A while back we asked real estate leader Bill Gassett to share with us what he believes are the most common home problems buyers should look for. Although some time has passed since, we’ve noticed that these issues ring just as true today as they did then.
Once you finish the purchase of a home, you become responsible for everything that comes with it. Unfortunately, this includes any existing issues with the home. Ensuring that any property you may purchase is free of the following fourteen problems may take some extra time and money during the home-hunting and inspection phases, but can save you far more in the long run.
1. Roof Issues
The roof is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of a home. A compromised roof can cause serious damage to the house and to your pockets. Roof repairs can be quite costly, and should be factored into the price of the home. Keep in mind that most sellers won’t replace a roof if there are still a few years of expected life in it.
2. Storm Damage
Extreme weather can cause significant damage to the exterior of the house, both on to the roof and to the siding, or even foundations, in case of flooding and freezing. Hail damage can be quite destructive and easy to miss as it’s often not visible to the naked eye. A good home inspector should be able to spot hail damage by using special gear and can also assess the integrity of the roof and foundation.
3. Old Appliances
It’s highly unlikely that the property you’re buying is equipped with brand new appliances. Be sure you take into consideration the cost of repairing or even replacing them should they stop functioning. Do some research on the brand, model and especially the year of the property’s major appliances to know exactly what to expect.
You might not think of them as a big deal, but functional handrails are mandatory on staircases and along balconies. A wobbly handrail can be a serious safety issue, so be sure to test all of them.
5. Rotten Wood
Rotten wood may be found anywhere that moisture, mold, or humidity are issues. Check the base of the home, along the roof and especially on the window sills. Finger-jointed materials, used heavily in the 80’s and 90’s, usually rot more quickly due to water penetration. If the home has a wood deck, be sure to check if it was properly maintained and prepared for the cold season.
6. Cooling or Heating Systems
Replacing an HVAC system can be an extensive and costly project. Be sure to check the age and maintenance schedule of any temperature control system already in the home. Regular servicing is crucial for this kind of item, and while a well-maintained boiler can last thirty years or more, the cost and time involved in replacing a boiler or furnace risks turning a profitable investment into a loss.
7. Environmental Issues
Doing a thorough check for any environmental concerns should be on every potential buyer’s to-do list. The last thing you want to discover in your new home is mold or asbestos. These, alongside materials such as radon or lead-based paint, are serious health concerns.
8. Electrical Safety Concerns
The older the home, the most likely it is to have faulty wiring. Current codes require ground fault breaker outlets in bathrooms and kitchens, but you should also consider today’s increased electrical load. People are using more appliances and electronics than ever, so be sure the wiring is up to date and can handle the electrical load in order to avoid frying that new plasma screen TV.
9. Poor Drainage/Roof Water Control
As we’ve established already, water damage along a foundation can kill a sale in a split-second. Poor roof and gutter drainage is another cause for water damage, one that many buyers overlook when making a purchase. Check that the drainage paths direct water away from your foundation on any property you purchase. This should include checking the gutters as well. Clogged or poorly maintained gutters can be a sign that the upkeep of the property hasn’t really been a priority.
10. Pest Control
Pest infestations can be quite a hassle. They are hard to resolve and usually reoccur. Look for signs of previous pest issues both inside and outside the home and be sure that the area was properly sprayed during routine pest control visits.
11. Poor Ventilation
In a lot of homes mold develops because there is not enough airflow in a specific room. Proper ventilation in all areas of the house, including the attic, is a must if you want to avoid mold problems.
12. Plumbing Problems
The plumbing system is another hidden part of the home that is crucial in making the space comfortable and livable. Just as in the case of electrical equipment, homes with older pipes and fixtures may present problems. Unexpected factors, such as tree root growth can also cause serious damage to a plumbing system. Be sure the house has plumbing that works by checking for all the common bathroom problems.
13. Poor Caulking
Check around the windows and doors for proper caulking and weather stripping. These items wear out in time, but they are relatively easy to repair or replace. This will ensure that water or air doesn’t come in around the doors and windows.
14. Bad Insulation
Good insulation is vital everywhere, but especially north of the 49th. If you’re viewing a home in summer, it may not be until winter that you fully appreciate the cost of poor insulation. Get a specialist to verify that the home has good quality insulation in the walls and attic.
Learn from Someone Who Knows How
While this list can be overwhelming, an experienced real estate agent knows how to check for these issues. In case you’re going through the entire process yourself, print out a home viewing checklist to be sure you don’t miss anything.
A qualified home inspector usually discovers these items during the home inspection. However, it’s good practice to be prepared for these types of issues when purchasing real estate. This way, you’ll be less stressed with your transaction in case problems pop up. If an issue occurs, do some research and get in touch with a contractor to get an estimate for the repair.