Did you buy a detached house? Avoid these common pitfalls

Articles on housing, plumbing repairs, energy, renovation and single-family homes, produced by Hausoturva.

Did you buy a detached house? Avoid these common pitfalls

Articles on housing, plumbing repairs, energy, renovation and single-family homes, produced by Hausoturva.

Have you recently bought a detached house? Congratulations! A detached house is a dream for many Finns, as we long for stability and security in our hectic everyday lives. Although there is a peace of mind that comes with owning your own home, it’s worth putting in a little effort after you’ve bought your house to keep it in the best possible condition for a long time to come. In this article, we have compiled a list of things that every buyer of a detached house should go through and put in order.

Go through insurance policies, receipts and other documents

When buying, you will have looked at the documents you received – especially the title deeds, the encumbrance certificate, the land registry report and the condition survey report. If the house you are buying is old and has had several owners, you will have accumulated documents and receipts for the work done. However, some useful papers may have been lost along the way. You may also have a maintenance book, where you can find basic information about the property and various operating instructions. If your house was built in 2000 or later, the law has required a maintenance booklet to be drawn up.

Also take out your home insurance policies and check their limitation conditions. Find out exactly which water damage is covered by your home insurance. The insurance company may have offered you a limited or comprehensive policy. Please note that even a broad insurance policy does not guarantee that water damage will be covered. Home insurance policies contain limitation clauses, which mean that the damage will only be covered if the conditions are met. For example, water damage caused by leaks in plumbing or fittings is excluded under the limited cover.

You should also go through the renovations you have made to the house and their guarantees. You should find out who is responsible for the warranty, what the warranty period is and what the contents of the warranty are. Note that there are often many different warranties for the same job; for example, there are usually separate warranty periods and conditions for labour and materials. If you can’t find the information in the documents, find out from the companies that did the work and make a note of it for future reference. If problems arise in the future, it is quick and easy to check the updated information in the documents. You should also scan all your documents and put them in the cloud. This makes them easier to keep and easy to attach to an email if you need to share them with someone. This may seem like a lot of effort, but it will certainly pay off.

The division of responsibilities between the buyer and seller of a house is not always clear-cut

Under the Housing Act, the seller is obliged to give the buyer all the information he knows about the property he is selling. The maximum period of liability for the seller of a house is set at five years. If the seller has failed to disclose the defects in the dwelling of which he is aware, he is guilty of a disclosure error and, in the worst case, the offence of criminal fraud is committed. Housing disputes are one of the most common types of litigation.

As a buyer, you can ask the seller for a price reduction or even to cancel the transaction if there is something essential to be repaired and the defect is secret, i.e. the seller was not aware of it. Please note, however, that you cannot have the seller pay for renovations and maintenance required by the age of the house.

If you discover a defect – such as damp damage or an indoor air problem – you must notify the seller within a reasonable time of discovering the defect and make a claim, otherwise you cannot claim the defect under the Housing Act. A reasonable time is considered in case law to be 3-4 months from the date of discovery of the defect. Contrary to common misconception, you do not have time to report a defect until the end of the seller’s five-year liability period. If you do not complain and clarify the extent of the defect and the amount of damage in time, the seller may be released from liability for the defect.

Fitness checks often inadequate

Old detached houses are often subject to a pre-purchase inspection. Keep in mind that a fitness check never removes the liability of the parties. If the house you are buying has been inspected, the inspector will be liable for his work in accordance with the service provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. The liability of the surveyor and the applicable law depend, among other things, on the extent of the damage, the negligence of the surveyor and whether there was a causal link between the damage and the surveyor’s work. The surveyor is not responsible for defects in the property, as these are the responsibility of the seller.

Every house buyer should be aware of the fact that condition inspections are often incomplete. The inspection usually takes a cursory look at the premises, although many hazards are hidden inside structures and pipework. A health check may not reveal these latent problems in the building, such as moisture damage caused by plumbing. It is also not normal practice to inspect the condition of the sewer, although a sewer camera could be used to check the condition of the sewer pipe. As sewer pipes run mainly inside structures and underground, their actual condition cannot be reliably assessed from the outside. This may mean that even a serious risk of water damage may be overlooked. If you are not sure about the condition of your sewer system, you can order a free sewer survey for your private house.

You can also order a condition survey of your domestic water piping and heating network .

Prevent water damage by doing your plumbing repairs in time

If the private house you are buying still has original plumbing, it is very important to assess its actual condition and schedule any repairs. Note that the condition of the pipelines cannot always be seen from above, as most of the pipelines are hidden inside the structures and underground. Often the pipe is in worse condition on the inside than the outside might suggest.

If you know that the sewer pipe is old cast iron or concrete, you should not postpone your plans far into the future, as the risk of failure is too high. In the event of water damage, structures may have to be demolished and replaced, and insurance may not cover water damage. You can assess the risk of water damage to your house with our test. If you are not yet ready to renovate your sewer, you should draw up a maintenance plan. Regular maintenance prevents typical problems with sewer pipes, while revealing hidden dangers before actual damage can occur.

It is also possible to check the condition of the heating network and domestic hot water pipes through the building security system. After the inspection, you can sleep better at night, as you will have up-to-date information on your plumbing after the visit. If you know your plumbing is in bad shape, it’s not worth playing roulette and asking for a quote for plumbing repairs.

Watch and take care of these things too

Even a valuable detached house will deteriorate and lose its value if it is not looked after. To ensure that the house you buy is comfortable and stays in good condition for as long as possible, in addition to a condition survey of the plumbing, it is worth checking and inspecting the following items at regular intervals.

  • Inspect the house regularly, inside and out. Outside, pay attention to the plinth and water drainage, the water roof and the chimney. Inside for odours, ventilation, plumbing and damp areas
  • Follow the service manual that comes with the house, if you have one. There you will find the essential information, instructions and objectives for the maintenance and upkeep of your property in a documented form.
  • Compare your water and energy consumption on a monthly basis. Tip: you can detect a water leak by watching the movement of the water meter when no tap or machine is using water. If the water meter still moves, water is leaking somewhere
  • Find out how often you need to replace the seals on your windows and replace them if necessary
  • Order a fumigation once a year
  • Check the insurance cover for your property
  • Make a maintenance plan for the future

If there is a defect in your house, complain to the seller as soon as possible and make a written claim before it is corrected. Remember that the seller must have the opportunity to come and verify the mistake. If possible, take pictures of the error from different directions and distances. This way, you’ll have your own back in case of a dispute.

Articles published by Hausoturva

Taloturva publishes useful information on housing, living and especially on single-family housing.

Taloturva is the number one provider of plumbing repairs for detached houses in Finland, and we can have your house repaired in 3 days, and you don’t have to move out.

We also carry out free drainage surveys in private houses, because we want to prevent water damage in Finland. Do you know the condition of the plumbing in your house?

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