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The seven property issues you must look out for when buying a house – or risk paying up to £40,000 to fix them

SEARCHING for a new property is an exciting time, whether it’s for your first home or something for retirement.

However, it can be easy to miss several property issues, which could result in costly repairs of up to £40,000.

Plus, we’ve explained how to go about finding the right surveyor for you

From dodgy insulation to invasive plants and missing roof tiles, buyers need to be aware of a host of issues.

Some problems could make it hard to get a mortgage to buy a house or flat in the first place.

Plus, if you were to buy a property and fail to fix these issues, you risk paying an increased insurance premium.

To help prospective buyers avoid costly repairs or an increased insurance premium, Saga’s property expert, Anna Thunstrom, has explained the seven problems to look out for.

SUBSIDENCE – £6,000-£14,000

Subsidence is when the ground beneath a building sinks, pulling the home’s foundations down with it.

Cracks, particularly around doors and windows, are the main sign of subsidence, as they are weak points in a building’s structure.

Anna says: “Whilst minor cracks under 0.5 millimetres in width are normal, larger cracks extending from windows, doorways or corners could indicate subsidence – when the property’s foundations have begun to sink.”

“A surveyor will pick up on this kind of issue, and they’d be able to give you an accurate rebuild cost for insurance purposes.

“However, to spot early signs at a viewing, try opening and closing internal doors to check for sticking or any gaps in the frames.

“Place a small ball on the floor and see if it noticeably rolls in any direction, which could indicate sinking.”

The cost of fixing a subsidence issue can range from £6,000 to £14,000. 

INVASIVE PLANTS – £1,000-£12,000

You should always have a decent look around a property’s garden to check for certain plants.

Japanese knotweed, for example, is an aggressive plant, and lenders used to have almost zero tolerance if it were found near a home because of fears it would damage the property.  

Anna says: “An overgrown, wild garden may seem like a fun project to redesign, but it’s wise to ask about invasive plants like Japanese knotweed, bamboo, buddleia, and ivy that can be hard to control. 

“Japanese knotweed is particularly notorious for causing structural damage to buildings, potentially impacting the property’s value.

“As a result, sellers are obliged to disclose its presence. It grows rapidly in summer and is most prominent from August to September.”

It could cost anywhere between £1,000 to £12,000 to have Japanese knotweed removed.

MISSING ROOF TILES – £5,000-£8,000

The cost of a new roof, depending on the type, is between £5,000 and £8,000. 

Checking for missing roof tiles could be a good indicator of whether or not a roof is in good shape.

Anna says: “Make sure you walk around the property to check the exterior.

“Tell-tale signs of a roof in disrepair are missing or loose tiles or any roof debris on the floor.

“If only a few tiles are affected, then it could be an affordable fix, but if a whole new roof is needed, then you could be looking at a hefty bill running into the thousands.”


Checking the temperature changes between different rooms of a house can be a useful indicator of the property’s insulation level.

Anna says: “Poor insulation is one of the most common causes of temperature imbalances, with poorly fitted windows being a problem now sometimes seen in new builds.  

“Pay attention to the temperature of each room.

“This can be harder to tell during the summer months, but if one room is noticeably hotter or colder than others, then it could indicate issues with insulation or the heating and ventilation systems. 

“Ask what type of glazing the windows have and about the insulation in the walls and roof.”

Poor insulation can increase energy bills as much as £340 annually.

Insulation in cavity walls can cost around £15 per square metre, amounting to £1,275 for a typical room.

Depending on the size, design, and materials, the average cost for double-glazing windows ranges from £450 to £1,200. 

How do I find a surveyor?

YOU'LL need to carry out some simple steps to find a surveryor to carry our your house survey.

Don’t just go with your estate agent’s recommendations.

By all means, get a quote, but shop around to avoid paying more.

You can compare quotes with Home Owners Alliance’s simple tool by visiting

You should always make sure your surveyor is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Once you’ve compiled a list of quotes, it is wise to consider whether the surveyor is local.

Those from the area may have better knowledge of the property and its surroundings.

It’s also wise to find a surveyor with the right experience.

For example, if you’re buying an older or listed property then look for someone who’s already surveyed similar properties.

It’s also worth checking reviews online to see what previous customers have thought.


It’s always important to check for damp and mould.

It’s not only costly to repair but also detrimental to your health.

Anna says: “Take the opportunity to examine the walls and ceilings to notice any potential damp and mould problems, such as stains, damp patches upon touch or a musty odour.

“This can indicate water damage to the property, which is costly if left untreated.”

“Sellers are legally obliged to disclose damp or mould issues. Ask the owner or agent if you have any concerns or if the property is freshly painted, which can sometimes cover such signs.”

The cost of mould removal per room can range from £200 to £400 and up to £1,200 for the whole house. 


Blocked gutters have the potential to cause leaks indoors and erosion to the property’s foundation, resulting in weakened walls and cracks.

Anna says: “Foundation problems can inflict significant structural damage, and it’s worth noting that most, if not all, home insurance policies don’t cover damage due to poor maintenance, such as not keeping the gutters clear and in good order.

“Look out for sagging gutters that are caused by debris and water weighing them down.

“If it’s raining, observe if water runs down the side of the house, indicating potential blockages.”

The average cost of replacing gutters is around £900 – which equates to around £45 per metre.


The cost of a plumber callout for a faulty tap or leaking pipe averages £300 to £400 a day.

So, it’s important to check that everything’s in working order.

Anna says: “Simple checks like turning on bathroom and kitchen taps can tell you a lot about the property’s plumbing.

“If water comes out as a trickle, it could indicate hard water and limescale buildup, which blocks water flow.

“Additionally, inconsistent water pressure, particularly high water pressure, can affect the flow of water in taps and cause a leak, which may indicate plumbing work could be necessary.” 

How can I get the best mortgage deal?

IF you're looking for a traditional type of mortgage, getting the best rates depends entirely on what's available at any given time.

There are several ways to land the best deal.

Usually the larger the deposit you have the lower the rate you can get.

If you’re remortgaging and your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) has changed, you’ll get access to better rates than before.

Your LTV will go down if your outstanding mortgage is lower and/or your home’s value is higher.

A change to your credit score or a better salary could also help you access better rates.

And if you’re nearing the end of a fixed deal soon it’s worth looking for new deals now.

You can lock in current deals sometimes up to six months before your current deal ends.

Leaving a fixed deal early will usually come with an early exit fee, so you want to avoid this extra cost.

But depending on the cost and how much you could save by switching versus sticking, it could be worth paying to leave the deal – but compare the costs first.

To find the best deal use a mortgage comparison tool to see what’s available.

You can also go to a mortgage broker who can compare a much larger range of deals for you.

Some will charge an extra fee but there are plenty who give advice for free and get paid only on commission from the lender.

You’ll also need to factor in fees for the mortgage, though some have no fees at all.

You can add the fee – sometimes more than £1,000 – to the cost of the mortgage, but be aware that means you’ll pay interest on it and so will cost more in the long term.

You can use a mortgage calculator to see how much you could borrow.

Remember you’ll have to pass the lender’s strict eligibility criteria too, which will include affordability checks and looking at your credit file.

You may also need to provide documents such as utility bills, proof of benefits, your last three month’s payslips, passports and bank statements.


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