Rural House Buying Advice

A RURAL HOUSE


The subject of buying a rural house is covered here.

The Urban house is covered on a separate page.

As some properties ‘hover’ between the two categories it is suggested that reading both sections - rural house and urban house - would be an advantage.



‘Period property’ is a term often used by estate agents – what period? You will have to do your own research here.

When no measurements are given to a bathroom you may conclude that there is standing room only.

Boiler house usually translates into meaning boiler cupboard.

Walk-in pantry often means ‘a side-ways shuffle’ into a cupboard.

Do you need a study? Estate agents often designate a large landing as a study area. Not a very private place.

Bear in mind here that the Estate Agents are acting for the sellers - 'you' are on a rural house buying expedition.

These Agents need your custom, but they also need the commission they will receive from the Sellers. Therefore, they see their duty in the first place, as being towards the Sellers.

There are occasions when you have the luck to find a cooperative estate agent. He/she is worth their weight in gold as they will often shed light on submitting an offer for your chosen rural house etc.

With the increasing numbers of cases of flooding, whatever type of house you are interested in buying, if there have been reports of flooding in the area, it could well pay you to have a Landmark Survey This company, Landmark Information Group, is a Daily Mail and General Trust company with huge informational resources behind it.

There is a new kid on the block as far as buying and selling houses is concerned. Sarah Beeny of TV fame has a web site where you can buy and sell houses by advertising them yourself. She states there are no charges or commission for using the site - whether you're with an agent or not.

Coping with the Owner.

Unfortunately, truth often seems to fly out of the window on some occasions. When there are obvious signs of woodworm, death-watch beetle and dry rot in beams, why deny it?

An additional piece of information here - and it applies to both the urban and the rural house.

Cockroaches can survive for a considerable time without their heads!

If ever there was a case for calling in the pest exterminator surely this is it. Fingers crossed and you will never have to deal with such a problem.


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A rural house may often have a septic tank drainage system. If it pongs, why do owners try to disguise the fact when the overflow is clearly to be seen in the adjoining ditch?

Yes - their aim is to sell their property, but remember your aim is to save money. You should tactfully point out that under the stipulation regarding removal of all rubbish from the site, the tank must be emptied before you take possession.

If you can find a property that does not have all the unnecessary Estate Agent ‘embroidery’ it is probably well worth a look. An even greater bonus is when the owner is honest and forthcoming.

Having said all that, some agents are much fairer than others are and you will just need to sort them out to save yourself unnecessary waste of time and disappointment.

Some of the anomalies that apply to both sections are:

A floor plan is an asset, but not provided by every Agent.

If a floor plan is given, mark the measurements of your existing rooms on this new plan. This is a quick and easy way to compare sizes before you even visit a property.

A Grade 2 Listed rural house brings its own problems in that no alterations may be made to the outside without permission and then the guidance given must be followed to a T. This even extends down to the thickness of glass to be replaced in window frames.

As a general rule you will need to spend money rather than save money on a Grade 2 listed property as you will not be in charge of the final bill. Proceed with caution here and do your maths.

The allure of a timber framed, thatched cottage is great in the minds of many people being the epitomy of a rural house, but the subject needs to be approached with caution. Chocolate box cottages can look very charming and inviting but……

A house with a thatched roof will probably need expensive insurance. The main reason being fire hazard if there are also the usual open fireplaces in the property. A spark from a chimney can cause havoc. In addition re-thatching can be very expensive.

A Timber framed period rural house needs careful examination for woodworm, death-watch beetle and dry rot.

Also, ask yourself why there is this unexplained dip in the roof? Is the beam in the roof suffering from the attention of the above insects? The same applies to a dipping ceiling. One owner found - after buying the property - that such a dip was due to the fact that the main beam supporting the roof was rotten and in imminent danger of collapse. The need to save money needs to be kept firmly in your mind. Take a look at the recommendation at the bottom of this page.

When an extension has been added to a ‘period’ rural house check that the brick work ‘keys’ in well to the existing building. Also if these bricks on the new extension do not run level with the courses in the old part of the property then it will be impossible to ‘key’ in. In addition, if there is a seam of concrete running down the join, view this with great caution. It may hide a multitude of sins.

