it. Know that refurbishment costs range from between €650 - €1,200 per square metre depending on the condition of the house and new buildings (this would include an extension) is approximately €2,000 per square metre.

Also, be wary of spending too much, you don't want to end up with a house that cost you more than the value of houses in the area. If houses on the road have a value of €350,000 for example, doing work that pushes the total purchase price up to €450,000 isn't a good idea.


Optimise Design Donal MurphyDonal Murphy Photography

5 Do your due diligence

If you're buying a new build, know that the show house will be the house in the best location. When selecting your house look at the orientation, proximity to the other houses and whether there will be any development planned around you. Run a planning search for the neighbouring areas and lands surrounding the house. This is an easy thing to do, all of the councils have a planning search facility that works by typing in an address. It will let you see what development is planned for the area and what the precedents for work similar to what you might plan to do yourself are.

6. Look for precedent

If you are planning to extend, look at your street. Have any of the neighbours done similar work? If they have, the chances of you getting planning to do our work are more favourable.

Donal Murphy Photography

7 Bigger isn't necessarily better


Try not to become obsessed with square footage. When it comes to a home bigger is not necessarily better. Instead, ask yourself whether or not the house can be adapted to suit you. Look at the proportions of the house and the garden. Is the garden large enough to allow you to build an extension? How will the work that you would like to do affect the existing house? If necessary, get an expert opinion on what's possible. It's a good idea to visit the house with an impartial builder or architect. Family members or friends may be too emotionally invested to give you honest advice.

8 Look for the opportunity to add value in the future

Can the attic be converted for example? In homes with small gardens, this may be the only way to gain additional space. The addition of a bedroom and bathroom can increase the value of your home by as much as 15%, but you need to make sure you have the headroom to convert the attic space. Unless you plan to add a dormer window or Velux style roof lights to the front of the house, an attic conversion is exempt from planning.

Featured image: Photo by Matt Jones on Unsplash

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