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Top 5 'Boring' But Essential Tips When Moving Home

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Moving home is notoriously stressful, but there are plenty of rookie mistakes that can be avoided with planning and better organising your time before you move.


Here are 5 must read tips from Moving Home Guide to save you time, money and stress when moving home. Don't forget to get our Free Report when you move or or for a detailed, bespoke report, order our Premium Report - the must-have checklist tailored for any UK property.


Get A House Survey (previously known as a Homebuyer's Report or Building Survey)


Firstly, what are these?


These are reports on a property that are organised and paid for by a perspective buyer of that property. They are obtained after an offer to buy has been accepted, giving much needed information to buyer so that they are well informed before they exchange contracts and complete on the purchase.


A survey will see a professional inspect the property and tell you about the condition of the property from minor issues to significant structural problems. They will identify if any repairs or alterations are required and even estimate the costs of any remedial work. The report also provides expert commentary on the property's architecture, from the type of walls and insulation through to the type of roof you have and whether they think and when it will require maintenance work.


Which property survey should I obtain?


There are several types of house survey. The type you choose generally match the age and condition of the property. The 3 mains types of surveys are as follows:


RICS Home Survey – Level 1

The RICS Home Survey Level 1 is the basic and cheapest survey. It is suitable if you’re buying a newer, conventional property in a reasonable condition. As well as assessing the property, it assesses the condition of different parts of the building, services, and the grounds. The report doesn’t provide a valuation of the property and has comparatively less advice and detail compared to the Level 2 and 3 reports.


RICS Home Survey – Level 2

The RICS Home Survey Level 2 is the mid-level survey is the most popular survey. It covers everything in the Level 1, plus they check roofs and cellars and gives recommendations for further investigations where the surveyor is unable to reach a conclusion with reasonable confidence. The report will provide an estimate for budgeting for repairs and on the amount of future maintenance required.


RICS Home Survey Level 2 come with or without a valuation. If you choose for 'with Valuation', it will also cover an insurance reinstatement amount and a list of potential issues that may affect the future value of the property.


RICS Home Survey – Level 3

The RICS Home Survey Level 3 is a full structural survey. It's usually obtained for properties older than 50 years old, for listed building, properties in poor condition or if you’re planning to undertake structural renovations. It covers everything in the Level 2, plus it will identify potential defects in areas not inspected and detail appropriate remedial work including timelines and costs.


Tip:

When moving to a new home its always worth making sure that the Chartered Surveyor carrying out the work is RICS regulated (RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).



Cladding - Making Sure The Flat You Buy Is Safe


The Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017 was the worst UK residential fire since the Second World War because of how the fire spread as a result of the building’s external cladding. Make sure you do your cladding research before buying a place that may not be safe or lead to significant costs as a result of buying an unsafe property in need of remedial work.


How will you know if the building has cladding in the first place?


If your building has unsafe cladding it will be marked on the External Wall Fire Review Form (EWS1). If that form has a B2 rating it means that the cladding needs remedial work to make it safe. B1 means that the risk does not require remedial work.


What other things should I find out about the building where the flat it?

  1. Does the building have an effective fire watch system (waking watch) or fire alarm system?

  2. What is the cost of this system and who pays for it?

  3. Is the building currently safe and if not what works are needed (including the removal and replacement of external cladding), who will pay for these works and how much will they cost?

Tip:

The EWS1 form can only be completed at the request of the building’s owner or the managing agent. If an assessment has already been carried out, you can request a copy.


If an EWS1 isn't available and the Managing Agent or Landlord is being slow to obtain this assessment, get your local council involved.


The UK government is frequently changing the guidance around costs and regulations around cladding so keep an eye out for updates.



Get A Local Authority Search (if you're buying a house or apartment i.e. these isn't needed if you're renting)


Firstly, what are these?


