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Ten Tips for Home Buyers - What to look and ask for when buying a new home.
January 9th, 2014
Design isn't just about the way something looks, but about the way something works. Good design can be applied to everything, from streets to kitchens. It needn 't cost any more. All it takes is a little extra thought.

Buyers usually know what they want. They know whether their new home should be in the town or country, how many bedrooms, and whether it must have a garage or garden. But do we ask about less obvious but equally important factors?

1.Buying Off-Plan - it can save you money and give you choice but ensure you see plans and drawings showing room heights and roof spaces that don't appear on floorplans. Check that every room can contain your furniture, look at sample fixtures and fittings, and ask whether plumbing, electrical and heating installations are easy to get at.

2.Density - More residents mean more facilities. A Post Office and a pub require about 7,000 people living in the area to remain viable, while a school obviously requires families with children. Most vibrant communities contain over 40 homes per hectare; ask developers or estate agents about density in your chosen area.

3.Build quality - a home may look good but will it be easy to maintain? Ask what materials have been used, whether they are renewable and how long they last, check on acoustic surveys indicating potential noise from your neighbours, and test the home yourself for sound travelling between rooms.

4.Inside - homes look fabulous when new but check the details. Councils are rationalising refuse collection so is there room for recycling? What about space for new appliances? Will walls support shelves if you have big storage needs? Can the loft be converted? Is there natural light all day or just in the morning?

5.Energy and light - This is more than just wanting south-facing windows, even though they reduce energy bills by providing heat. But if rooms contain a lot of glass are there trees, balconies or shade to prevent over-heating?

6.Security - Locks and alarms are just part of the story. Security is enhanced by windows overlooking public areas, brightly lit communal areas inside and out, and well-maintained fire escape routes. And ensure those locks and alarms conform to police-approved 'Secured By Design' principles on

7.Outside - a garden or entrance needs a clear boundary between your home and public areas. Is there space for rubbish bins and when are they collected? Are meters stuck in an ugly box outside? Would communal areas be respected by your neighbours? Is there somewhere to put your bikes?

8.Car parking - this must be carefully integrated and not dominating the street, allowing you space to wash or repair a vehicle. If you have a garage check it is wide enough for your car; if it is communal or underground, ask how it is patrolled and made secure. Think about visitors, too.

9.The surrounding area - see the home at different times of day to check on traffic, the provision of good street lighting, and whether you would let your child walk on nearby streets. Is the area empty and soulless during working hours or is there a mix of residents? Check out for local information.

10.The future - People change. In the future you may want to give up the car, work from home, or have children. Can the rooms be modified for your new lifestyle? Will your neighbourhood contain the shops, transport, parks and facilities you will need 10 years from now?


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