Homebuyers find hidden faults

£780m unexpected repair bill for new homeowners

22 April 2011

One in four people (25%) deliberately covered up faults the last time they sold a home according to new research for the AA's Home Emergency Response service.

Findings reveal that in the past twelve months alone, people buying a house or flat have collectively spent £780 million repairing damage within the first year of ownership, an average of £1,076 each.

Cover up

  • Around 6.4 million people who have sold or tried to sell a home admit to having disguised damage to the property, according to the AA's figures.
  • Around 3.3 million people admit to covering up cracks with filler, equivalent to 13% of those who have sold or tried to sell a home.
  • Nearly half a million people have covered up cracks with wallpaper.
  • Some 1.9 million people (7%) have covered up a damp patch by repainting, re-plastering or replacing wallpaper.
  • Almost 600,000 (2%) have made minimal effort in disguising the problem, simply covering up a damp patch by hanging a picture over it or moving furniture in front of it.
  • Another 1.4 million (6%) have put down a rug to cover up marks or damage on the floor, and the same number have moved furniture to hide damage to walls or floors.
  • Around 2% of those selling a home (around 460,000 people) have adjusted the central heating to stop noises coming from the system, and the same percentage, around 420,000 people, have temporarily stopped dripping water by using tape or gum.

Other acts of deliberate damage disguise include hiding evidence of mice or other pests by sweeping up their droppings, and even using oil to stop the noise of a squeaky floorboard.


With the Easter and May Day bank holiday weekends a key time for prospective home buyers to start viewing properties, AA Home Emergency Response has produced a checklist as a reminder of some of the 'hidden' issues to look out for when looking at a new home.


We often make decisions about a new home with our heart rather than our head, so it is vital that people looking to purchase a home make sure they know what to look for or ask about when they are viewing a property, from whether the boiler is regularly serviced to missing or cracked slates or tiles.

Tom Stringer, Head of AA Home Emergency Response, said: "A lot of potentially serious problems with properties can be covered up relatively easily, but can prove very costly to repair.

"Often people can move into a new home and find themselves in an unexpected and expensive mess when an undetected problem rears its ugly head. People might mistakenly think their standard home insurance covers them for emergencies, but things do go wrong with alarming regularity so it's worth checking your home insurance policy carefully and if you are not covered, consider looking at stand-alone home emergency policies to provide you with complete peace of mind."


Those selling a home in London are most likely to have covered up damage, with 19% admitting to having disguised at least one fault before showing their property to potential buyers. Home buyers in London have unsurprisingly also spent the most on average on repairing faults within the first year of ownership. They have typically spent £1,364 compared to only £738 for those in the East Midlands.


Research carried out by ICM amongst a GB representative sample of 2003 adults between 13th and 15th April 2011.

Land Registry data states that 649,957 properties were sold in England & Wales in 2010, and Registers of Scotland data states that 74,538 properties were sold in Scotland in 2010, a total of 724,495 properties.