This article is written in collaboration with Rentokil. All views expressed are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
When it comes to purchasing a property, it goes without saying that everyone would want a house which is kept in tiptop condition. With all things being equal, you will be willing to pay more for a home which is kept in great condition, rather than one which looks badly maintained.
Sellers looking to charge a premium over the valuation of their home would find all ways to impress their potential buyers, with some even home staging in order to get the best possible price for their home.
However, we need to keep in mind that unless we purchase a Build-To-Order flat or a brand new condominium, the home that we are looking at is likely to have been around for a few years (or even decades). There is bound to be wear and tear, even if the cleanest and gentlest of owners reside in it.
Avoid Bearing Future Expenses
Buying a house in Singapore does not come cheap. The last thing we want is to incur tens of thousands of dollars, on top of the amount we already paid for the house, to fix a problem that could have been spotted beforehand.
Knowing what to look out for when hunting for the right property can not only save you from incurring extra costs, but can also be used as a leverage to give you more room for negotiation with the owner over the price of the property.
Here are 5 areas Singaporeans should look out for when buying a house, whether you are looking to purchase a HDB, condominium or landed property.
Look out for cracks and chips for floors installed with tiles made of materials such as ceramic, porcelain, vinyl, granite or marble. Also check if there are any tiles that are dislodged, missing or of a different material or design. If you spot any, that’s a telltale sign that some damages have occurred previously.
Not only do cracked, dislodged or missing tiles not look aesthetically pleasing, they could also pose a safety concern. Cracked tiles could have sharp, protruding edges, potentially causing cuts and other injuries.
For parquet or any other type of wood, look out for scratches, stains, discolouration, dampness or rotting wood. Damp, rotting wood attracts termites, increasing the risk of a termite infestation in your house. Also look out for any uneven flooring, bumps or gaps in the flooring.
Why it will cost you: Changing the flooring often requires you to replace an extended area of tiles rather than just the affected tiles. You are not just paying for the cost of new tiles, but also for the contractor to hack and dispose of the existing ones. While ceramic, laminate and vinyl tiles are less expensive, you will incur higher costs if you opt for parquet, granite and marble flooring.
#2 Cracked Walls
Take a closer look at the walls and ceiling in the house. Does it have any cracks? Hairline cracks are common, resulting from the expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature.
However, large, long cracks are a problem if they affect the structural integrity of the building. One way to check is to have an inspection done to determine if the cracks are a structural defect. For HDB flats, after the 1-year Defects Liability Period (DLP), flat owners are responsible for the inspection and maintenance of the interior of the flat, which includes cracks on the internal walls.
You should also get a better idea about which walls can be hacked away (if you choose to do so during renovation), ask the owner if there are walls which are false partition and which walls are structural walls that cannot be hacked.
Why it will cost you: For smaller, hairline cracks, you could fix it yourself with joint compound and cover it with a layer of paint. However, for larger cracks, you would need to fork out cash to pay a professional for repairs, plastering and painting.
#3 Pipe Leaks
Check the water pressure of the shower and the taps in the toilet and kitchen. Low water pressure not only affects your daily use, but also indicates other problems such as a leaking pipe. Don’t forget to check the area under the sink for pipe leaks.
Have a feel of the wall as you walk around the house. Does the wall feel damp in some areas? Look up for stains on the ceilings, especially in areas such as the toilet. If there are wet spots along the wall, or stains on the ceiling, this could indicate a concealed pipe leak.
Why it will cost you: Concealed pipe leaks could cause your utility bill to be much higher than usual. You would also need to hire a contractor to repair the pipe leak, unless you have the plumbing expertise to fix it yourself.
Pipe leaks can also cause other problems such as furniture damage, mould and rotting of wood. This moisture can also attract pests such as cockroaches, termites and even rodents. If left alone, this stagnant water could provide mosquitoes with a place to lay their eggs. Ensuring that the house has no plumbing issues would prevent potential pest infestations.
#4 Air Conditioning
In a country like Singapore where the heat can often be sweltering, air conditioners are a must-have. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), air conditioners make up 24% of the consumption of a typical home.
