It's great to know what issues to look for before you consider purchasing a home and more importantly before obtaining a home inspection, as they are a bit costly. If you can detect major structural issues in a home you’re considering, you may end up ruling out that home before obtaining a home inspection, which may end up saving you money.
Important things to keep an eye out for include the condition of the foundation, roof, walls, floors, ceilings, furnace and A/C and windows. You will also want to keep an eye out for water damage, water leaks and mould.
After all, this is the largest transaction you will make and you don’t want to end up spending more money in fixing up your home after finding surprise issues.
First, lets start with the exterior of the home – this is the first thing you will see (obviously) and it will give you a general impression of how well maintained the homeowners have kept it.
Are the walls in good condition? Are they crumbling? Do they require maintenance or re-painting? Is the grading of the home sloping towards or away from the home? Is there adequate room for draining from the downspouts?
Next, let’s look at the roof – are the shingles crumbling or peeling? If so, this may be a sign of water damage or they may just be out dated and need replacing. If there is a chimney on the roof, you will want to look at the overall condition of it as well.
A good trick in detecting leaks is turning on the sink and shower and going to the room directly beneath the bathroom to check the ceiling for any signs of water damage by looking for dark water stains on the ceiling and floor, peeling and bubbling paint, cracks in the drywall, warped floors, mould, musty smells, yellow on the baseboard, white efflorescence and rust.
Check for items that may become problematic when obtaining insurance, including having an amp service under 100 (check the electrical panel for the label), knob and tube wiring and aluminum wires as these all have a higher risk for fire.
Look at the condition of the windows in each room - check the energy efficiency by seeing if there is a draft, if there are any gaps or if the caulking is deteriorating. You can determine the date the windows were installed by checking the date on the sticker.
Outweigh all the pros and cons of the home and possible issues. Don’t just put an offer on the first property that you see unless you are 100% certain on your decision and have weighed out all of the pros and cons.
In the end, not all major and minor structural issues can be detected and it's highly recommended that you leave it to the experts by obtaining a home inspection. Even though home inspections can be a bit costly, it may end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.