Surveys, Cladding and Roofs: Homeowners’ Biggest Buying Regrets

As the Stamp Duty holiday begins tapering off and many industry experts expect the housing market to slowly start cooling off, we’ve taken a look at what decisions homeowners regret making when they bought their houses.

First4Lawyers polled 1,323 people to find out what their biggest home-buying regrets were.

Some of the responses reflected real emotion from owners. Here’s what we discovered.

Our survey says

Getting 29% of the responses, not getting a full survey was most people’s biggest regret. One respondent said not getting an independent survey was sure to be a regret for many buyers, with a number of newbuild properties not being built to high standards.

A recent buyer of a newbuild told us that she’s had so many problems since moving in that she regretted not having a professional snagging survey done. She added that she wouldn’t buy a newbuild again. Meanwhile, another person we polled said that their HomeBuyer Report didn’t pick up on the damp present in the entire property.

A roof over your head

Roofs proved to be a problem for a significant number of homeowners too. A total of 23% said they regretted not getting the roof properly checked out when they bought their home. With this being the only line of defence between the sky and those living in the house, it’s vital that it’s in good condition.

With the average cost of a roof inspection at £250, it could be worth investing in one before committing to buying your home as your survey may not turn up all potential issues with it.

Boiling anger

Just over a fifth of respondents (21%) said they regretted not checking the boiler before they bought their home. As these can run into the thousands to replace, this could be an expensive regret.

It’s always advisable to closely inspect the boiler when viewing a property and to ask for the service history and any other information relating to the boiler. If it isn’t good news, you could at least use that information to further negotiate on price and arrange to have the boiler repaired or replaced before moving in.

Other concerns

Cladding was a major concern for 15% of buyers who reported other regrets. One owner of a leasehold property said that despite doing everything right when buying, the cladding situation has left them facing bankruptcy.

Another owner said they’d taken all the necessary steps but trusting the professionals, developers and regulations has meant they now own a “death trap” that’s now worthless. A separate respondent said that the cladding on their flat required £45,000 of work to make safe, leaving them unable to sell or remortgage the property for years.

Leasehold properties continued to prove controversial in our poll, with one respondent resorting to expletives to fully express her regret at buying one. But there may be some solace for leasehold owners, after Aviva and Persimmon agreed to changes in the way they operate. Aviva will stop doubling ground rents, while Persimmon will offer thousands of homeowners a discount to buy the freehold.

Although not a regret, affordability was a significant issue we identified through our poll. We spoke to a number of people who said they couldn’t vote as they wouldn’t even be able to afford to buy a home.

But in more positive news, some people reported no regrets at all. One owner said he’d bought four houses to date without any regrets, while another said she’d lived in her home for 30 years, adding that it was the best buy ever.

Our tips for new buyers

It can pay to learn from others’ regrets. We recommend that buyers:

  • Get a comprehensive survey

Paying a little extra in the short term can deliver serious benefits – and peace of mind – in the long term. Consider additional surveys, such as newbuild snagging reports and roof inspections, to really cover all bases.

  • Know what their chain looks like

It’s important to know just what your chain looks like. We heard from one owner who said dealing with a chain was his biggest regret, explaining that he’s been involved in two chains that both fell through.

  • Meet their neighbours

Your neighbours can make a huge difference to your experience living in your home. A number of respondents regretted not checking on the neighbours they would be sharing a street with. When viewing properties, just knock on some doors and have a quick chat to get a feel for the neighbours.

  • Pay attention to storage

Don’t forget about the belongings that will be moving in with you. If there is no built-in storage, are there at least spaces where you could create storage?

  • Research public transport

Knowing what the public transport situation is can be important, regardless of how often you use it. One respondent told us his biggest regret was moving somewhere with poor public transport. So look into local stations and stops and try to find out if more are planned or existing ones are closing.

  • Spend time in the garden

With more people working from home, gardens are becoming a priority for many. Make sure it’s big enough for your needs and try to find out where the sun will fall in the garden at different parts of the day, if applicable. Not doing this was one respondent’s biggest regret.

  • Visit the area at different times of the day and night

Areas can change when the sun goes down. One survey respondent said: “This place is beautiful in the daylight when you can hear a pin drop, but in the evening it becomes a race track for boy racers and dogs bark constantly.”


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