3 June 2019 - When looking to buy a property in Hong Kong, it’s easy to judge based on first impressions alone. Upon stepping into the potential property of your dreams, chances are you’ll be swept off your feet by the sense of excitement, either from the stunning décor or the freshness of an empty space, full of potential to create your unique home.
The effects of water-related problems can be far-reaching. Water leakage and seepage can lead to astronomical repair or maintenance costs which impact the value of your investment. Cracks, watermarks and discolouration on walls and/or ceilings imply water seepage. If water damage is severe enough it could threaten the structural integrity of the unit – an enormous liability and cost. Double checking those areas on a rainy day, when leaks might be more obvious, can provide extra insights into the unit’s condition.
Cracks on walls and ceilings may suggest water-related problems which could be structural (see above). In addition to the cost of potential erosion over time, if chunks and flakes of them fall off, residents can easily get hurt. Some cracks are visible to the naked eye, while the less noticeable ones (bulging areas under the paint) can usually be spotted by tapping the surfaces with a metal rod.
Opening and closing windows and doors a few times gives you an idea how well the hinges work, and whether the screws are in position. Areas that are often omitted are door locks (which tend to become too tight or too loose with time) and the gap between the door and the frame. A gap too big would hinder the door’s function in shutting out noise or allow warm air to enter the room when the air-conditioner is switched on. These are easily fixed with new hinges or a new door.
4. Building structure
Use a tape or laser measure to ensure the size of the unit is consistent with the description in the sales brochure. On the outside, check if the external walls are well-maintained, if rebars (steel reinforcement) are exposed, and whether the railings are coming loose. There’s no harm double checking building records to identify any illegal structures. These are common in Hong Kong properties and buyers often accept them – but should know about them before purchasing and be willing to accept the risk of a building order to remove any illegal structure in the future.
Electrical problems caused by loose outlets and/or malfunctioning appliances pose safety risks or potential rewiring costs. Spending a little time in examining all the appliances help troubleshoot common problems such as leaking washing machines, unresponsive switches, gas outages and leaks etc. These should be checked thoroughly before purchasing to know if they are easy repairs of the outlets or more serious problems with the internal wiring.
Conclusion: Don’t be alarmed, just be aware