What to look for when buying your new home

Dermot Bannon shares his top tips for first-time buyers


1. Know your location. Take a trip to your local authority office and check the development control plan to know what the future plans are for the area. There is no point in buying that dream house only to be overshadowed in a couple of years by an office development!

2. Walk the area and know your amenities, shops, restaurants, schools … etc. Your life circumstances may change, so the location and the house will need to be flexible to your needs.

3. Try to buy a house with a good aspect. We love our private back gardens so a sunny south-facing rear garden would be the number one choice. For living and extending opportunities, an evening garden facing west would be next on the wish list.

4. Try to buy a house that has room to expand in the future, preferably to the side if not to the rear, and ensure the garden is large enough to handle this.

5. Try to buy a house where you can convert the attic. This means looking for a house with a traditional cut roof and not a prefabricated one. Ensure that you will be able to put in a ceiling at 2.4m or 8’ for at least half of the floor space.

6. Check if the building is a protected structure. If it is, and you want to change it around a lot, this may not be the house for you. A protected structure is a labour of love - know what you are getting into.

7. With fuel and energy costs only going in one direction (up!), check the BER rating. If it is low, ensure you hold back enough of your budget to upgrade insulation, windows and fit a new boiler. Check out seai.ie for grants available.

8. Make a wish or a brief of what you are looking for, and then try to allocate rooms or spaces in the house to them. Follow the light; morning rooms to the east, day rooms to the south and evening rooms to the west. Try to see the house as a blank canvas, as opposed to the traditional layout.

9. In older properties, look for a house with as many original features as possible, such as original fire places and timber work still intact. Even with a very minimalist, contemporary renovation the older features work really well, giving great character and a trace of history.

10. Employ a professional to look at the structure to ensure there are no major defects. Most things can be fixed but at what cost? Check that the house complies with building regulations and also check for asbestos or dry rot.