Should You Buy A Fire Damaged House?


If you’ve ever come across a home with previous fire damage on the property market, it probably posed quite a dilemma. Sure, it comes with obvious risks, but could it turn out to be a wily investment?

We’re going to dive into the key factors to look out for, the pros and cons, and how the fire damage history affects borrowing.

Things to look out for when purchasing a fire damaged property

  1. Structural: This is probably the first one that would come to your mind and yes, ensuring the load bearing walls on a home have been giving the all-clear by a structural engineer is critical.
  2. Smoke: When it comes to smoke, there are stain and smell issues to contend with, but also a number of wider health implications which you’ll need to see to.
  3. Plumbing: Another factor to check is whether any of the copper or PVC piping has been left damaged in the wake of the fire.
  4. Asbestos: After a fire occurs, any home constructed before 1989 will need to undergo an asbestos inspection.
  5. Water: At first glance this one may seem a little odd but just think about it, what do they use to put out fire and are they really concerned about the additional damage when tackling the blaze? Sadly, the water can cause just as much damage as the fire it was trying to put out.

When it comes to water, you want to think about mold: this can grow anywhere where excess water has been, including under appliances and in roofs/basements, so ensure the property has been thorough checked; ducts: chemicals are added to the water firefighter’s use, meaning you’ll need to check they haven’t leaked into any ducts, which could cause serious air quality issues; warping of floors and frames: check all interior wood structures for any warping caused by water exposure.

The issues of buying a fire damaged house

As you can see from our list, there are a lot of different variables to consider when buying a fire damaged home, making it a complex decision. You’ll really need to, quite literally, scratch the surface to ensure any fire damage hasn’t been masked by new carpet or plasterboard. The most important thing you can do is get the home professionally inspected. This is the only way you’ll know if all potential issues have been resolved in line with regulations and are up to code.

The positives of purchasing a fire damaged property

On the flipside, a property that has been renovated following fire damage may cost you a lot less. Due to them often being undervalued, you could find yourself with a higher ROI (return on investment).

If the home you’re looking at has not yet been refurbished, you might be able to make the necessary repairs for less than estimated. Should the renovations required be extensive, this will give you a unique opportunity to redesign the layout of certain areas of the house.

Does the fire history influence borrowing

It does, depending on the severity of the damage. If the home is not deemed habitable, it poses a health risk to whoever is buying it and a financial risk to the lender.

A good workaround is bringing the property into a mortgageable state using short-term bridging or refurbishment finance, both of which we can help you with.

Article By Jamie Williams

September 12th, 2022

Jamie Williams is an integral part of our specialist finance team. He is an expert in bridging and development finance, as well as commercial and second charge mortgages.

With over 17 years experience in the mortgage and specialist finance world, Jamie uses his unrivalled knowledge to provide the ultimate client experience.

See more articles by Jamie