We began this 3-article series with Grounds and Structure clues to look for when conducting your own preliminary home inspection. In Part 2, we reviewed electrical and heating systems, as well as insulation criteria to look for when assessing the integrity of a home. In this last article, we will focus on fixtures and workmanship.
Like heating, plumbing is a critical system in a home. Thankfully, problems generally occur at or near the point of use, where normal day-to-day use causes movement and wear. Open cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks. If possible, ask to see where pipes connect to the tub and shower. If you cannot access tub or shower pipes, ask if there were any repairs and what was the cause. Are pipes secured properly? Turn on the water and run your fingers against seams. Does the water pressure seem adequate? Is there a water filtration system? Is it installed securely? When was it serviced? Is it clean? Do fixtures work properly and are they of good quality? Does the toilet flush properly? Is the floor solid around the seat? Is there any sign of moisture?
Fireplaces add a lot of atmosphere to a home. However, they require proper care to ensure ongoing safety. Ask when and how often the chimney gets cleaned. Is there a combustion vent to draw air from outside? Are dampers working properly? How about log lighters? Is there a spark arrestor at the top of the chimney? Is the chimney structure secure and well built? Are all the tools present? Are there screens or glass doors and are they in good condition?
Finally, the tiled floor in the foyer and the stylish door knobs caught your eye. This is so much what you had in mind. It feels so right. Keep that thought, but look beyond first impressions. Rest assured; this is more than likely a sign that the homeowner shares your concerns for quality. Nonetheless, open your eyes. Look for sure signs of quality in finishes, hardware, molding, flooring and paint throughout the home and make sure an outstanding feature is not in fact concealing an underlying issue.
There. You have done your homework. Did you take notes? Review your findings with your partner and family. Ask your Real Estate representative to seek answers to your questions or even schedule another showing if necessary. You are well equipped to decide if this is the right home for you and to determine whether it is time to secure the services of a professional home inspector who will produce a carefully documented report for you to bring to the negotiation table.
Happy house hunting!