Buying or building a home is a major financial commitment, which is why you want to make sure you’re making the right choice. Not only should the home meet your lifestyle needs, but it should be in good working condition to ensure the safety of you and your family.
It’s important to make the most of each home inspection, looking beyond the interior design to ensure the home is structurally sound. If you’re serious about buying a particular home, here are 14 things you should double-check before you make an offer.
Inside the home
Bed, bath and car:
Start off your inspection by ticking off the basics. Does the potential property offer enough bedrooms, bathrooms and car spaces to meet your requirements? You should consider the layout as well. Think about how each room is placed, if the floorplan is open and whether it will work for your family’s lifestyle.
Water stains or mould
Keep your eyes peeled for water stains or mould, paying close attention to wet areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms. All cabinets should be opened, smelling of damp or mildew. This can be a sign of ventilation issues, leaks or plumbing problems.
Doors and windows
As you walk through the property, open and close all windows and doors. Make sure they don’t stick as this can be an indication of warped wood or rusted metal. You should also look for any fine cracks around sills and frames, and don’t forget to double-check that quality fly screens are installed where necessary.
Inhaling asbestos dust can cause major health issues and requires professional removal. If the home was built before 2003, you should ask the sales agent if asbestos was used in the construction. If so, find out where it was used.
Look for damaged surfaces, loose grouting, lifting tiles or mould in the bathrooms. These can be signs of water damage. You should also check the pipes for corrosion. Make sure the toilet flushes and refills without issue, and check that seals around the shower door are correctly fitted and intact.
Don’t assume the home has sufficient water pressure. Turn on the taps, showers and bath, making note of the colour of the water and any strange smells.
If you’re able, check the insulation in the roof through the manhole cover, inspecting the condition it’s in. You should also speak to the agent about whether or not the walls are insulated. If so, find out when was the insulation installed. Properly installed and effective insulation will help keep your home warm through the winter and cool in the summer. Replacing it can be time consuming and expensive.
Heating and cooling systems
Speaking of heating and cooling, make sure you speak to the sales agent about the heating and cooling systems in the house. Ask when they were installed and the last time they were serviced. You should also check on the water heater to ensure there are no surprises after you settle on the home.
Outside the home
Don’t forget to take stock of the general appearance of the outside of the home. Look for any cracks or damage in the walls and foundations. You should also check the state of the paint or siding — will it need to be redone?
The orientation of the home can have many eco-friendly benefits. For example, a north-facing home makes the most of the morning sun and stays cooler through the afternoons. Double-check the layout once inside to make sure living areas are situated to make the most of the orientation.
Roof, gutters and downpipes
Inspect the roofline, checking for any sagging that can be an indication of structural issues. You should also check the state of the roofing materials. Are there missing or broken tiles, or rust issues? While you’re at it, check the rain gutters for leaks, holes, rust or blockages. Make sure the downpipes are in good condition and securely fastened to the stormwater drain.
Garden and fencing
Make note of the surrounding trees, their age and condition. Older trees may fall or drop branches that could damage the property. You should also look at the garden, considering how easy it will be to maintain or improve what’s already there. The same goes for any fencing on the property.
While you are inspecting the garden and surrounding landscaping, look for any muddy spots or puddles in the beds and grass. This can be an indication of poor drainage that could cause damage to the property during a storm. This is especially important if the property is built on a slope.
Look out for any signs of pest infestations. Are there traps or poisons set out? Make note of any sagging or springy floors, springy steps, or hollow-sounding beams. These can all be signs of termites, which can lead to costly future renovations. It’s well worth getting a building and pest inspection to ensure the property is pest and damage-free.