Buying a home is a huge investment, and you want to ensure you aren’t purchasing a money pit. What are the red flags to look for in a home inspection? Knowing what the biggest warning signs are when it comes to a home’s condition can help you analyze your home inspector’s report.
The first thing you want to know after a home inspection is if any structural problems were found. A foundation that is cracked or otherwise compromised is a huge concern, as are damaged load-bearing walls or a ceiling that is sagging. Misalignments of window frames, door frames, decks or porches can indicate serious issues, as can cracks in walls or basement floors.
If the surrounding property hasn’t been correctly graded, you can end up with water under your home, which can cause many of the structural issues mentioned as well as serious flooding. If the home has had issues with water drainage in the past, there may be visible signs such as patches of dead grass, flat grassless areas, or sloping ground leading towards the house itself.
While a little mildew may seem like no big deal, mold spores can hide in walls and under floors, ready to multiply with a vengeance. If black mold is found, there is a toxicity danger, and the home may not even be legal to sell or purchase. Visible mold, large areas where paint is trying to come off in patches, and a sharp, sour smell are signs of a serious mold problem.
Electrical problems are a serious red flag, as they are highly dangerous and extremely costly to fix. Look for scorch marks around outlets or light switches, or heat when you touch the plate. If lights flicker or you hear a buzzing or hum when you turn something on, see if it is coming from the breaker box. Appliances wired directly into walls or old fuses instead of breaker switches are signs that the electrical system hasn’t been updated in years.
Old plumbing can mean faulty pipes, which are usually behind walls or under the floor. This means another costly type of repair. Low water pressure or slow drainage throughout the home points to potential problems. So does cloudy water, sputtering faucets, and clanking or groaning pipes when water is turned on or off.
Musty smells, shredded insulation, holes in walls or in the exterior of the home, tracks, and droppings can all be signs of pests. So can more subtle signs like powdery substances around window sills or door frames or along baseboards. Pest damage can be extensive, and require ripping up floors or tearing out walls to address.
An old roof that hasn’t been replaced in 20 years is due for a complete overhaul. Even a roof replaced in the past few years could have been compromised by a weather event. Checking the roof is one of the main things a home inspector does, so they can provide a status update on its condition.
The home inspection report may include some of these signs which point to serious problems in your potential new home. If necessary, you can have specialists come out and estimate damage so you have a starting point for negotiations if you decide to try and move forward with the purchase.
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