What to look for when buying a home: From a home inspector’s perspective

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When buying a home, it’s not just the price of the home you have to consider, but also the price of probable repairs that might come with your new purchase. At Advanced Group Property Inspection, our certified inspectors are trained to inspect your property and find any probable areas of your property that might cause you a major financial cost immediately or in near future, or even areas that might need attention so they won’t cause you a major costs later on. Even though our inspectors are not in the business of repairs, as part of their training, they learn how to estimate costs of major repairs of a property with current market conditions and labor costs, and refer you to the right professional that conducts those repairs for accurate quotes. As a home buyer it is very important to know how much a property would cost to you with cost of repairs included in the final price. Having a property inspection is an invaluable way of knowing critical defects in your property which puts you at an advantage when negotiating with the seller. Even if your intended to purchase property has recently been remodeled, and you think the sellers has taken care of all the renovations and defects, having a property inspection will assure you the piece of mind that all the repairs were done properly and not just a quick fix just to cover up the defects.

Want to know what a property inspection covers, and how it could help you to save money and be a leveraging point on the negotiation table, check our residential property inspection service.

Anatomy of a home

Your home has different sections, and each section usually has common defects and items to be concerned about. We have broken down a home inspection into these 12+1 categories:

  1. Exterior
  2. Plumbing
  3. Air Conditioning and Cooling
  4. Roof
  5. Bathrooms
  6. Kitchen
  7. Electrical
  8. Heating
  9. Garage
  10. Interior
  11. Attic Areas
  12. Foundation, Basement, and Under-floor Areas
  13. Pool/Spa (if applicable)

 

Exterior

Questions to Ask Yourself:
Is your property on a hillside or flat?
Are there Issues with proper drainage/grading?

Common Defects:
Cracks on stucco walls: It’s very rare to see stucco without cracks. Most of the time, these are cosmetic, and do not impede on structure of the property. Don’t fret.
Cracked walkways & driveways: Like stucco you’d really have to find the world’s expert in pouring concrete to lay a crack-free driveway. Learn to live with it.

Items of Concern:
The presence of improper grading: Apparent when the soil is high at the foundation.
The absence of drainage pipes: Their function is to move water away from the home.
Sprinklers & vegetation near the home: This can result in water intrusion that triggers mold/mildew/termite infestation & subsequent deterioration of the foundation.
Retaining walls to close to property: These walls act as the boundary to your fort, requiring proper drainage and engineering to protect your property.

 

Plumbing

Questions to Ask Yourself:
Are there any old/leaky pipes?
Does your plumbing system need upgrade?

Common Defects:
Older Pipes: Older homes, have older pipes – obviously. Notice, that these systems may function just fine, but need to be monitored readily. Old pipes have a tendency to crack and leak without warning.

Items of Concern:
Galvanized Piping: Common in homes built before the 70’s these pipes only have a 30-40 year lifespan. Considering we’re in the second decade of Y2K, all galvanized systems require upgrade starting yesterday.
Water Heaters: 90% of these guys have installation defects, and when considering their power & function; whether big or small — all defects involving a water heater require attention.

 

Air Conditioning and Cooling

Questions to Ask Yourself:
Does your air compressor function?
Are you getting cool air?

Common Defects:
Dirty Air Filter: Human beings are lazy, so to avoid A/C issues caused by a dirty air filter, simply mutate into another species to begin changing your filter regularly.
Air Distribution: have you ever been to house that requires you wear a tank top in one room, and thermals in the other? Really? Lucky you. If you ever do, let them know they’ve got issues with their air distribution. Common & harmless, until it creates sibling rivalry.

Items of Concern:
Installation of Compressor: Must be mounted level, property strapped and grounded. It’s also important to note the use of proper sized fuses and wiring. Rule of thumb, most residential units last 15-20 years.

Roof


Questions to Ask Yourself:
What type of roof do you have?
Are there any visible roof leaks?

Common Defects:
Exposed Nails, Missing Shingles or Cracked Tiles: Imaging driving in the rain with your sunroof open. Not cool right? Well if you don’t cover and seal the nails that hold your roof down, replace missing shingles or repair cracked tiles – water will spill into your dash, I mean your house.

Items of Concern:
Installation of Roof: Depending on the architecture of your home, a particular roof material is required. Pairing roof types with overall design is pivotal. Not to mention the installation of sheet metal at valleys, roof edges and pipe penetrations.

Bathrooms


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Do your fixtures work properly?
Do you have consistent water flow?

Common Defects:
Cracked Floor Tiles: If you like tiles then get used to liking cracks. Welcome to California.
Runny Water in Toilet: You know that really annoying sound certain toilets make? Almost like they’re slowly lulling themselves into a flushing fatality. Well it’s both common & harmless; but extremely wasteful.

Items of Concern:
Plumbing Leaks below Sink: While floors in bathrooms are usually made of tile, cabinets are made of wood. Combine wood, with water and darkness — you get mold. Avoid the headache in general, by making sure the plumbing pipes below the sink don’t leak.

Kitchen


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Do your appliances run properly?
Does your range need an igniter?

