Buying a new home can be an exciting – and stressful – time. It seems like there’s so many things to think about when searching for that perfect property that go beyond the basics of location and style. If you are working with an experienced real estate agent, he or she can help point out potential problems that could pop up down the road – such as if a new roof will be needed sooner rather than later.
However, there may be some less than obvious red flags that you should be on the lookout for. These may not be at the top of your list of things to check, but it certainly can’t hurt and will ease your mind if you do. You certainly don’t want these things costing you down the road. Here are ten key things you should check:
1. Kitchen Cabinets
The last thing you want to do is find yourself in need of a major kitchen renovation. Replacing kitchen cabinets is a pricey proposition, easily taking up about 50 percent of your renovation budget. Make sure cabinets are in good working order and don’t have major cracks. If you find them unattractive or they are covered in grease, you can always reface instead of replace them.
2. Leaks and Floods
It’s important to find out if the home was ever flooded or if there was water damage of any kind, such as a leaky water pipe. Water can do lots of damage to the home’s structure and can invite mold to grow. Although sellers are required by law to disclose this information, it’s important to double-check.
3. Bathroom Trouble
When in the bathroom, check the tub, sink and toilet for any cracks or leaks. Bathrooms are also expensive to remodel, and you don’t want to find out you’ll need to replace these pieces after you’ve already moved in. Inspect carefully with a flashlight.
4. Central Air
You may be thrilled to find out your potential new home has central air, but not so thrilled if it breaks down on you. It can cost several thousands of dollars to replace a faulty central-air system. Find out what company sold and services the home’s model and talk to a representative to make sure the unit is in peak working order.
5. Drug Problems
You might never think to check if your prospective home was used as a meth house, but it’s important to check for that, especially if the home is listed at a bargain price. That could be for a reason. Meth biowaste is difficult to get rid of; it can embed in walls, carpet and air ducts, causing health problems for those who live there. Rehabbing a meth house can be a risky and costly proposition, so be sure to know your options.
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As the cost of energy continues to rise, it becomes extremely important to be sure a home is properly insulated. There should be at least a foot of insulation in the ceiling, and insulation in the walls also helps to reduce energy costs. It can cost thousands to properly insulate a house, so make sure it’s been done right.
7. Sidewalks and Driveways
Don’t forget to check out the outside of the house, as well. Inspect the driveway and sidewalks for cracks and any sunken areas. Tree roots can cause a lot of damage, and having to dig up and replace your home’s hardscape can set you back quite a bit. Be sure to give it a thorough inspection.
8. On the Level
Bring a level along with you when looking at houses to make sure floors are level. If not, you may face problems when it comes to installing hardwood floors or tile. Laser levels are quite accurate and you’ll have a good idea if remodeling your floors will be an issue.
9. Fireplace and Chimney
Don’t get swept up in the romance of having a fireplace in your home. Sure, they’re wonderful to have – if they work right. You’ll want to give them a thorough inspection to make sure they are safe to use. Inspect the mortar to make sure it’s not crumbling, and check inside for smoke damage. Also, head outside and make sure there’s a rain cap on top of the chimney.
10. It’s Electric
It’s easy to take electricity for granted, but it’s important to make sure the system is in good working order. Find the fuse box, which should be easy to locate and in good working order. Go through the house and count outlets to make sure there are enough for your needs. Older homes, in particular, may not have as much as newer models. Make sure bathroom and kitchen outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters to prevent serious shocks.
It may seem like a lot to do, but giving your prospective new home a thorough inspection before plunking down that down payment could be the wisest thing you do. When it comes to buying a home, it’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.