One of the most important steps in buying a new home is a standard home inspection. There’s a reason 99% of Realtors recommend that buyers invest in home inspection services; buying a house is a huge real estate decision, and it’s one you want to make after considering as much information as possible. But by the time you’re actually getting that professional home inspection, you’re pretty far along in the buying process. You can save yourself some time, hassle and heartache by learning to recognize some common problems on your own and keeping your eyes peeled as your real estate agent shows you prospective homes. You’ll still need a full standard home inspection before actually buying, of course, since some signs of issues such as electrical problems may be pretty subtle. But when it comes to spotting issues like water damage, there’s a lot you can do just in a quick walkthrough. Here’s where to keep your eyes open and what to look for.
- The Ceilings:
Stained ceilings are one of the most obvious signs of water damage. Most water stains will be clearly recognizable as such, and have a brown or yellowish color.
- The Walls:
Keep an eye out for stains on walls, too, especially around doors and windows. Cracks in drywall and parts of the wall that look swollen are also bad signs because drywall expands when it absorbs water.
- The Floors:
Be wary of any warping or buckling in the floors, as water damage is the most likely cause. White or dark stains may also indicate water damage and/or subsequent mold growth.
- The Pipes:
Look closely at piping in the kitchen, bathrooms(s), basement and laundry room for visible leaks or corrosion. Rust is most likely to show up on connections. If there is caulking in any of these rooms, make sure it too is intact.
- The Basement:
If a house has seepage problems, they will often show up in the basement. Use all your senses to detect visible water, dripping leaks, walls that are damp to the touch, and any smell of mold or mildew.
- The Attic:
Wet insulation is the big giveaway in the attic, but you should also look for stains and mold growth. Pay particular attention to areas of the roof where two or more roof planes join, the flashing at the angle between the roof and the walls, and flashing around any vents or chimneys.
- The Exterior:
It’s sometimes difficult to assess the condition of a roof from the ground, but try to look out for curled or missing shingles. Also take note of any standing water on the property; if the ground is improperly graded or the drainage systems are inadequate, that could lead to future water damage.
What else should homeowners look out for, even if they do plan to get a standard home inspection before actually buying? Share your tips in the comments.