Common Problems When Buying A Bulgarian Property
Finding the right location must be top of your list, but once you have decided on the area that best suits your needs it's time to start viewing property and this is where you need to be extra vigilant. Houses in Bulgaria come in all shapes and sizes as well as build quality and what at first sight may appear to be your dream home may turn out to be your cash cow, riddled with hidden problems you never knew existed. Below Quest Bulgaria lists the some of the most common problems found in houses to help you in your Bulgarian property search.
It is significant that so many of our listed problems relate directly to the damaging effects of water. Protecting a property from water is paramount and any home which has not received this attention could end up costing you far more than you bargained for in the long run. Poor drainage is by far the most recurrent problem in Bulgaria even within new builds. It can lead to damp and condensation, which destroy both the interior and exterior fabric of your home. Giveaway signs include dull patches and mould - if you spot these, get an independent surveyor or builder to give you a quote. (See our article on Damp Issues in our homes and gardens section).
Inferior Electrical Wiring
Many old Bulgarian houses have not had their electricity rewired since they were first constructed. Indeed there are many cases of old cables being wrapped in wads of newspaper from a bygone era. In other cases there is not enough power going into the house and even if you were to arrange this the existing wiring would not be adequate to cope. Even new builds may suffer from shoddy work and you need to ask what means are in place to protect you from power surges etc. Check the state of the sockets, any visible cables and lighting switches - if they look bodged or ancient then add the cost of a rewire to your budget.
New builds are unlikely to suffer from leaks, but be sure that any older house will be affected by damaged tiles or ancient flashing if the owners have not gone to the extent of re-roofing their home in the last ten years. Reroofing is an expensive job, which should be done by professionals to avoid future problems and if the roof is an unusual shape and needs repair, be prepared for high costs.
Not all Bulgarian homes come with an inbuilt heating system; older homes tend to rely on wood burning stoves, whilst new builds are fitted with inverter air conditioning units and sometimes central heating. In the case of old houses with wood burners, you need to check where vents to find out where the outlet pipe is and to ensure that everything is intact. With new builds switch on all of the heating appliances to make sure that there are no defective units or broken operation controls.
Poor Overall Maintenance
Even to the untrained eye signs of overall poor maintenance are easy to spot; things like cracks across walls and ceilings, flaky paintwork, deteriorating brickwork, exposed cables and water stains, but if you instantly fall in love with a property because you are dreaming of what it could look like then you may turn a blind eye to these issues. Don't be blinded by what is staring you in the face. If the property shows signs of disrepair then get a survey.
Structurally Related Problems
Problems in some of the above mentioned areas often result in damage to the basic structure of a house. Other issues affecting the structure can be subsidence and damage from earthquakes. Whilst this may be surprising to learn, Bulgaria does occasionally experience mild earthquakes with the last one taking place in November in Sofia. This may cause cracks to appear across the masonry and can sometimes affect the foundations.
Plumbing defects still rank high among the problems encountered in Bulgarian homes. Often these include the existence of old or incompatible piping and old worn out fittings. If the house smells foul, then there is likely to be a problem with either the sewerage or plumbing. Whilst it may not occur to you to turn on taps or flush toilets on your viewing trip, it is wise to do so as this may reveal problems you may not have noticed until you move in. Read our article on Wet Rooms in our Homes Section to uncover one common problem with plumbing in Bulgarian property.
Take your time wandering around the exterior of the property and look for cracks in the walls and defects around the windows and doors. Such damage can lead problems associated with penetrating air and water.
Many Bulgarian homes both old and new lack adequate ventilation, which results in excessive interior moisture and eventually rot and other damage. Don't forget to make a note of the number of ventilation outlets on your viewing trip.
This is the catch-all category, which really focuses on things inside the house like the state of the paintwork, the kitchen and bathrooms. These may not cost too much to renovate, but you do need to factor them in to your overall budget.
Obviously the age of a property plays a significant role in these findings. In older Bulgarian houses, problems such as heating system failure, inadequate electrical service, and worn plumbing can be found with much greater frequency, but you should not ignore them if you are looking at a completely new build. The laws governing new builds here are not as strict or controlled as they are in the West and with the increased rate of construction over the last few years many builders are constrained by time and pushed to move onto the next job that many of the above points can be overlooked. When you have found a property you are interested in buying, then it is always wise to engage a surveyor especially if you have found many of the above problems. This way you will get a true reflection of what you are actually buying and how much extra cash you will need to put it right.