Prospective first-time buyer Isaac Williams has prepared a checklist of what he wants from his first home, including why double-glazing and reliable electrics are essential.
First-world problem alert: I live in a flat with single glazed windows. Of course, there are worse injustices and greater global issues at play. But when you’re next door to a nursery – and subjected to five hours of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, and the more contemporary ‘I’m Driving In My Car’ every single day – another pane of glass would go a long way to safeguarding the old sanity. It also means our heating bill is sky-high in winter, and that we argue over who gets the fan in summer. All of which is to say that double glazing will be somewhere towards the top of our list of priorities when the property viewing starts in earnest.
First-time buyer’s checklist
But what else needs to be on the checklist? Because there does need to be one – I know that much. Having viewed my fair share of damp basements and prison-cell rooms in the rental world, I’m aware that being prepared with a list of practical questions can save a whole load of stress later down the line. Does the boiler work, for example? Are any of the neighbours’ kids learning to play the drums? Why are there bodies under the floorboards? That sort of thing.
A quick Google search throws up some even more sensible suggestions, including previous owners, why the property is on the market, utility bills and the history of renovations. Based on my experience of renting in London, though, here’s a list of arguably less serious but no less important factors my girlfriend and I will be looking for.
A sturdy kitchen
Firstly, is the kitchen held together with fittings and screws, or Pritt Stick? Admittedly, you can have more fun with the latter. Knocking off wobbly bits of skirting board every time I hoover or trying to balance the bit of plywood that covers up the rubble under the oven, both provide hours of entertainment, but are arguably not the best use of time. What a treat it would be to have a kitchen that doesn’t look like it’s been put together for a primary school art project. Perhaps we’ll even be able to find somewhere where multiple plug sockets can be used – get this – at the same time.
Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be nice to have working electrics? I’m not saying I don’t get a buzz from playing ‘Guess Which Socket Will Work Today’, or the equally enjoyable ‘Who Can Get The Light To Work?’ but I think I’m ready to leave the small sense of impending electrocution behind.
A decent-sized fridge
Finally, how big is the fridge? And if it’s tiny, is there room for a bigger one? This is not a deal-breaker but having lived in a place with a fridge barely big enough for a pint of milk (and a freezer drawer that would be just about roomy enough for one ice tray, if it shut properly and didn’t leak all over the floor), somewhere to keep, I don’t know, two lunches cool at once, wouldn’t go amiss.
A powerful shower
Notable mentions, also, to such demands as ‘is the shower pressure strong enough to wash away soap?’ ‘How much is council tax?’ And ‘Where’s the nearest pub?’
Hopefully being armed with such questions will make for a smoother process and reduce the number of unsuitable places we’re talked into viewing. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a chorus to join in with. Sing along at home:
I’m driving in my car
I’m driving in my car
Beep, beep, beep, beep, I’m driving in my car