Buying a new home, especially if it is your first, is incredibly exciting. However, it’s crucial not to let yourself get carried away or to jump into a decision too quickly. Besides looking to see whether or not a home is well suited to your family, you’ll also want to make sure it’s in good shape. There are a few distinct signs of trouble to look for.
Roofs and gutters are a common problem area. You’ll want to look for damaged shingles, or shingles curling at the edges, which is a sign of advanced age. Another sign of age is when the granules on top of the shingles start to erode. A mix of new and old shingles is a sign of old problems that may have been incompletely patched up. You may also want to see if the gutters have been kept up, or if there are clogs or patches of rust.
Checking the ceilings in the attic will also help to determine the state of the roof from the underside, particularly if there are signs of water damage from past leaks. Attics are also a place to find problems with wiring or venting and insulation.
In older homes, you will need to look for signs of bad repair or serious ageing in the electrical sockets and the fuse or circuit breaker box. If the electrical system looks older, ask if they have modern or knob and tube wiring. Besides the question of age, knob and tube wiring is likely not as reliable, especially with the expected usage in a modern home. You will also want to keep an eye out for obvious violations such as exposed wiring.
You will also want to check the age and condition of the furnace. Gas-fired furnaces in particular can be extremely dangerous if any problems arise, so if there is any question you may want to have it checked by a professional.
Some types of older plastic plumbing are now known to be defective and leak easily. Check exposed pipes, such as under the sink, to see if they are grey, in which case they will need to be replaced. The drains and toilets should work properly, without any chugging noises. Also make sure to check the water heater for signs of rust or damage, and make sure that any water supply pipes are copper.
Poor grading in which water doesn’t run away from the house, or gardens with heavy watering right up against the house walls, are both important to be aware of but shouldn’t necessarily be deal breakers. Check the basement or lower floors for signs of cracks or water damage. There should not be any settling.
Finally, watch the homeowners or agents that you’re dealing with. If they seem to be rushing the deal or raise any other suspicion, listen to your instincts.