One interesting question from a house buyer

Last week, I had a conversation with a future client of mine. I haven’t asked what his nationality was, but he came up with a very interesting question: What would be red flags for picking a house when you want to buy a house? He is planning to buy a house on short notice, and he wanted to know what will cost him too much to renovate. This question is the reason for this blog.

Of course, this is a general blog. If there are just a few small things to cope with, it won’t be a reason not to buy a house. Others, love to take calculated risks. It’s up to you.

Different situations, different choices

Some people love a large do-it-yourself project, and try to save a lot of money by doing renovations themselves. Others, love to buy a house which is already finished or, like to renovate an old house completely to their own wishes.

This blog is written to inform and help you to decide whether you want to buy that house or look further. One of those 8 situations, probably won’t be a problem for you. However, it may be a different case when your new house phase more of these situations.

When you buy a house, it could be a good idea to ask for a technical inspection. So, you know what kind of house you are purchasing.

1. Foundation problems

Are you planning to buy a house in areas below sea level and before the 1970s, check the foundation. The house would most probably build on wooden poles. How would you check the condition of the foundation? Ideal, you ask a professional to do it for you. In other cases, you can use this blog as a guide.

2. Asbestos

Asbestos is used in many forms, as it’s an insulation and fireproof material. You may find it also in sealant, flooring and roofing. The reason to be cautious with this material, is that it can harm your health in the long run. The government forbid using asbestos in 1992.

Is the house built before the 1990s, then there is a chance that there is asbestos in the house. If it is only a chimney pipe behind a wall, don’t worry. That is a minor thing. When it’s the whole roof insulation, think twice, as removing will cost a lot of money. And, in the near future, it’s not allowed to have asbestos as a roofing material any more.

For more information, check out this blog.

3. Rotten wooden window frames

Maybe, this is a surprising one. Wood is a fantastic material. It’s easy to form, strong, and some types of wood are very durable. In the Netherlands, there is a sea climate. It can be very humid, the perfect condition for wood to rot. So, to keep the wood dry and preserve it, a paint layer is applied. Also, the construction of wooden items is important. As small cracks can soak water in.

Rotten wood is not always visible. Replacing window frames for a whole house can easily cost €15.000.

More information about taking care of the exterior of your house, you find here

4. Leakages

What happens a lot when people, viewing a house, look at a spot in the ceiling and ask: what’s that? The broker says: “it was a leakage, and it’s solved”. However, sometimes it is good to ask: how long ago is it solved?

A story: About 8 years ago, my husband and I were looking for a house to buy. We saw a house, which was just built 3 years before. It was short after the house crisis, and this house had been empty for 3 years. We went for a look, as it was a spacious house in a neighbourhood where we loved to live. The first viewing went okay. We saw only a leakage in the garage. The broker said: it will be solved.

After two weeks, we were still seriously interested and went again for a viewing. At that time, we also discovered a leak in the roof of that house. That made us think: is it wise to buy this house? We decided to look further. It took some time before we bought a house, where we are still satisfied with. And still, we are glad that we didn’t buy that house.

Another story: a client of mine bought a house. The water pipe under the foundation was leaking, without knowing it. After a few months they found out, that 30m3 of water had been spoiled and some ground needed replacement.

5. Replacing flat roofs

Every 25–30 years, flat roofs need replacement. When it’s only a dormer, it’s not a problem at all. That’s just normal maintenance. However, if your new house needs a complete flat roof, it’s another thing to keep in mind.

6. Constructional problems

Issues with a house are not always visible. Cracks in the walls can be an indication of constructional problems. Some are just because the house settles after a few years. Others, have other causes like leakages which caused beams to loosen in strength.

Did you know when you buy a house, the current owner needs to inform you what problems the house is facing?

7. Overdue maintenance

When you buy a house, there is always some maintenance to do. Like replacing a hot water boiler or a layer of paint in the living room. It’s a completely other situation if almost no maintenance has taken place for 10 years. But what is good maintenance? In my opinion, good maintenance is replacing things which are broken and keeping the condition of elements safe and sound.

To give you an example: I know a couple, who thought: we will move within 5 years, so no maintenance is needed. It’s just throwing money away now. As a result, the dormer wasn’t replaced and caused a leakage. The glass blades were replaced, however after 5 years the window frames needed replacement too. In the end, when they sold the house, it was sold below the average market price. And, the new owner completely renovated that house, before someone could live in it.

How do you recognize overdue maintenance? It’s not always visible at first sight. It’s mostly in the details, like cracks in paint layers, smell, small leakages etc. To know sure that the house you bought is in a reasonable condition, ask for a detailed technical inspection.

Are you in for a do-it-yourself project? These houses are normally on the market for a lower price. However, take into account that unexpected surprises could happen when you start making your dream house.

Do you need a guide for maintaining your house? Download the maintenance calendar, for free, by clicking here.

8. Noise

How you experience noise, is different from person to person. However, in some houses you can follow the conversations of the neighbours. Or, at school times, children play outside in front of your door. Some people like it, others need some more rest. Good to keep in mind.

My advice when buying a house

In short: Do your research and do it well. That limits risks, and you know what kind of house you are buying. Also, when buying an older house, reserve some money for renovation works. The best time to do large renovations is before you live in your new house. And, last but not least, keep in mind that always something unexpected can happen.

Thinking about renovating of your new house, and have a lot of questions? Don’t hesitate to book a 15-minute online meeting for free, by clicking this link. Love to help you in your journey.


Take off to a successful house renovation by downloading the Renovation Guide for free.

- Start off successfully by turning your Dutch house into a dream home.

- Stop overthinking the renovation steps and make the best possible renovation start.

- Save your valuable time by using this renovation guide so that you can enjoy your renovated house soon. 

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