Over the years I’ve witnessed home buyers just breezily walking through a home, checking out the great whirlpool tub, gawking at the custom cabinetry in the kitchen, and inspecting the view from the back porch. While all of these are great they are merely the “fluff” things on a house. What you need to be looking for are the things that end up costing you an arm and a leg in the future. And yes an inspector will more than likely be following up with an inspection it is always a good idea to be your own advocate in order to avoid paying later. Here are a few of the often overlooked items and places in a house that you will want to focus on when you go home shopping.
* Heating and air conditioning systems: With the repairs running into the $100’s and replacements into the $1,000’s it is essential to check that both of these are in good working order. Often times even inspectors will miss something on this because they are reluctant to run the heat in the summer and air conditioning in the winter. Before you sing on the dotted line I would suggest testing both of these thoroughly.
* Roof: Most inspectors simply use binoculars to see if there is a real issue with the roof. This unfortunately will not uncover all of the potential issues or leaks. Ideally try and visit the house you are interested in when it is raining or having just rained. Be sure to check the ceilings to see if they are wet or discolored.
* Outlets: While this should not necessarily be a make or break item it is noteworthy to see how many outlets are in each room. This is especially true in older homes before everyone needed to plug in their phones, tablets, tv’s,etc.
* Foundation/Water damage: This problem is not always visible but it can certainly be costly. You will want to take note to see if there is grade sloping or draining back towards the house. This can result in wet crawlspaces and eventually foundation instability. Some things that you can look for inside the house that may point to a foundation problem is windows that are out of square, interior doors that have large, uneven gaps at the top, or flooring that is visibly not level.
* Utility costs: While the home owner does not have to provide them it may be telling to ask for a copy of the utility bills. Sky high bills could be a result of too little insulation and may result in a costly fix.
* Plumbing: An inspector should be able to pinpoint any plumbing issues but I find that it is never a bad idea to run the water in all the faucets, flush the toilets, turn on the hose, etc to see if you find any issues with the homes plumbing.