Even though most home buyers have never been contractors, many feel that they can adequately assess potential problems. Why do we assume that watching HGTV has made us experts? Perhaps, we are pre-wired to disregard any negativity once we have decided to purchase a home. Instead of ignoring potential trouble, buyers should run from a purchase if they see any of these three warning signs.
1. Foundation problems. Foundation problems almost always lead to a very expensive repair bill. While every home settles over time and not every irregularity is a problem, you should vigilantly look for indicators of serious issues.
First, visually check foundation walls for any bulging. Use a level to assess any unevenness. Curving and bulging could indicate a shift in the foundation.
Using a screwdriver, check the concrete foundation and wood framing for signs of moisture. Concrete should resist chipping and flaking. Concrete that chips or flakes may be compromised by water. Wooden framing shouldn’t be wet. If you aren’t sure about the framing’s integrity, use the screwdriver to probe the area.
Finally, check the home’s interior for warning signs. Windows that stick and doors that won’t latch are a concern. Cracks in the wall, especially near windows or doors can also indicate a problem. Certainly, you shouldn’t see cracks in ceramic tile.
2. Roof damage. Most roofs last about 20 years. However, regardless of the roof’s age, you should still inspect it because if a roof fails, expensive water damage will follow. Fortunately, most roof damage can be assessed from the ground. Using binoculars, look for missing shingles, shingles that are curling at the edges, and shingles that are cracked.
On a sunny day, go into the attic, keeping the light off. Look at the areas near the chimney. If you see points of light, then the flashing may be bad. Turn on the attic light and check the rest of the roof. Dark spots may be an indication of moisture.
Finally, check the gutter downspouts. If you see a lot of shingle granules, you may be in trouble. Singles lose more granules as they age.
3. Plumbing issues. Use several methods to detect plumbing problems. As an overall assessment, close the main water valve to the house and check the meter. If it is running, the plumbing has a leak.
Check each outlet’s water pressure. Expect some variance, but look for overall consistency. If the pressure is low, you may have a clog, a leak, or pipes that are not the correct size. While you are inspecting, check to make sure pipes are dry to the touch.
Run water and listen as it drains. If you hear gurgling noises or observe slow drainage, you may have a clog. Flush toilets and make sure that no water oozes around the base, indicating a cracked seal.
Finally, if the home has a septic tank, find out where it is located and where the field lines are. Check this area carefully for any odors or standing water.
When you give a home a thorough inspection before you put an offer on the property, the purchase is likely to give you fewer expensive surprises. Of course, in addition to these DIY inspections, you should also hire a professional home inspector. Determining the quality of your new home before you purchase it is imperative. If the home doesn’t meet your expectations, then don’t look back. You will find another one that will be right for your family.