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Purchasing a home can be challenging. You want to be sure you’re getting a house that’ll last. It’s essential to avoid major maintenance problems.
How can you know if the house you’re considering has hidden issues that can be costly in the future? Here are several ideas of what to look for when you inspect the property.
As you tour the house, notice any signs of leaks. Use a flashlight to illuminate each area well. Check for the following potential problems:
- Stains on walls
- Sagging ceilings
- Leakage in the attic
- Softness around the toilet
- Hidden damage under beds or behinds sofas
When looking inside the kitchen, check the cabinets. If you detect a moldy smell or dampness, it may indicate water leaks or excessive humidity.
A moisture meter can help determine whether there’s a problem. If you find wood that seems soft, take a reading. Numbers under 16% are good, but up to 28% there’s still a chance of fixing the problem.
Should you detect a significant moisture issue during the inspection, be sure to talk with the seller about it before signing a contract.
Check both internal and external walls for any large cracks. If you find several over 1/16 inch in width, make sure you get an opinion from a building inspector.
Hairline cracks in internal wall plaster can also be a sign of significant problems. They often indicate incorrect application. The material can continue cracking and come loose, causing unsightly damage.
As you scan the outside of the home for cracks, check for small holes that facilitate water drainage. You can typically find them above and below door and window frames.
Such holes are also common above suspended slabs in houses with multiple stories. There’s usually about four feet of space between them. If you find they don’t exist, be aware that moisture can remain inside the structure and lead to costly ongoing maintenance.
Make sure you examine the appliances that’ll stay in the home. Request service records so you don’t have any surprises when you move in.
Appliances use energy differently. For example, the air conditioner, dishwasher, refrigerator, water heater, washer, and dryer typically consume the most. Some are more efficient than others.
Check for the Energy Star label on major appliances as you tour the house. If they’re modern and have an excellent rating, you’ll be able to save on electricity. On the other hand, think twice about outdated machines, which can increase your spending.
In addition to the energy rating of an air conditioner, water heater, or furnace, you’ll want to verify that they’re working well. Check for warning signs like:
- Rust on the furnace or air conditioning unit
- Significant differences in temperature between rooms when HVAC is on
- Rust on the water heater
- Unusual sounds from the furnace when running
To evaluate the roof, you can follow these steps:
- Look at it from the outside.
- Analyze its lines to determine whether they’re straight, with no inconsistencies or sagging.
- Check for missing tiles or shingles, mold, and curling.
You may need to observe the roof from a distance with binoculars or ask the seller for permission to use a ladder and inspect it up close.
While you’re on the roof, inspect the gutters and downspouts, too. Look for corrosion or any other sign they’ll need replacement soon.
From the ground, check that downspouts connect to a storm drain or sanitary sewer. If they don’t, water can seep into the earth around the house and then into the basement.
Purchasing a home is a huge decision that’ll affect your life for years to come. To avoid major maintenance issues, check the property thoroughly before buying. Inspect for water damage, mold, and cracks.
Verify the energy rating of appliances that’ll stay in the home. Check the HVAC system and roof for maintenance issues. Doing all this will help you identify any potential problems and make a wise purchasing decision.