Securing the services of a qualified home inspector can be costly, but if you have your heart set on a home, it can give you a significant advantage against far more expensive surprises in the future.
This is true for brand new homes as well, for they do not have the benefit of the test of time. Most builders apply high standards of craftsmanship and integrity to their work, but there are some who lack this vision. This is not evident in a new construction, which is all the more reason to secure the opinion of a professional ally. Time is also a good ally. It reveals the strengths and weaknesses of architectural and other details.
If a house has significant drawbacks, you may choose to put your attention on a different prospect. However, if you are fairly certain that this home may be the one, it is possible to determine if the cost of a professional inspector makes sense by diligently looking for initial clues.
We begin this 3-article series with Grounds and Structure clues to look for when conducting your own preliminary inspection.
1- Grounds & Structure
- Take a good look at the grounds. Do they slope away from or toward the house? Grounds that slope toward the house can be a risk for water infiltration or damage. This may not be obvious if you are visiting the property on a dry day.
- Walk around the house and examine the gutters and downspouts. Are there important depressions near the base of the house, indicating water accumulation and poor drainage? Are the gutters secure and likely to direct drainage away from the house? Examine the roof. If it is a pitched roof, is it straight? If it is flat, is there evidence of depressions? If it has shingles, are there any missing? Has it weathered well?
- Examine the windows. Are they properly sealed? Is there any sign of water damage, such as mold? Do they open and close properly?
- Look at the walls, inside and out. Are they straight, plumb and flat? Are the corners, well, just like corners should be?
- How about the floors? Are they straight and solid? Do they sag in the middle of the room? Do they flex when you walk or feel solid?
Once you have identified areas of concern, though hopefully you will not, determine whether you wish to pursue steps to purchase this home. If you do, it makes sense to hire a home inspector at this point. His or her report will further instruct the buying process and help you approach the seller regarding necessary upgrades or decide what you are willing to handle yourself once you own the property.
In the next article, home inspection tips for insulation, electrical and heating systems.