Foreigners may have certain disadvantages over Poles when looking to buy properties in Poland simply because they are not familiar with the severe winter weather conditions. The roads may not get blocked for long but the weather wrecks havoc with power lines, especially in rural areas and more importantly with water around the house.
Frozen pipes are a very common problem and one would expect Poles to build accordingly. Houses are well insulated but that north facing wall can still cause massive problems.
We encountered all sorts of problems when viewing properties in the winter. Empty houses had all the water drained out, including the toilet bowls ro prevent that freezing with an unwelcome stench from the sewage system. Restaurants had toilets out of action because the pipes had frozen.
Icy weather and freezing pipes are the biggest hazards to property in Poland.
Taking precautions during the winter
Foreigners buying houses may be buying as an investment or holiday home. Precautions must be taken during the winter to prevent flood damage. We have known people who have left their houses unoccupied over winter to return to ruined floors and walls. There are essentially two choices:
1. To drain water pipes completely to prevent burst pipes and flooding. It is not sufficient to merely drain water by opening taps because water may still lie in pipe bends and u bends and burst pipes., it is necessary to use a compresser to blow any remaining water out of the system. Radiators and central heating systems can be filled with a special anti-freeze ro stop those freeziing and causing damage.
2. Heat sufficiently throughout the winter to prevent frozen pipes. This assumes that you have a method of checking that the boiler does not fail for any reason and that pipes are insulated sufficiently despite the heating. We unfortunately discovered that despite heating throughout winter, we still managed to get a burst pipe. Really good insulation is required to counteract temperatures of -25 or -30.
If heating a house all winter, it is possible to monitor the temperature from anywhere with modern technology. It is still necessary to have someone near the house with a key to gain entrance and oversee plumbers or heating engineers should things go wrong.
Those beautiful wooden houses with an Alpine character are extremely well insulated. Theey are highly appreciated in Poland and swll at a higher cost and care must still be taken during the winter or the wood may distort when wet. We know of someone who had a leak all winter that bent a wall out of shape in addition to other damage. Damage like that is very difficult to rectify.
It is best to be aware of potential problems before buying.
- A house set on a large plot will not have any shelter from neighbouring houses and therefore more subject to cold because of the wind.
- Towns and cities are always that little bit warmer.
- If buying a house in the country, jobs are like gold dust so you should be able to find someone willing to look after it for you.