Let’s face it, if a house has serious problems you want to find out before you buy it, not after. So you can make an informed decision about the property’s value. Here’s a list of serious issues to look for when you’re inspecting a house. It’s by no means exhaustive but if you find any of these faults it could be time to seek the advise of experts.
Doing cosmetic work on a home can be cost-effective and improve its value. But significant structural problems can be unsafe and dramatically reduce the value of a home. Look out for:
• Rising damp in walls
• Cracks and damp in the foundations and footings
• Large cracks in load-bearing walls
• Uneven or sloping floors
• Sagging ceiling or roof (look inside the ceiling)
• Any signs of termite activity
• Springy floor boards
Wiring really needs to be checked by a building inspector or qualified electrician but there are a few things you can look out for that can signal potential issues:
• Cracked, melted or broken switches or power points
• Scorching around power points
• Frayed insulation around built-in appliances like heaters, air con units and dishwashers
• Exposed wiring at heights children can reach
• Exposed bulbs in confined spaces like wardrobes and under stairs
• Rust or water in the circuit box
• Old wiring with no circuit breakers
• Electrical fittings that don’t work, such as CCTV, intercom, garage doors etc
Fortunately plumbing problems tend to stand out. Unfortunately they can be extremely expensive to rectify, especially if they haven’t been attended to promptly. Here are some things to check:
• The age of the pipes and what they’re made from (in particular, lead plumbing can be problematic)
• Rusted or blocked guttering and downpipes. Test them with a hose.
• Signs of water damage: damp smell, uneven plastering, patched holes or cracks
• Pools of standing water in the yard, around the foundations or on pathways
• Water pressure. Turn both hot and cold taps on at the same time and look for discoloured water or signs of blocked pipes.
Really Big Oh Ohs
We always recommend having homes examined by building inspectors, but there are some problems that really call for professional expertise.
• Asbestos. Usually found in older homes and particularly 60s style houses, asbestos can be harmful and logistically difficult to remove.
• Lead-based paints and pipes. These can be harmful in certain circumstances and especially with kids.
• Landfill. Make sure that if the house is built on is a former tip, land fill or an industrial site that it is stable and safe.
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