Nine things to pay attention to when choosing an apartment

A perfect apartment does not exist – there are always minor or major flaws. Despite that, it is better to find out about them before buying or renting your future apartment. Nerijus Šarauskas, Country Manager for Lithuania of Civinity Group, gives 9 tips that will help you avoid any inconveniences in the future.

According to Civinity’s representative, if the apartment you are interested in is an old building, the most important thing is to assess the condition of its utility infrastructure.

1. Check the tap water pressure. In old buildings, water pressure may be reduced due to outdated pipelines or too narrow main water pipes. Weak water flow can cause inconveniences. If the pipelines are outdated, you should ask the residents if they have considered replacing them. It is also worth looking into how water consumption is measured and if the apartment has its own metering devices.

2. Note if the radiators heat up evenly. If you are looking for an apartment in winter, it is recommended to check the heating of radiators. If the radiators are without thermostats but heat up unevenly, it may signify issues with the heating system, such as incorrectly replaced radiators or additional heating devices connected to them.

‘If you are planning on buying or renting an apartment in an older building, it is a good idea to ask the existing owners to provide bills for the previous heating season to see how much energy was used to heat the apartment and compare them with the overall heat costs of the apartment house or even the average costs of the nearby houses. Big differences can reveal flaws in the heating system, resulting in higher utility bills for you,’ says Civinity’s representative.

3. Carefully inspect the walls of the apartment and the house. Cosmetic damage and wear and tear should not cause any major issues in the future but water spots and liquids seeping through the walls may be warning signs of damaged water, sewage or heating pipelines.Seemingly small water spots on the ceiling or the walls can be signs of significant utility infrastructure failures, which will be extremely costly to fix. If you notice such signs, you should consult with building maintenance specialists to better assess the situation.

4. Ask about the repair circumstances. If you notice recent repairs in the apartment, find out why they were made, what materials and solutions were used. Perhaps the suspended ceiling hides the real ceiling that is always wet, while the new wallpapers conceal cracks in the walls?

5. Evaluate the state of the common areas. The state of the stairway, basement or underground garage reveals the owners’ attitudes towards common property and their ability to solve common house problems.

‘If the common areas are disorderly and worn out, it is likely that in case of more serious problems, the house community will be slow to solve them. Meanwhile, carefully maintained spaces create the expectation that when faced with bigger challenges, the residents will seek to solve them together,’ says Šarauskas.

According to Civinity’s representative, newly built houses are usually free of the flaws that are inherent in old buildings but this does not automatically mean that no failures or problems will arise in the future. There are a few things you should watch out for when choosing an apartment in a newly built house:

1. Pay attention to the terraces and balconies of the building and the apartment. The most common issue here is poor waterproofing, which can cause damage to both you and your neighbours. If you have any suspicions, ask the owners what they think, whether they are going to contact a construction company or the house administrator, make repairs and fix it.

2. Check if the ventilation system is working properly. Ventilation system failures are another common defect in new buildings. The structures could be fightly built but ventilation may be improperly designed. Insufficient ventilation in the house can not only affect the overall comfort level but also lead to unwanted consequences in the long run, such as damp windows or mould forming on the walls.‘A properly installed ventilation system allows the house to “breathe well” and helps maintain the quality of the building structures over time. The most noticeable sign of bad air circulation is mould, which cannot be completely removed if the ventilation system does not function properly,’ explains Civinity’s Country Manager for Lithuania.According to Šarauskas, you should even check if the cooker hood is connected to the smoke removal outlet, as there are cases when the unit is connected to the ventilation hatch of the premises. 

3. Check how long it takes for hot water to reach the apartment. If it takes a long time for the water to turn hot, it is possible that incorrect circulating pumps are used in the building. The hot water circulation system may be poorly designed and if this is the case, such structural deficiency cannot be fixed so you will have to adjust to living in such apartment. Remember that in such case, even if cold water is coming out of the tap initially, you will still pay for it as for hot.

4. Inspect the basement. This will allow you to further assess the construction quality and the condition of the building. If you notice cracks in the foundations, it may be a sign that the foundations are uneven or that the primer is not properly prepared. In the future, the cracks in the foundations can travel up into the walls of the building and the foundations may need to be reinforced.

Civinity company group owns the following Lithuania-based housing administration companies: Senamiesčio Ūkis, Ozo Miestas, Būsto Valda, Debreceno Valda, Vitės Valdos, Klaipėdos Bendrabutis, Palangos Butų Ūkis, Kretingos Būstas, as well as the following Latvia-based housing and commercial property administration companies: AS Hausmaster, SIA CS Komercserviss, SIA Home Master, SIA Labo Namu Agentūra, SIA Jūrmalas Naimsaimnieks and others.