You’re at an amazing home that you have looked at online dozens of times and driven by even more. As you go through the home, it looks exactly like the pictures, and you become smitten in no time! Now that the house has passed the “first impressions” test, you have to put your potential dream home through the Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass assessment!
1.) Look at the ceilings. Find out whether or not there have been any leaks. If you spot paint damage, there could be a leak in a second floor bathroom, or there could be damage to the roof
2.) Notice the temperature in every room. This will help you to tell if the furnace is evenly distributed throughout the home. If not, there could be a problem with the furnace. Of course, examine the furnace to see how well cared for it is, AND definitely find out how old the furnace is and when it was last inspected.
3.) Sniff and look for moisture. Looks and smells can be deceiving, so it’s not a bad idea to also take a moisture meter with you, so you can test some of the wood and walls down in the basement. If it is over 25%, you will want to look into it a little further.
4.) “Orange is not the new black” when it comes to houses. Rust on appliances or the air conditioner can signify a lack of care and a problem with moisture, so take a close look.
5.) Find out about the water heater. Ask about the size and the age to determine if it is going to meet your needs and whether or not it may need replaced in the near future. The average lifespan of a water heater is 8-12 years. Based on the size of your family, Bob Villa of This Old House recommends:
- 1-2 people 23 to 36 gallons
- 2-4 people 36 to 46 gallons
- 3-5 people 36 to 46 gallons
- 3-5 people 46 to 56 gallons
6.) Look at the electrical and find out when it was last inspected or redone. An older home is more likely to have outdated wiring which can be expensive to replace and dangerous not to.
7.) If there is carpet in the home, ask about the flooring underneath. If there are hardwoods everywhere there isn’t carpet, there may be hardwoods underneath which adds good value to your home.
8.) Check around the toilets for water leak damage. Also, inspect older bathtubs for leaks and damage as they can be costly to replace.
9.) After you have tested out the inside of the home, give the outside of the home a thorough examination. check around the foundation of the home. Look for cracks and unevenness in the sidewalk that could lead to future issues in plumbing and settling in the home.
10.) If your home is surrounded by trees, then look for branches that could damage your roof. Check out how healthy they are because they can be quite expensive to remove.
11.) Take a good look at the roof. Ask about the age of the roof. Find out if the roof is single-shingles or double. According to MIchigan code, a roof can be reshingled two times before being required to rip off the old shingles and apply new ones. Roofs are usually guaranteed for 25 years.
12.) Now that you have looked under every rock inside and outside the home, it is a good idea to really observe the neighborhood. Look for a lot of for sale signs. If there appears to be a large amount of them, you need to look for some underlying community issues that might be to blame. It might be water quality; it might be criminal activity, it might be the neighborhood school system. The bottom line is you have some more homework to do. Check online to get ratings for safety and school quality. Check into the water system and make sure it is in working order, and by all means, talk to the neighbors. Ask your realtor to do some digging for you, too. If you have the right realtor, they want you to find the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood.
Rarely will you find the perfect home with the perfect interior, unless it is a new build (and even then there may be issues). But, it is great to be prepared, so that there aren’t any surprises after you move into your new home. Do this quality check, get an inspection, and then live happily ever after in your new home!