Clay lump and lathe and plaster are two methods of construction in many a period rural house that need to viewed with care. Clay lump is exactly what is says. The property is built with thick lumps of clay which has been shaped into large brick type portions, and then rendered.

A rural house constructed of lathe and plaster quickly looses heat when the central heating is switched off, and this is likely to cause a rise in heating bills, and some discomfort in winter. It will probably mean that the central heating has to be programmed to fire earlier in the morning and shut down later in the evening. Additionally, lathe and plaster houses can be draughty. Remember you are meant to save money here not spend it.

Wattle and Daub is another method of construction. This is wattle sticks erected as supports in the walls which are made of 'daub'. This daub can consist of mud, animal dung, anything to fill in the spaces between the wattles. Wattles need to be viewed with caution as they could contain wood worm. Also the wattle and daub construction in a rural house will show from the outside, even when it is colour washed an irregular surface can be seen.

On the plus side is the fact that some of these period houses have been standing for two hundred years or more and are likely to survive for another considerable period.

Just make sure that your final choice of a rural house - your future home - means you will be able to run the property in an efficient manner and not spend money on items that need an ever open purse/wallet.

Another point to be considered when you are inside a property that you have chosen. Can you hear clearly what is going on in the bathroom when you are in the next room? Take a friend/partner with you so that you can personally test this out. i.e., one of you visit the bathroom and use the facilities. Sometimes this can be quite an ear-opener.

Beware of a shared drive. This is another potential for discord. If your neighbour has grown-up children and they have cars, is there room for you and your family as well without a lot of shifting around? Also, when it comes for repairs to the drive to be done, this can cause problems if an amicable agreement is not reached prior to the need for repairs.

Regarding fencing you are normally responsible for the fence to the left-hand side when standing in the back garden, with your back towards the house. Clarify this before you exchange contracts as fencing is another item where you need to save money. It is surprising the number of owners who are unaware of which is their fencing - until, of course, a dispute arises.

Where ditches are concerned, country law dictates whoever owns the hedge owns the ditch.

Take a look at what buildings are around the rural house you are looking at? If there is a business beside the property and it is not thriving, will the site be sold and more houses built on the site? With the constant rise in population there is the need to build 73,000 additional houses every year, so in filling is a top priority.

Ask the seller as many questions as necessary. It pays to take a notebook with you listing all the points you wish to raise. You will not forget anything and you should make a note of the replies you are given. This is a sobering action where the seller is concerned. Just smile, be polite and direct with your question and see what type of answer you get.

If they give you a load of flim-flam you should ask yourself ‘What else are they hiding?’ You have this one chance to get information, and remembering how you must save money and not get caught, give this your 100% attention. Sometimes, it may be wiser to walk away.

A small point - if the house is in a state of general disorder inside, does this indicate that they buyers have no concern for the house or are too busy to see to these finer details? If so, what attention are they paying to the maintenance and structure of the house?

It all boils down to caveat emptor (buyer beware) and do your own research. Don’t rush into anything. It is like a marriage – marry in haste repent at leisure.

Whilst a Search by your solicitor is fine, if you do as much of your own detective work as possible beforehand you may well unearth information which will make you change your mind about the property in question before you proceed to the Solicitor stage. You will then avoid the expense of instructing your solicitor to perform the Search. Think save money! It pays to be nosey here.

When you think you have found your suitable property, before putting in an offer to the Agent, go back for a second viewing on another day and at a different time. This is an important point, as the character of the road or neighbourhood may have changed. Are large farm vehicles constantly using the road? Will this bother you?

This time, look objectively at each room - will your furniture fit in? Look at all the finer points.

When a Surveyor/Valuer from a Building Society inspects any property, their main concern is whether the Society will be able to recoup any money they loan to you, not the construction of the house. This 'survey' at time of writing will cost you in the region of £500 plus and last for around 15 minutes.

If you have any doubts about the structure of the house you may be well advised to seek the advice of

damp and timber surveyor who will have your best interests at heart.

If you also do your own research and you will have added advantage.


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