If you're in the market for a new home, you want to make sure you aren't buying someone else's problems. Most people aren't going to volunteer negative information about their homes, especially if those problems are going to be expensive to repair. Before you buy your next home, take the time to do some precautionary investigations. Here are four steps you should take each time you tour a home.
Check for Drain Problems
Minor drain problems aren't that difficult to fix. However, major issues such as root damage or collapsed sewer lines can be expensive to repair. You can identify potential problems by running water through each of the drains. Starting at the front of the house, turn the water on and allow it to fill the sink. Watch to see how quickly the water drains. If all the sinks drain quickly, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. If all the sinks drain slowly, or some don't drain at all, there may be a clog—or damage—in the main line.
Open All the Windows
When it comes to buying a home, you want to make sure that the windows all open properly. If you've found a house that you like, take the time to open each of the windows. As you're opening them, take note of any windows that don't open, or that get stuck midway. If all the windows stick, they may need to be replaced.
Look for Foundation Damage
Foundation damage can be difficult to identify. However, if you pay attention to a few key areas of the home, you can find out. First, open all the doors. If they don't open, or if they swing shut, the foundation might have shifted under them. Second, look at the walls around the door jambs. If you see hairline cracks in the walls radiating out from the doors, the home has probably shifted on its foundation.
Inspect the Fireplace
If the home has a fireplace, you want to make sure that it's safe to use. The first thing you should do is look inside the firebox—the area where the fire will be. Look for any cracks in the wall. If you see cracks, you won't be able to use the fireplace until the damage is repaired. Having an active fire in a damaged firebox could cause a house fire. If you don't see any damage, ask the owners if they have maintenance records for their fireplace. If the fireplace hasn't been properly maintained, you should ask to have it inspected.
Now that you're looking for a new home, use the tips provided here to identify potential problems. For other helpful ways to identify problems, talk to your realtor.