If you are a first time home buyer or a seasoned real estate veteran, it pays to be aware of common problems found in many homes. Here is a list of seven items to be prepared to identify and address. These items should usually be discovered on your home inspection by a qualified home inspector. However, as a buyer, you should be making mental notes of these items beforehand so you can make an offer and budget accordingly.
1) THE ROOF
PROBLEM: A damaged or poorly maintained roof can lead to serious problems, including water damage. Major roof repairs can be expensive, and should be factored into the price of the home if they exist.
KEEP IN MIND: When you have a home inspection and your inspector tells you that there are only a few years of expected life in the roof, buyers shouldn’t expect the seller to replace it. Most sellers are not going to replace a roof when there are years of life left before issues arise.
2) ROTTEN WOOD
PROBLEM: Look for rotten wood around the base of the home, along the roof and anywhere else where moisture may have been an issue. Some of the most common areas you will find wood rot on a home are on the window sills.
KEEP IN MIND: While rotted window sills can be found on any age home, there has been a prevalence of it in homes that were built in the 80’s and 90’s . Casement windows tend to have the most problems.
3) HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEMS
PROBLEM: Heating, Venting & Air Conditioning systems (HVAC systems) wear out over time, and can be expensive to replace.
KEEP IN MIND: One of the most important things you can do as a home buyer is to check the current maintenance logs on these systems. Verify the age, integrity and maintenance schedule of any heating or cooling system present in the home.
4) POOR DRAINAGE
PROBLEM: Water damage can lead to expensive repairs, not to mention, mold. Ensure that drainage is sufficient on any property you purchase.
KEEP IN MIND: Dry summer days make it easy to forget about drainage needed to deal with area rainfall. Check disclosures and check around the house for possible water entry points.
PROBLEM: Functional handrails are necessary on staircases along balconies for safety. Make sure these areas have handrails and that they are secure.
KEEP IN MIND: One of the common trouble spots is on decks.
6) OLD APPLIANCES
PROBLEM: If you are buying a home with appliances included remember appliances are built to last only so long, especially if they are not regularly maintained. It’s worthwhile to do some research on year, brand and model to see what you are really purchasing.
KEEP IN MIND: An inspector will generally check if certain appliances have power and will turn on, they do not identify the quality of the appliance. For instance how well your oven will bake a quiche or how many years it has left.
7) ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
PROBLEM: Radon, Lead-based paint, Mold and Asbestos are all health concerns. Be aware of the dangers of these materials, and verify whether they are present in the home. Environmental testing services are typically available from more experienced inspection companies as add on services.
KEEP IN MIND: If you are buying a property serviced by a well instead of public water, it is also important to have that tested as well as the septic system (if applicable).
Buyers who are prepared for these types of issues will be a lot less stressed during the transaction. Remember however, problems may crop up. Take it slow and do the necessary research to resolve the problem by speaking with a few reputable contractors and getting necessary estimates for repair.