Purchasing a property is a big investment, so it is important to know exactly what you are getting for your money. You might think that you have found a bargain, but if your new home is in a dire state of repair then any savings you might have made in the purchase price will be yanked right out of your wallet by mounting maintenance costs.
This is especially important when it comes to utilities like plumbing, electrics and, of course, gas. Making sure that the property you are buying has an efficient and well-maintained boiler should be a top priority, even before you make an offer on the building itself. If extensive repairs are necessary, you should expect the current owner to cover them as a prerequisite for your purchase, or to lower their asking price to reflect the cost of the work.
While sellers are legally obliged to inform you of issues, at least to an extent, there will always be chancers who will try to get around the rules and leave you high and dry. As soon as you start considering a property, be sure to ask for proof that the current owner has booked a boiler servicing in the last 12 months with a local heating engineer on the Gas Safe Register. They should also be able to produce a valid Energy Performance Certificate. If they cannot provide this proof, you will have grounds to demand that they have the property properly surveyed and serviced before you make your purchase.
We will start by saying that a homebuyer does not really have any business physically checking a boiler on their own. This is simply because working with gas utilities and appliances can be highly dangerous; only those listed on the Gas Safe Register are legally allowed to do so. Luckily, a registered plumber or heating engineer should be able to produce a Gas Safe ID to prove this, so be sure to ask!
Another thing to point out at this stage is the RICS surveys and homebuyer reports rarely highlight issues with a property’s utilities. They usually focus on structural and surface-level issues, rather than looking at every aspect of a property in depth. That said, a surveyor should usually be happy to arrange for a qualified inspector to assess a property’s utilities as part of their own survey.
However, you will not necessarily need a new survey or inspection to check the health of a boiler. The current owner should be able to produce an installation certificate for the unit, as well as operating instructions for day to day use. At the very least they should be able to tell you the type of boiler you are dealing with and when it was installed.
More importantly, the owner should be able to show you a valid ‘Gas Safety Record’. This is a document that is provided by a Pro after a gas appliance is serviced. As it is recommended that all gas appliances are serviced at least once a year, the owner should have no trouble in producing this documentation. If not, you can ask that all gas appliances and fixtures in the property, including the boiler, are serviced as a condition of your purchase and replaced if necessary. If the owner is unwilling, you may be able to argue for a lower quote for the property in exchange for paying for the work yourself.
Another important document to collect will be the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). As the name suggests, this looks at the energy efficiency of a property, from its heat retention to its appliances. If the inspector highlighted the boiler as a potential issue, this is where you will find their recommendations. An EPC is required by law whenever a property is sold, rented or built, so the current owner will not have a valid excuse for not having one.
An important thing to keep in mind is that any documentation signed off by a CORGI registered engineer will not be valid. The Gas Safe Register took over from CORGI in 2009, so any CORGI-approved checks will not only be obsolete, they will also be extremely out of date!