Buying a home can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time. You know what you like from a cosmetic standpoint, but do you know what to look for when it comes to flaws that can lead to costly repairs in the not-so-distant future? Because most people don’t know how to spot red flags, home inspections are always recommended. Here we provide smart home buying tips to help you identify possible issues.
Home Inspector Tips When Buying A Home:
1. Look At The Roof
While you’re not going to get up on a ladder to do a thorough inspection of the roof, it’s important to take a step back and get a good look at the roof’s condition. Red flags that show the roof is in ill repair include:
- Brittle-looking, curled, missing or damaged shingles
- Signs of damage to the eavestroughs such as rusting, sagging, bending, etc.
- Signs of damage to the areas beneath the eavestroughs such as rust stains, peeling paint, rotting wood, etc.
New roofs can cost upwards of $10,000 so you want to know your roof is sound. Therefore you actually have to continue your roof inspection indoors. Look for signs of roof leaks including:
- The appearance of damage to the ceiling such as missing stucco on “popcorn” ceilings, peeling edges where the ceiling lines meet the wall, discolourations and stains, etc.
- Bubbling of paint on the walls or ceiling
- Staining along the outer walls of the rooms
- A funny smell that is mildewy or mouldy
- Damage to floors or carpets that appear to be water-related
- Bulges in wood flooring
- Buckling beneath window frames
All of these signs mean there has been water damage and can help you negotiate your home purchase price accordingly.
2. Check For Leaky Eavestroughs
While not always possible, if weather permits, choose a rainy day to drive by homes you are considering. Look at the eavestroughs to see if you notice excess runoff and leaking. This is important as leaky eavestroughs can lead to many costly issues including severe damage to the roof as well as the foundation. If it isn’t raining, walk around the home and inspect the eavestroughs looking for the following:
- Rust and damage
- Corners coming apart at the joints
- Obvious overflow of leaves and debris (which indicates the owners might not be cleaning away the debris regularly so the home overall might be poorly maintained)
- Eavestroughs that don’t appear to be affixed to the house
- Discolouration or cracking in the foundation
All of these signs point to a potential issue with the eavestroughs.
3. Look For Pest infestations
From bugs to local wildlife like squirrels and raccoons, pests can cause plenty of damage to a home. Look for signs of peeled away siding, or areas of the roofline that look like there is space for an animal to crawl through. Damaged siding can allow insects to create nests and can also put the home at risk of crawly pests like termites. Structural damage from termites is a costly repair. As well, different rodents and animals can cause all kinds of problems including electrical damage by chewing on wiring. They can also tear away insulation, gnaw at wood and contaminate the structure through their urine and feces.
4. Sniff For Mould And Mildew
Use your nose as the best way to determine if there is hidden mould and mildew in the home. Mould and mildew grow in moist, damp conditions such as the ones caused by leaks. If you notice a musky, unpleasant smell in the home, chances are there are moisture issues, leaks, or past leaks that haven’t been properly resolved. This can result from a long list of issues.
5. Feel For Room Comfort
If you notice the home’s temperature seems to vary from room to room, there could be an issue with several things. While it could be the HVAC system, other issues can range from old, drafty doors and windows to poor insulation, and faulty old siding to improper insulation in the attic. Stand beside closed exterior doors to feel for drafts, and use your hand to feel around window frames to detect cold air leaking into the home.
6. Condensation In Windows
Condensation or frost in windows is a sure sign the windows have lost their seal. Even modern homes can have faulty windows that have allowed the protective gas sealed between window pains to leak out. This makes them less effective for energy efficiency which will only get worse with time.
7. Open And Close Windows
The windows might appear fine, but do they work? You want to ensure all windows open, close and lock properly. Poorly functioning windows not only can lead to leaks, but they also drain energy and pose a security risk. As well, windows can save lives during a fire. If windows don’t operate properly, you could be at risk of being trapped in the house during an emergency.
8. Open And Close Exterior Doors
Exterior doors are put through the test of time. Constant opening and closing can cause damage to seals, while poor installation can make it difficult to open and close a door smoothly. As well, older steel or wood doors can be major energy drains for a home which costs money every month. Inspect the doors to make sure they open and close easily, while also sealing tightly when they come in contact with the door jamb.
9. Too Much Peeling Paint
While paint colour is purely a matter of taste, peeling paint is a sign of trouble. As mentioned above, peeling paint is a sign of water damage. But it also means the current owners have not properly cared for the home. Home maintenance is an important aspect of its condition. If owners can’t or simply don’t maintain important elements of their home from the roof to the eavestroughs and the siding to the windows and doors, it eventually leads to costly issues and repairs.
10. Look For Low-Maintenance Features
Some of the low-maintenance features that will make life easier once you move in include:
- Vinyl or aluminum siding
- Vinyl or aluminum soffits and fascia
- Newer vinyl windows
- Newer steel or fibreglass doors
- Seamless eavestroughs
- Gutter guards
All of these features are very low maintenance and also highly durable. This is a sign that your daily life will be easier and you’ll have fewer worries. If you fall in love with a home that needs repairs, have a professional come in and provide a quote for the work. This is a smart home buying tip as it allows you to accurately negotiate your home purchase price.