What to look for when viewing a house

Last updated: April 2024 | 4 min read

Viewing a house as a buyer is an art. From the very groundwork to the surrounding community, every facet merits close examination. This guide sheds light on the often overlooked techniques for viewing properties, whether in-person or virtually, enriching your overall experience.

When you begin your home-buying journey, some concerns will be in your mind such as the costs of buying a house or learning strategies of making an offer on a house and negotiating.

It would be beneficial for you to know what is gazumping and how to avoid being gazumped once your heart is set on a property you want to purchase.

Before you set out on your search, you must know what to look for in a house. Discover how to identify the features that will make a huge difference in the long run. Here's a comprehensive list of questions to ask when viewing a house.

House viewing checklist

To ensure you make an informed decision and avoid overlooking essential details, use this comprehensive house viewing checklist.

What to look for inside the house

Every room tells its own story. Scrutinize each space to ensure it aligns with your vision. Here's what you should look for inside each room:

The kitchen

The heart of any home, the kitchen is a vital space.

Start by checking the condition of appliances, ensuring they are in good working order. Test the taps and sink for water pressure and drainage issues.

Look for signs of dampness or water damage, especially near sinks and pipes.

Consider if the kitchen layout suits your needs and if there's enough storage for your culinary gadgets.

Bathroom and plumbing

Inspect the bathrooms properly. Examine the plumbing to avoid any potential future plumbing nightmares.

Flush toilets, turn on faucets and look for leaks.

Check the condition of tiles and grouting, as well as the functionality of showers and baths.

Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent dampness, so ensure there's a working extractor fan or window.

Living rooms and bedrooms

In the living spaces, focus on the overall layout and room size. Is the space big enough for your needs?

Check for natural light, and consider how the arrangement of furniture could affect the flow of the room.

Look for signs of wear and tear on walls and floors. A fresh coat of paint can hide many flaws, so be attentive.

Storage space

Storage is often overlooked but can make a big difference in your daily life.

Inspect built-in wardrobes and cupboards to see if they are sufficient for your belongings. You'll thank yourself later if there's ample storage space.

The attic

The attic is frequently overlooked, yet it holds ample significance within a home. Think about how accessible it is. What storage capacity does it offer? Is there proper insulation? Can it be transformed into an additional bedroom? These factors bear weight when purchasing a house, as they can significantly impact utility bills and overall comfort.

Natural light

The amount of natural light a room receives can greatly impact your mood and energy bills.

Open curtains and blinds to gauge the level of sunlight.

Consider the direction the room faces; south-facing rooms often receive more light throughout the day.

Energy efficiency

Look for double-glazed windows and insulation. These can help keep your home warm and save on heating bills.

Inquire about the property's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to understand its energy efficiency rating. A higher rating means better energy efficiency.


When you visit a house, don't forget to check the condition of the floors. See if there are any issues with the floorboards and what it would cost to get them fixed.


Fireplaces fall into the category of "fixtures and fittings" within a contract. It is expected that the fireplace is operational unless specified otherwise. If the fireplace is advertised as functional but is in a state of disrepair or poses safety risks, it could lead to potential liability issues later.

What to look for in the house's exterior

Now let's move on to other important aspects of house viewing.

Windows and doors

When viewing a potential new home, pay close attention to the condition of the windows and doors.

These elements not only affect the aesthetics but also impact the energy efficiency and security of the property. Here's what you should consider:

Window frames: start by inspecting the window frames. Look for any signs of damage, such as rot or decay.

Well-maintained frames enhance the property's appearance and contribute to its insulation. Make sure the windows open and close smoothly without any creaking or resistance.

Double glazing and insulation: double-glazed windows are a significant plus in any property. They provide better insulation, keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Check for any condensation between the glass panes, as this can indicate issues with the seal.

Enquire about the type of insulation used in the windows and doors to assess their energy efficiency.

The garden

The garden of a house can be a wonderful space for relaxation, entertainment, and even gardening. Here's what to look for during a viewing:

  • Size and layout: is the garden large enough for your needs? Does it have a layout that suits your lifestyle, whether you have children who need space to play or you simply want a peaceful retreat?

  • Maintenance: assess the state of the garden. Is it well-maintained, or does it require extensive work? Consider your willingness and ability to invest time and effort in its upkeep.