Local authority searches are usually conducted by a conveyancer which is a term for a lawyers that specialises in the legal side of moving home. You don't have to use a conveyancer, but given the risk of getting this wrong, we'd say you'd be crazy not to get a legal professional on your side. Remember relatively speaking they cost a tiny % of the overall property investment (their fees usually range from £300-£1,000) you are about to make and if they mess up then they're the ones that are liable and not you!


Here's how Local Authority Searches work:


There are two parts to a local authority search and they usually cost between £100-250 depending on your Council.


The Local Land Charge Register search (LLC1) and The Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29).


The LLC1 covers:

  • If the property requires improvement or a renovation grant

  • If the property is located in a conservation area

  • If the property is located in a smoke control zone

  • Planning agreements or conditional planning permissions

  • Whether the property is in a tree preservation order area

  • If the property is a listed building

  • If any financial charges are registered against the property

The CON29 covers:

  • Environmental factors e.g. whether the property is on contaminated land

  • Radon Gas levels

  • Potential concerns such as the risk of subsidence

  • Proposals for new roads, traffic and rail schemes in the area surrounding the property

  • Future planning decisions that could affect the property and the surrounding area

The Local Authority Search won't cover everything so speak to your conveyancer and mortgage lender too in case they require additional searches. You can then agree these upfront when hiring your conveyancer before hiring them.


Other additional searches include:

  • A Drainage and Water Search which searches the water authority’s records to check that the property is connected to mains water supply and drainage

  • A CON290, which provides additional information of any changes planned for the future that may affect your property

  • An Environmental Search which details the risk of flooding, proximity to any waste sites and other potentially contaminated areas

Tips:

Make sure you understand what happens if your purchase falls through. Some conveyancers will only require you to pay a part of their fees if your sale falls through or provide a fixed fee until you complete on a property purchase (remember their fees are separate to search fees which won't be covered by them).


Check if your conveyancer is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and is accredited by the Conveyancing Quality Scheme.



Leaseholders Tenure & Fees


Firstly, what are these fees?


There are three types of leasehold charges: ground rent, service charges and administration charges (or management fees). New build properties may also ask for estate management charges.


Check with your conveyancer whether ground rent applies to you. Changes to the law, may mean that they don't apply any longer.


Service charges apply to cover building and communal area maintenance. Check with your conveyancer to establish of lease administrator has any significant planned works for which you will be responsible.


A Lease Administrator is likely to charge administration fees if you ask for a service connected with your buying, selling or use of the property. For instance this can include accessing the LPE1 and LPE2 forms, exit or transfer fees etc.


Do I need to extend my lease?

A leasehold property, unlike a freehold one, is not owned outright by the buyer when they purchase it. Instead you ‘lease’ it from the freeholder for a set number of years, which typically range from 99 to 125 years, but can be as high as 999 years. If the remaining lease is less than 80 years, this can potentially impact the value of the property both now and when you come to sell the property in the future.


Based on the remaining length of the lease, it may be worth speaking to a lease extension solicitor to understand the costs to extend the lease, but it may be worth getting the extension agreed before completing on the purchase.


Tips:

Before you buy a property, if the remaining length on a lease is less than 99 years, you may want to arrange an extension before completing the purchase.


Establish what your additional costs will be if you choose to buy the apartment i.e. work through the list above.



Check Your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)


Firstly, what are these?


An EPC tells you how energy efficient a home is and gives it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). Your home's rating will give you some indication of how much your energy bills will cost relative to equivalent homes.


A certificate is valid for 10 years and a home can’t be sold or let without one. The survey of the property, designed to work out its energy efficiency, will usually take between 45 minutes to an hour, and is carried out by what is known as Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs). EPCs usually cost between £45 - £125.


If you are renting a property, as of 2018, the minimum EPC for a property should be E- and any cost to get the property to this level should be borne by the landlord.


Tip:

Our Premium Report will confirm if any property in England, Wales or Northern Ireland has an EPC and whether it is valid, when it was issued and when it will expire.


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