Three common property problems house-hunters should watch out for

Before beginning your search for a new home, it's important to familiarise yourself with the issues that houses (particularly older ones) often have. Arming yourself with this knowledge will enable you to make an informed decision about which property is right for you. Here are three things to watch out for. 

Foundation failure

Foundation failure, where a property's foundation gradually moves downwards past the original construction layer, can be caused by a number of different things, such as flooding, insufficient drainage or the presence of highly-absorbent soil underneath a house. It can be very expensive to fix and as such, it's generally best to avoid investing in properties with this type of issue, unless you are willing to devote a considerable amount of time and money to repairing the damage. Some signs of foundation failure include horizontal or vertical hairline cracks around walls and bay windows, patches of crumbling concrete and floors that are sagging or sloping.


Asbestos is a toxic, naturally-occurring substance which was, up until about 30 years ago, used for fireproofing and insulation purposes in residential properties. Because it has been shown to cause serious health issues, it is no longer utilised for construction projects. However it can still be found in many older homes, which is why, if you're interested in a house that is more than three decades old, you should inquire about whether it is known to have been built with this material.

If you have been told, or have reason to suspect that a property you wish to buy does contain asbestos, don't dismay; unlike the above-mentioned foundation failure, this is an issue which is relatively straightforward to resolve. Get in touch with a qualified professional who specialises in asbestos removal; they will be able to collect a sample, have it tested at a laboratory, and if the results come back positive, will draw up a plan to safely remove this material from the property.


Many older homes have serious damp problems. The damage that this can cause to the timber, masonry and plaster can be time-consuming and complicated to fix, which is why it is worth learning how to recognise the signs of dampness before you start house-hunting.

Most people assume that if the walls of a property are free from black spots and condensation, they can safely assume that it doesn't have a damp problem. However this is not necessarily the case; it's surprisingly common for those trying to sell their home to paint over patches of mould and use de-humidifiers to disguise the most obvious signs of dampness. Look out for other indications of damp, such as discoloured plaster, a musty odour in the air, blisters on painted walls and decaying wood.