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Check Moisture Levels Before Buying A Property

identifying a leak

Before signing the property sale and purchase agreement, ensure you’re satisfied with its condition.

A property inspection will identify parts of the home that need maintenance and replacement which could spell disaster for your bank balance. For example, checking moisture levels in the home may seem like the last thing on your mind, particularly if you’re buying the property during the warm, dry months of the year.

However, if there’s a real issue with dampness and leaks even in the dry period, a moisture meter can detect it in the walls, windows, roof and floorboards. A thorough property inspection will include water readings.


Climate change makes some areas dryer while others get more rain and flash flooding. Older homes built before the extreme weather may not be up to the task of keeping the water out, so it’s more important to realise if the home you’re buying has an issue with letting water in.

Sighting mould is one way of realising a leak, but it is not always visible. Rising dampness can also go undetected until it becomes a much bigger maintenance requirement. Prevention is always preferred, so install an underfloor moisture barrier to prevent water from rising from the foundations and into the building’s structure. Where water is present, some remedies include installing tanks or sumps and adding waterproofing membranes on floors, walls and roofs.

Weather tightness

Weather patterns are changing due to rising Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Just how many major weather events will occur and where is not known, so when buying a home, always get an extensive report on its weather tightness. Is the property fit for purpose? Rising sea levels will result in many coastal and low-lying areas being underwater most of the year. Therefore one precaution is to avoid homes in these locations.

Older Properties

Carefully consider the maintenance requirements of older properties. While the character of a period home is attractive, the cost of upkeep may be prohibitive going forward. You’ll need to make a property inspection checklist to work out approximate costs per year for maintenance.


Double or triple-glazed windows and new window casements are ideal. Wooden window frames deteriorate quickly and are costly, whereas PVC or aluminium windows are less maintenance. Plus, the whole casement can be replaced when a window needs replacement.


Another area prone to high maintenance is the doors, particularly in older homes. Check that all entries are not leaking, and that water is not entering the doorframe wall or floor. All openings, i.e. windows and doors, are prone to water damage, so pay particular attention to them so they can be fixed for less than a complete replacement.


Floors are telltale signs of water retention. Use a water meter to check moisture levels. Wood can hold a lot of water. Ideally, you can budget to replace flooring and apply waterproof membranes beforehand. While you now realise the cost of getting your new home weathertight is rising, what’s a maintenance issue now is a complete replacement requirement is left, so it’s beyond repair.


All buildings deteriorate and, if ignored, break down over time. When the home is your own, ‘ignorance is not bliss’ as putting off dealing with a leak is likely to be costly to fix. Therefore always use a professional to give your prospective home the once over with a thorough building inspection. It’s also a likely requirement to secure a mortgage and building insurance. Think twice about where you’re buying your home; if it’s in a colder climate or receives very high rainfall, your home will work hard to remain warm and dry.