  • Sunlight: observe the garden's exposure to sunlight throughout the day. A south-facing garden tends to receive more sun, which can be a significant advantage for plant growth and outdoor activities.

  • Privacy: check if the garden offers the level of privacy you desire. Are there high fences, hedges, or trees that shield you from prying eyes?

  • Drainage: look for any signs of poor drainage, as this can lead to waterlogged or marshy areas, which may limit how you can use the garden.

Exterior brickwork

A house's exterior is not just about aesthetics; it's also about the structural integrity of the property. Pay attention to the following aspects of the exterior brickwork:

  • Cracks and damage: inspect the brickwork for cracks, chips, or any signs of damage. While minor cracks may not be a major concern, extensive damage could indicate more significant structural issues.

  • Mortar joints: check the condition of the mortar joints between the bricks. Crumbling or deteriorating mortar may need to be repaired.

  • Dampness: look for any areas where moisture appears to be penetrating the brickwork. Damp patches or water stains can signal problems with insulation or drainage.

  • Repairs: ask the seller or estate agent about any recent repairs or maintenance performed on the exterior. This information can provide insights into the property's overall condition.

Flat roofs and roof tiles

The roof is a critical component of any house, and its condition can impact your future maintenance costs. When examining the roof, consider the following:

  • Flat roofs: if the property has a flat roof, check for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Flat roofs can be prone to leaks, so it's essential to ensure they are in good condition.

  • Tiled roofs: in the case of a tiled roof, inspect the tiles for missing, cracked, or loose ones. Damaged tiles can lead to water infiltration and internal damage.

  • Guttering and drainage: examine the gutters and drainage systems on the roof. They should be clear of debris and in good working order to prevent water buildup and potential leaks.

  • Insulation: enquire about the roof's insulation, as this can affect the property's energy efficiency and heating costs.

General considerations

When you're on the hunt for your dream home, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. However, it's crucial to keep your eyes open for some general considerations that can significantly impact your decision-making process. Here's what to look for when viewing a house:

Confirming land inclusion

Before you fall head over heels for a property, make sure you're clear about the boundaries. Check whether the land you're viewing includes the entire property or if there are shared spaces or common areas. Understanding the extent of your ownership is essential for long-term peace of mind.

What's included in the sale?

Not everything you see during a house viewing may be part of the deal.

Fixtures and fittings, such as light fixtures, may or may not be included in the sale.

Clarify with the seller or estate agent what exactly is staying behind when you move in and what you may need to replace or purchase.

Water pressure and energy bills

Water pressure can affect your daily life, from showers to washing dishes.

During your viewing, test the taps and showers to ensure water pressure is sufficient for your needs.

Enquire about the property's energy efficiency, as this can have a significant impact on your utility bills. Look for signs of insulation and ask about the property's energy rating.

Power sockets and light switches

It's the little things that matter when it comes to everyday convenience. Check how many power sockets are there and are they in handy spots? Ensure there are enough to accommodate your lifestyle and preferences.

Check light switches in each room.

Consider whether you may need to invest in additional electrical work after moving in.

Council tax and tax bands

Council tax is a recurring expense you'll need to factor into your budget as a homeowner.

Enquire about the property's council tax band and the current rates. Different areas may have varying tax rates, so it's essential to be aware of the financial commitments associated with your potential new home.

Local area and amenities

Your home isn't just about the four walls; it's also about the surrounding neighbourhood.

Take time to explore the local area during your viewing. Are there nearby shops, schools, healthcare facilities, and parks? Assess whether the neighbourhood meets your needs and aligns with your lifestyle.

Conservation areas and listed buildings:

Conservation areas are designated locations with distinctive architectural or historical significance, where preserving and enhancing their unique character and appearance is deemed important.

Buildings built before 1700 and largely intact are likely to be listed, as are most from 1700 to 1850. Those under 30 years old are typically not considered historically or architecturally significant. If you want to buy in a listed building, there may be special regulations that may not allow you any of your planned renovations in the future.

Transport links and mobile phone coverage

Easy access to transportation and good mobile phone coverage are often underestimated factors in choosing a home.

Evaluate the proximity of public transport links and the reliability of mobile phone signal strength in the area. These aspects can significantly impact your daily life and convenience.