Common Defects:
Old Appliances: Just because everything is stainless steel, doesn’t mean it’s new anymore. In other words, old appliances typically don’t function well. Keep your eye out for imposters.
Lack of Outlets/Circuits: I have a feeling that back in the day there really weren’t as many persuasive British guys selling blenders and pasta makers at 3AM on channel 14. It’s obvious by the amount of kitchens we see lacking the outlets and power we so require from our 4th George Forman mega grill/skillet/bbq/oven/lawnmower combo.

Items of Concern:
Plumbing Leaks below Sink: While floors in kitchens are usually made of tile, cabinets are made of wood. Combine wood, with water and darkness — you get mold. Avoid the headache in general, by making sure the plumbing pipes below the sink don’t leak.

Electrical


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Has your wiring been updated recently?
Do all of your outlets function?

Common Defects:
Lack of GFCI: You know the red & black buttons you play with (as a kid of course) in the middle of certain outlets in the house? Those are called GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) & they need to be present in all areas with possible water intrusion.

Items of Concern:
Panel Installation: Whether it be issues with grounding, doubled up wires, load or improper sized circuits, all issues pertaining to the main panel are serious & must be evaluated by a qualified electrician.
Any minor electrical defect can become a serious fire hazard. So please be proactive.

Heating


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Does your furnace work?
Are you getting hot air?

Common Defects:
Dirty Air Filter: Human beings are lazy, so to avoid heating issues caused by a dirty air filter, simply mutate into another species to begin changing your filter regularly.
Air Distribution: have you ever been to house that requires you wear a tank top in one room, and thermals in the other? Really? Lucky you. If you ever do, let them know they’ve got issues with their air distribution. Common & harmless, until it creates sibling rivalry.

Items of Concern:
Installation of Furnace: From clearance issues to venting & cracked fireboxes to carbon monoxide leakage, mal-installation of a furnace can lead to serious safety hazards. Defects pertaining to the furnace are serious & must be evaluated by a qualified heating specialist.
Recalled Furnaces: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides a list of all recalled furnaces. To check if a particular model has been recalled visit www.cpsc.gov for a detailed list.

Garage


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Does your garage door operate?
Do you have firewalls?

Common Defects:
Lack of Auto-Sensors: It’s known that garage doors tend to close slow enough that any healthy teenager could both push the button and run right through. But to avoid watching a grown man eat concrete in proving to his wife that he’s “still got it”, go ahead and install the sensor that retracts the door automatically upon crossing.

Items of Concern:
Electric Issues: Open junction boxes & improperly installed service wires entering the garage are all both major fire hazards. Such is the case with all things electrical.
Fire Walls and Fire Doors: Housing the automobile, a garage is a very dangerous room when it comes to potential fires. Fire walls and doors serve as protection to the home and are a MUST in any home with attached garage.

Interior


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Doors, windows, flooring, stairs?
Do you have adequate smoke detectors?

Common Defects:
Minor Cracks on Walls, Worn Flooring: 3 out 5 buyers admit to changing the floors and repainting the walls within 3 months of moving into their new home. Binge on some HG TV and ask Sally to roll up her sleeves. Now’s the time to buy that solar powered paint roller on QVC.

Items of Concern:
Sloped/Uneven Flooring: Indicates cracks and settlement at the foundation. This is an interior problem that requires attention from a qualified structural engineer.
Water Stains on Ceiling: These act as the best indicator of roof/plumbing leaks.
Stairways: Uneven steps and improper installation of hand rails are a major safety hazard.

Attic Areas


Questions to Ask Yourself:
Is your attic insulated?
Do you have any separated roof rafters?

Common Defects:
Old Water Stains: Don’t let yesterday’s problems distract you from today’s glory. Old water stains indicate a prior defect that was likely resolved.
Lack of Insulation: Unless you like paying higher utility bills to the city, go ahead and add some insulation to your attic to avoid loss of hot air in the winter & cold air in the summer.

Items of Concern:
Sagging/Separated Roof Rafters: A structural defect that requires immediate remedy.
Electrical: From improper wiring to open junction boxes, any and all electrical defects are considered fire hazards. Do what you can do avoid the famous chime “The roof, the roof, the roof is one fire…”
Rodent Activity: Mice & rats have a tendency to chew through electrical wires & bring with them waste & disease. Remember, Ratatouille was a Disney movie based around a fictional character. If you hear or see pests in the attic, call pest control.

Foundation, Basement, and Under-floor Areas


Questions to Ask Yourself:
What type of foundation do you have?
Is your home bolted?

Common Defects:
Minor Cracks: Cracks up to a 2″ deep are quite common, and tend to reflect natural settlement to the foundation.
Moisture Stains: These occur due to lack of proper grading, missing gutters and sprinkler overspray.
Old Water Stains at Sub-Flooring: Typically seen in the kitchen & bathroom areas, if dried out and relative dated, represent a prior defect that was likely resolved

Items of Concern:
Major Cracks/ Settlement: Requires immediate attention & further evaluation by a structural engineer.
Lack of Bolts: Invented in 1937, foundation bolts provide seismic safety limits movement in the case of an earthquake.
Non-Reinforced Cripple Walls: Provides added support to the overall structure of the foundation, and can prevent the shift and fall off of a home in the case of an earthquake.

 

What’s Next?

To schedule your property inspection please fill our inspection request form and we will get in touch with you within 24hours to accommodate your inspection.

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