You’ve found the perfect house, located right near that cool new shopping area and the best schools. It even has the right number of bathrooms! Swoon. It’s time to sign the paperwork and move in … or is it?
Up until now, you’ve likely been blinded by the sparkling granite counters and the hardwood floors in every room. (Squee!) But before you blindly forge ahead, you’ll want to get a home inspection—and before that, you’ll want to check the house yourself for any red flags that might make an inspector tell you this particular piece of real estate could be more trouble than it’s worth. Check out these warning signs —and what they may take to fix (brace yourself).
1. Sewer issues
What to look for: You don’t have to tell us twice that a sewer issue can quickly turn into a stinky situation. Standing water in the yard, signs of flooding in the basement, and heaved walkways are telltale signs of a blockage or break in the underground sewer line that connects to the sewer main in the front of a home.
2. Faulty electrical system
What to look for: If the home that’s caught your eye was built before the ‘70s, you might have more than lingering shag carpet and wood paneling to worry about. Hazardous electrical wiring such as knob and tube wiring and aluminum branch circuit wiring are two of the biggest offenders that could put your home at risk of fire.
3. Foundation cracks
What to look for: Don’t worry about every little hairline or corner crack since for the most part they are caused by normal settling and are relatively easy to repair. But be aware of cracks that are a quarter-inch wide anywhere on the foundation or horizontal cracks, because these could mean a major repair.
4. Worn roofing
What to look for: The best way to confirm roof life is to go up on a ladder to check it out, of course, but there are ways you can speculate about a faulty roof by staying on solid ground. Check for water stains on the ceiling and roof tiles that look like they have seen better days.
5. Old pipes
What to look for: Turn on the faucet to see if the water pressure is low and to listen for gurgling: Either could indicate that your house has older galvanized piping or inadequate piping. You also should check exposed pipes for signs of corrosion (e.g., discoloration and flaking).