Searching for your new home can be fun. You will likely visit open houses and your realtor will schedule viewings of any home for sale that meets your criteria. There are so many different home styles that it is natural for you to simply imaging living in each home and discovering how you will use each room.
Soon you will find THE home, but before you fall in love, look (and smell) for the following items that can save you a lot of time and energy before hiring a home inspector to find these items for you.
- Ask for the sellers disclosures. Most sellers are very honest about repair needs and repairs made previously to the house. Make sure to take a good look at the areas disclosed. For example, if the seller disclosed that the furnace was replaced recently take a look at the service records that should be prominently place on or near the unit.
- Check for proper site drainage. The ground around the house should be sloped away from the structure. Best practice is to build homes so that the surrounding area slopes down a minimum 6 inches within the first 10 feet. This could be hard to notice with the naked eye but negative drainage (slopes towards the house) can be easily noticed and should trigger concern. Water damage to your foundation can be one of the most expensive repairs a home will ever encounter. Also be sure that gutters and downspouts are properly used.
- Use your nose and take a deep breath. Smells inside a home trigger home inspectors to look closer in certain areas. Pet dander and trash smells, while unpleasant are not permanent. We are more concerned with a damp or mildew smell that could discover more moisture related issues as discussed above.
- Make sure the home is safe for your lifestyle. Building codes get updated every year because of significant accident that happen in homes. Home inspectors are not “code inspectors” but there are some best practice guidelines we follow to ensure your home is safe. If you have children or pets, think about their safety as well. For example, newer codes expect no more than a four inch separation in upper level or stair spindles because of continued cases of children falling though.
These items are far from everything a home inspector will check for in your home but they are good signals the home buyer should keep in mind when deciding what house to go under contract with (and before hiring their inspector). All issues found in homes are fixable but every buyer has to decide to what extent of repairs are they are personally willing to go through.