Turn on the air conditioning in the house to check for leaks and to feel if the air conditioner is working well to cool the air in the unit. Check on the air-conditioner’s Energy Efficiency Rating (EER), which measures how efficiently it uses electricity. The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner.
Your air conditioner will naturally collect dust and dirt in the filter when it is in use. Check with the owner when the air conditioner was installed and how frequently it was serviced. Regular servicing and maintenance of your air conditioner helps to ensure optimal performance and also to prevent bigger issues that would be expensive to fix.
Why it will cost you: Having an air conditioner that is energy efficient can help you save money on your electricity bills in the long run. A well-functioning air conditioner also means that there would be no need to replace it in the near future. A malfunctioning or faulty air conditioner could be costly to replace.
#5 Home Structure & Design
Take a look at the structures fitted in the house, such as feature walls, a platform bed and the kitchen island. If you like the design that the previous owner built, it would be ideal because this means you do not have to pay them extra to hack it away.
However, not all homeowners have the same preferences. Perhaps you prefer a bed with a bed frame for better comfort, or you might think that the kitchen island takes up too much space. You should also consider the material of the structure built. Structures made of wood in Singapore’s hot and humid weather are also more prone to mould, musty odours, insects and decay.
Besides considering whether you like the design of the inbuilt home structures, take a closer look at the condition of these structures. How is the condition of the carpentry in the house? Are there any odours, discolouration and rotting of the cabinets?
Why it will cost you: If these home structures are in poor condition, you will need to spend money to either repair these structures or to hack them away. Getting a contractor to build your own built-in structures does not come cheap as these structures have to be specially tailored to the size and layout of your home. Look out as well for odd-shaped layouts in the home that would require you to customise built-in cabinets.
#6 Evidence Of Pests
We all want to stay in a house that is clean and devoid of pests. However, Singapore is hot and humid, making it the perfect breeding ground for pests such as cockroaches, mosquitos, termites and other pests, none of which you would want infesting your home.
Signs that there are pests in the house include insect wings, pest droppings, empty egg cases lying around the house. If you see sawdust of a pile of powdery wood near your wooden furniture or wooden cabinet, this could be a sign of termite infestation.
A newer home does not mean that there will be fewer pests. Neither does staying in the higher floors of a block spare you from pests. Pests can still enter your home if they have wings or through other means such as the rubbish chute. You also have little control over your neighbours living habits and a pest issue in your neighbours’ home could easily spill over to your home.
Why it will cost you: Pests are a carrier of diseases. They are also hosts for parasites such as ticks, fleas, lice and mites. The presence of these pests in your home could also result in health problems, especially if there are young children and elderly in the house. Termites feeding on your wooden furniture can lead to costly repairs and other damages.
Enjoying A Healthy Home – How To Eradicate Pests
While it is possible to implement quick-fix solutions such as using insect spray, poison and traps, you want to make sure that you get to the root of the problem in order to get rid of these pests in your home, especially when it is an infestation.
Professional help is readily available to help you deal with these pests. Pest control providers such as Rentokil have trained surveyors that can help you conduct a site survey to uncover any pest issues and provide you with information on the infestation level and type of premise. Rentokil also provides professional advice on good housekeeping practices to prevent pest infestation as well as useful pest control tips.
Common pests that Rentokil can help you eradicate include bed bugs, cockroaches, termites, rodents, ants, and mosquitoes. Rentokil has over 300 Service Technicians in Singapore. Their team of specialists undergo regular, comprehensive training programs and are kept well informed with the latest pest control treatments, enabling them to deploy the correct pest control methods.
Rentokil’s specialists also understand pest behaviours, allowing them to identify pest vulnerabilities and provide customers with proactive recommendations to minimise the risk of pest infestation.
Some of these areas listed above require periodic checks even if they are currently in good condition. Similarly, Rentokil offers routine pest control treatment for your home for those looking to ensure the long-term health of your property.
While these cost areas are significantly smaller than the amount you will be paying for the property itself, a savvy buyer would strive the get the best deal possible by looking for a flat that does not have many of these problems.