Warning Signs to Look For in a Home

When house hunting, it’s easy to get caught up in the great aspects of a house, but it’s critical that you keep an eye out for warning signs and ask plenty of questions.

It’s important to look at the not-so-obvious problems and potential problems that could arise if you buy the home. Discovering flaws could help you when negotiating price, and it will give you time to consider just how many repairs need to be made if you decide to purchase the house.

To avoid later grief, consider this list of tips and questions when deciding if a particular type of home is right for you.

Neighborhood

  • Have neighbors complained about air or noise pollution from traffic and industry in the area?
  • How close is the house to power lines or large electrical towers?
  • When it rains, is there good drainage or does the street flood, threatening to do the same to your basement?

Exterior

  • Stand across the street.  Does the land slope toward the house?  Drainage should be away from the perimeter of the home.
  • Do any of the materials show signs of rotting or a previous bug problem?
  • Does the house have suitable storm windows? Do all the windows have screens? Do they open and close easily? Press your finger into the wood of the sills; if it’s soft, it’s rotten!
  • Are all doors able to shut completely to avoid drafts/bugs?
  • When was the roof last replaced? Are there odd bumps or dips?  Are shingles missing?

Garage

  • If the house has an attached garage, is there space or a well-sealed door between the garage and the living area?
  • Is there adequate vehicle and storage space?

Interior

  • Check the ceilings and walls for watermark stains or mold; this is an indication of water damage.  Consider visiting the house on a rainy day to check for leaks.
  • Does the basement or crawl space smell damp or moldy?
  • Does the staircase seem sturdy, or is it squeaky and unsteady?
  • Is the paint peeling or the molding cracked?

Flooring

  • Wood flooring and natural stone should be sealed with non-toxic sealers.
  • What’s underneath? Less expensive subflooring is prone to water damage.
  • Inspect tiles and grout for cracks.
  • Check for holes and crevices that could let in pests.

Electrical

  • Does the location of the home make it prone to power outages?
  • Are the switches antiquated? If so, perhaps the wiring is too.
  • Is the fuse box easy to understand?
  • Are there enough outlets for your needs?  Are they in preferable places throughout the house?
  • Try to avoid situations where the bedroom backs up against the kitchen wall where the refrigerator or other large appliances are running.

Water

  • Does the home have copper plumbing?
  • Run the water in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room to test water pressure, cleanliness of the water and proper drainage.
  • Look for moisture damage, mold or leaking around and underneath the sink.
  • Check the hot water system. Is it leaky or rusty? Is it big enough for your family?

General

  • Does the house have central heating and air conditioning? How old are the systems?  Are they functioning well?
  • What are the average monthly costs for heating and cooling? Good insulation is key!
  • Is there proper ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom?
  • The house should be tested for lead, asbestos and radon.  A termite check is a good idea too.
  • Is there adequate storage for all of your belongings?
  • Bring out a tape measure to make sure the furniture you plan to bring with you will fit in the rooms. Measure spaces to make sure your appliances such as the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher and microwave will fit.

You probably have more questions of your own, but hopefully you will consider these to be a good start as you determine whether a particular house is the one you want to call “home sweet home.”

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