Tips for viewing a property in winter

Winter time in a warm central heated room

They say viewing a property in summer is the best time to see it in its best light but viewing a property in winter means you get to see how it really works and how it handles the harshest weather – especially in Scotland.

Rain, wind, snow, and ice will all test the ability of a property to protect itself from the elements and keep its occupants warm and cosy inside. Conversely, potential problems are more liable to appear and be more easily recognised.

If you’re on the hunt for a new home at the moment, here are just a few things to help you pinpoint what to look for when buying or renting in winter.

Doors and windows

We all love a warm home; unfortunately, the warmth can have other ideas. In fact, it will take every opportunity to escape through doors and windows.

During your viewing, make sure you check whether the doors – both exterior and interior – close properly and are draught-proof. Check for any signs of condensation too. This can be quite common in many homes but if it looks worrying then best to flag to the agent at the time of viewing.

Unless there is a conservation restriction and depending on the age of the home, the windows should be double glazed and the frames solid and free of any draughts.

If there are any issues and you are considering buying the home, factor in the cost of replacing doors and windows into your offer. If renting, ask the letting agent if the owner would consider upgrading.

Check for dampness

In the winter months damp stains, discolouration, and peeling wallpaper can come to the fore so have eagle eyes for the tell-tale signs. If the property is for sale, then any major damp issues should be flagged on the home report. It’s a good idea to get a copy of this before your viewing so you can easily spot the issues that have been reported. Use your nose, too. Are there musty smells in corners or from the carpets?

If you have any doubts, it’s not the end of the world. Even the best property can suffer from damp simply due to poor ventilation, faulty plumbing, or a single blocked gutter.

However, to avoid expensive surprises down the line, if you know about issues in advance, you could arrange for a damp specialist to come out and visit the property to give an accurate quote. This would need to be approved by the current owners first. If it’s a rental property and there are damp issues, this is the responsibility of the property owner, and they should tackle these problems to ensure the property is fit for rental.

The heating system

Unless you’re hankering after a life in a yurt next to a wood burner, the main fuels for your central heating system are likely to be electricity and perhaps gas. In some rural areas, oil or liquid petroleum gas will take the place of mains gas. More modern, more attractive, and more eco-friendly systems use technology such as heat exchangers or biomass boilers.

As well as ensuring the heating system is in full working order, ask your estate agent if they can advise of the current utility bills, or even better, if the current owner is conducting the viewing, ask them about heating costs. Again, for properties that are for sale, the home report will cover how energy-efficient the home is.

The boiler

Traditionally responsible for about 60% of your energy bills, today’s boilers are much more efficient than those installed just 10 years ago.

Replacing a boiler can be costly though, so to ensure the heart of your heating system is future-proofed, find out its make and model, age, and service history (it should have been checked every year, especially to monitor CO2 emissions).

If you’re viewing a rental property, it’s the owner’s responsibility when it comes to issues with the boiler and to ensure this is in working order and is serviced regularly.

The radiators

Your estate agent can ask the vendor to switch the heating on in advance of your viewing. This means you’ll not only be able to check how warm the house feels on a winter’s day, but all the radiators are working properly.

If the radiators look older, check for signs of leakage or rust, as this could be a sign that they may need replacing.

If they have thermostatic valves, you’re on to a winner as these mean you can adjust the temperature in each room – a much more efficient way to heat your home and keep costs down. The home may also have a smart meter like Hive, where you can manage the heating controls from your mobile device and means that your heating is much more efficient.


Time for a new move? Discover a winter wonderland of new properties to buy or rent with s1homes.

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