Buyer Beware: 15 House-Hunting Red Flags
Buying a home is a big financial commitment, so it’s crucial to know what you’re getting into before you put down any money. An uneducated purchase can result in a lot of time and money down the road. To save you cash—and heartache—be sure to look closely at any prospective new home. If you’re not sure what to look for, we can help. Here are 15 common home defects of which every potential homebuyer should be aware.
House Hunting Help
Whether you’re looking to buy a first home or a vacation home, purchasing a house is big investment. Buyers must look beyond beauty and examine the integrity of the elements that make up the home. For help in deciphering what to look for, we interviewed Greg Haskett, from HomeTeam Inspection Services. Here’s what he had to say about common home defects and what to look for as you hunt for a new home.
Wood that’s exposed to moisture rots over time. Inspect wood in the kitchen and the bathroom, including the tub surround, toilet seat, countertop, and flooring. These spots are especially vulnerable to moisture and should be protected with a special paint or finish. Don’t forget to check the exterior of the home, including the deck, eaves, and trim, for signs of rotting.
If a home doesn’t have proper ventilation, moisture cannot evaporate and will inevitably cause problems. Make sure the attic is properly ventilated to ensure that the roof has a long and functional life. Proper attic ventilation allows the intense heat of the sun to escape from the attic space, and promotes evaporation of moisture that would otherwise damage interior walls and structural elements.
Improper Maintenance of Appliances
Extend the life of appliances and other equipment by taking the simple, smart action of performing regular maintenance. This includes cleaning out the lint trap and exhaust hose in the clothes dryer and cleaning filters in the HVAC unit and range hoods.
The longer a family has lived in their home, the more likely you’ll find household repairs done by the homeowner or another amateur. Often these repairs—most commonly seen in the areas of plumbing and electrical—don’t follow building codes and are likely to fail or cause more damage down the road.
Inadequate drainage around the exterior of a home leads to water intrusion in basements, garages, and crawl spaces. This can compromise the foundation of a home and create mold problems.
Failing Heating & Cooling Systems
A failing or aging heating and cooling system in an older home will likely require costly maintenance. These systems could also emit carbon monoxide fumes, which are harmful to your family. These old systems are less efficient than modern choices and consequently have higher heating and cooling costs.
Because there was limited technology and fewer building restrictions in the past, an older home may contain lead-based paint, high levels of carbon monoxide, radon, toxic molds, or even asbestos. Any of these require professional testing and monitoring to ensure the safety of your family.
The pipes under a sink can be made of incompatible materials that lead to dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, and slow drains. Address all plumbing problems before you buy a home to save yourself from costly repairs in the future.
Electrical Safety Issues
Dated or insufficient electrical systems can cause breaker tripping or, worse, a fire. Examples of electrical safety hazards to watch out for are ungrounded outlets, lack of ground-fault circuit interrupters, aluminum wiring, and faulty wiring in electrical panels or elsewhere in the house. These potentially hazardous defects must be taken seriously.
Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems. Check for well-maintained gutters, downspouts, and proper grading around the foundation to direct water away from the home.
Loose or Missing Hand Rails
Over time, railings inside and outside of the home can become loose or go missing. Unstable or insecure railings aren’t safe. Examine a home’s porch, deck, stairs, and landings to make sure all railings are stable and up to code.
Roofing can contain old or damaged shingles or improper flashing. Should you buy a home with roof concerns, do not ignore it. Repair the roofing in order to prevent costly damage.
No part of this country is impervious to storm damage. And damage from a past hurricane, tornado, or flood can plague a home for years. Inspect the roofing, siding, and exterior railings for wind and water damage and defective repairs. Also, inspect the drywall for water intrusion that could create potential mold problems.
You might get an amazing deal on a foreclosed property, but be sure to check on the condition of the property before you sign for it. (Occasionally, former homeowners may have taken their frustrations out on the property.) If you buy a foreclosed property, watch for stripped or damaged cabinets, surfaces, fixtures, and appliances.
Home Inspection Info
A home inspection—by a trained and certified inspector—is your best bet for discovering these defects and making a smart buying decision. VisitHomeTeam Inspection Services to find a reliable inspector in your area. For more information on home inspections, visit the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. Used with permission. ©Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com. All rights reserved.