Watch for Hidden Defects

Even better than just looking yourself — Hire a professional inspector to check things like these. No house is perfect, but there are some defects that can ruin your investment.

  • Water Leaks. These usually involve the roof, windows, or foundation. A close inspection of the attic will reveal water stains if the roof is leaking or you may see stains on ceilings. Look for stains on an unfinished basement floor as an indication there has been water in the basement. There may be a good explanation, but it may be that the foundation leaks. Sometimes water will leak through the edges of improperly installed windows. Water leak repairs can be very expensive.
  • Bad Foundation. The old saying that “without a good foundation you have nothing” is a true statement. Look for large cracks inside or outside. Do the floors slope? Hire a professional to help guide you through determining any concerns.
  • Improper Drainage. One of the most common problems I see is that homeowners do not properly drain water away from the house. The soil around a house should always slope away about an inch for every foot. Look for standing puddles or muddy soil against the foundation. Are there rain gutters and spouts? Hire a licensed inspector before closing on a home to reduce the risk you may have overlooked potentially- serious problems like these. If you don’t know a licensed home inspector, ask me for a list of certified inspectors. Do the spouts direct water away from the foundation?
  • Termites. Termites love moist wood. Check the house for soft spots on floors and walls. Your best bet is to get a termite inspection which is typically $60 to $100. Note, that some lenders will require a termite inspection especially where FHA or VA is the guarantor.
  • Old Roof. How old is the roof? Are there missing or broken shingles? Are the shingles buckling? Replacing a roof is very expensive.
  • Electrical Insufficiencies. Does the house still have a fuse box or has it been updated to a breaker box? Are the current homeowners using lots of extension cords? That could indicate an insufficient number of outlets. With modern-day electronics, we consume more energy. Does the house have enough capacity for your needs? Are outlets grounded? Do the outlets by water supplies have ground fault interrupters?
  • Plumbing Issues. Is the water pressure low? Do the water pipes bang when water is flowing through them? Do the sinks, tubs and showers drain properly? Do the toilets flush correctly?

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Updated by Doretta Smith,