Inspections are a crucial aspect of the home buying process and can make or break a deal, but before you go so far as to shell out for an inspector, there are a few things you can look for on your own.
- Foundation: It seems straightforward, but it’s easy to forget to look at the foundation while you’re swooning over countertop and closets. Check ceilings and walls for cracks. If the foundation is visibly damaged or not level and you don’t want to put thousands of dollars into fixing it, don’t even bother.
- Electrical Panel: Checking out the electrical panel is an easy way to get a feel for what’s happening underneath the surface. A quick look inside the panel door will give you a relative age of the wiring in the house. If it has fuses, the wiring could be older.
- HVAC/Furnace: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Look for rust, cracks, dents, water stains or any other type of damage on the HVAC equipment. Also, keep your ears open for any strange noises that might indicate some type of internal problem. Make sure you get a copy of maintenance records from the owners if they kept any. If there are obvious problems, or the units are more than 10-15 years old, it may be time for an upgrade; if so you might be able to negotiate a discount on the selling price of the home.
- Roof: One of the most important things to look for in a roof is to check if it’s mold-free. Make sure the roof is perfectly flat and there are no curly edges or bulges. Look out for worn out spots and see if any shingles are missing. Do a speedy check to ensure all rooftop downpipes are releasing into stormwater wells and not right onto the ground. Check for breaks and leaks, leakage mostly happens in valleys, plumbing vents, chimneys, or also when it rains heavily. This can lead to mold and other damages. A ventilation system that lets sunlight and air come in easily is a must.
- Plumbing: If your potential property uses a septic tank instead of municipal sewer you need to be careful and check if the entire system is fully functional. Find out if there are any lead pipes in the home. Homes that were built prior to 1986 often have lead or galvanized plumbing
- Water Heater: Check the size of the water heater, typically a family of 4 would need a 40-gallon heater. Inspect all water heaters for signs of corrosion.
So there you are! Enjoy your house hunt, but make sure to keep your eyes peeled for these 6 potential dealbreakers!