Buyer Beware: The Home Hunter's Check List

Purchasing a new house can be a stressful experience. But armed with the right knowledge, buyers can eliminate risk before making a down payment.

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012  |  Updated 3:15 PM EDT
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Buyer Beware: The Home Hunter's Check List

Torres

A damaged roof is one of the first things you should look for when considering buying a new home.

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This article is sponsored by Michael & Son, the leading full-service plumbing, electrical, HVAC and remodeling company serving the Washington D.C. area for over 30 years. Learn more about Michael & Son at MichaelandSon.com.

Real estate listings tend to multiply in the spring. But before you put a down payment on a new house, there are a few things you should consider first. From the roofline to the garbage disposal, here are a handful of details you should focus on during your home hunt.

Let's start outside since a home's exterior plays such a large role in what happens inside. Damaged gutters and leaky roofs can wreak havoc on your nest, so keep an eye peeled as soon as you step out of the car.

Roof: You can leave the ladder alone, but look for sags or dips in the roofline as well as hanging shingles. If you eyeball a potential problem, make a mental note to check for leaks once you're through the front door.

Windows: Not only are cracks or chipped framing critical to keep an eye on, but make sure all windows have working locks and screens.

Porches and decks: A solid foundation is key to the longevity of a supported outdoor area. Make sure the wood on all porches and decks isn't rotting.

Walkabout: Before heading inside, take a step back to examine the property from a distance. Would water drain away from the home? If not, how sturdy is the foundation? Make sure to give the lot a 360-degree inspection.

Once you've assessed the outside, it's time to head indoors and get granular. Start from the ground up (aka the basement) and keep an eye out for details.

Basement: Just because it's the home's one uninhabited area doesn't mean that the basement isn't critical to the overall health of your abode. There's a litany of things to look out for, including: The foundation walls (check for cracks and other damage), rotting in the floor joist, proper inspection stickers on the water heater, exposed wires on the electrical panel (a definite no no) and leaky pipes.

Living room: You've already inspected windows for cracks and proper locks. Now it's time to see how much insulation they provide, so listen for noise from the outside. Also, check the floors and ceiling for any sloping, which could indicate a plumbing problem.

Kitchen: Check all appliances for leaks or other irregularities and don't give the garbage disposal a free pass.

Bathrooms: Though small, the bathroom is the most heavily used room in the house. Inspect for wear and tear like cracks in the base of the toilet (make sure to flush several times), leaky shower heads and faucets and consistent water temperatures. Also, poke your head under the sink to look for any problems.

Attic: Finally, take a closer look at the roof from the top floor of the home. Check for leaks, rotten wood and proper insulation.

The most important part of a home inspection is to take your time. Open all doors, check all switches and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, a home is most likely the largest investment you’ll ever make so you’ll want to make sure everything is in order. Make sure to take a check list, flashlight and small multi tool along. Equipped with the right knowledge, a home inspection can be a quick, fulfilling and even empowering experience.

For more homeowner tips, visit Michael & Son.

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