The home shopping process can be long and daunting. Seeing several homes in a single day may wear you out but don’t let it keep you from paying attention to the details and looking for some warning signs telling you to move on to the next home.
Things like foundation problems, mold and termite damage are sometimes difficult to spot but incredibly expensive to repair. Rather than spend a couple hundred bucks on a home inspection and waste a few weeks interested in a home you don’t have the time to repair, learn how to spot these expensive fixes and know when to move on.
Foundation problems are one of the most expensive fixes to your home. Because a sinking foundation can throw off the alignment of the entire home, it usually involves digging several feet below the foundation and jacking the home into place and then pouring a pad of concrete to hold things up.
When you’re touring a possible home, the following may be signs of a sinking or weak foundation.
- Bulging floors
- Cracked walls (especially around doors)
- Gaps around doors and windows
- Cracked bricks or large un-grouted spaces between bricks
Mold and water damage are costly and potentially dangerous on their own, but are also is a telltale sign of improper sealing or drainage. Check the following areas specifically for water stains and moisture as signs of potential water damage like stains or weak and swollen drywall.
- Around windows and doors
- Around the dishwasher and refrigerator
- In the laundry room
- In the bathroom around the toilet and shower
- In the basement around the base of the walls
Check for mold in similar areas, especially the basement. But remember that all houses have some type of mold. However, you can use water damage and mold as a negotiation tool to lower the price so you can have it professionally treated or seal the foundation before you move in.
Termites are one of the most common causes of expensive home repairs. Except for the northernmost states, most of the country is in at least a moderate risk zone for termite damage and you should keep this in mind when shopping for a new home. Look for the following signs that termites are feasting on your potential future home.
- Lines or fissures may appear near the surface of the wood
- What may look like dust or dirt collecting at the base of a piece of wood can sometimes be small wood shavings from termite damage.
- Generally look for wood that looks weak, i.e. visible holes or damage
Knock on wood you’re suspicious of. Chances are termites have already destroyed it if it sounds hollow or cracks on contact. Even if your home seems to be safe, once you move in take the right steps to prevent an infestation.
Although no home will be perfect, keep these tips in mind so you don’t waste money and time on a home inspection or even worse purchase a home and then find out there’s a $5,000 foundation problem. Even if you don’t spot these problems, a home inspection is well worth the money to check for a number of other problems and confirm you’re making a solid investment.