These general considerations may not be the most glamorous part of house hunting, but they are undoubtedly important. Taking the time to assess these factors during your house viewing can help you make an informed decision and ensure that your dream home doesn't come with unwanted surprises.

Fire alarms and burglar alarms

While viewing a house, it is worth enquiring about the alarms and also to ensure that they are in working order. If not, this will be a cost you will need to factor into your budget.

Helpful house viewing tips

Make it a conducive viewing experience by keeping the following points in your mind:

1. Take your time

When viewing a property, don't rush. Take your time to thoroughly inspect every aspect of the house. Rushing through a viewing can lead to missing consequential details.

2. Take someone along

It's a good idea to bring along a trusted friend or family member. They may notice things you overlook or provide valuable input. Two sets of eyes are often better than one.

3. Get a professional property survey

Consider investing in a professional property survey. A qualified surveyor can provide an in-depth analysis of the property's condition, helping you make an informed decision.

4. Remain objective

While it's easy to get emotionally attached to a house, try to maintain objectivity and emotional detachment, even if you have fallen in love at first glance.

Focus on the practical aspects and whether the property meets your needs rather than making an emotional decision too soon.

5. Document with photos and videos

Bring a camera or smartphone to document the property. Photos and videos can be valuable references when comparing different houses later on. Plus, they help you remember the details.

6. Effectively communicate with the estate agent

Establish clear and open communication with the estate agent. Ask questions, express concerns, and seek clarification on any issues. They are there to assist you throughout the process.

Virtual house viewings

Virtual house viewings have become an invaluable tool for potential homebuyers. They allow you to get a sneak peek into a property from the comfort of your own home. Here's what you need to know about virtual house viewings:

Convenience at your fingertips

Virtual house viewings offer unparalleled convenience. You can explore multiple properties without leaving your living room. This is particularly handy if you're browsing homes in a different city or even country. All you need is an internet connection and a device, and you're ready to embark on your virtual house-hunting journey.

360-degree tours

One of the highlights of virtual viewings is the ability to take 360-degree tours of the property. This immersive experience lets you navigate through rooms and spaces, getting a comprehensive feel for the layout and flow of the house. It's like being there in person, minus the travel.

Zooming in on details

Virtual viewings allow you to zoom in on specific details of the property that might go unnoticed during an in-person visit. You can closely examine fixtures, fittings, and finishes. This level of scrutiny can help you identify any potential issues or areas that need attention.

Cost-effective explorations

Traveling to view properties can be costly and time-consuming. Virtual viewings save you both time and money. You can quickly eliminate properties that don't meet your criteria without the need for physical visits, narrowing down your choices efficiently.

Scheduling flexibility

With virtual viewings, you have the flexibility to explore properties at your own pace. You can schedule viewings at times that suit you, whether it's early morning, late evening, or during your lunch break. This flexibility ensures you don't miss out on any opportunities.

Get a second opinion

While virtual viewings provide a wealth of information, it's often a good idea to seek a second opinion from someone you trust. Share the virtual tour with a family member, friend, or advisor who can offer a fresh perspective and spot things you might have missed.

Evaluate neighbouring properties

Virtual viewings also allow you to assess the surrounding area. Use tools like Google Street View to explore the neighbourhood, check out nearby amenities, and get a sense of the overall environment. It's essential to consider the location when making a property decision.

Engage with estate agents

Even in the virtual realm, communication with estate agents remains crucial. Reach out to them with any questions or concerns you may have after your virtual viewing. They can provide additional information and address any uncertainties, ensuring you make an informed decision.

Key takeaways

Assess the building's structure: one of the most important aspects to consider is the structural integrity of the house. Look for any signs of cracks, sagging, or dampness. These could indicate underlying issues that may require costly repairs.

Pay attention to detail: pay close attention to every detail. Check every room properly. Look at the walls, ceilings, and floors. Are there any water stains or uneven surfaces? A meticulous observation can uncover hidden problems.

Think of the bills: in an era of rising energy costs, you must assess the energy efficiency of a house. Check for insulation, energy-efficient windows, and energy ratings. Are the windows double or triple glazed? This can impact your long-term utility bills.

Spend time in neighbourhood investigation: take time to explore the surrounding area. Are there amenities like shops, schools, and parks nearby? Investigate the neighbourhood to ensure it suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Following these tips will ensure you have a thorough understanding of the house, and whether it's right for you. Happy house hunting!

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