Open houses and listing photos are designed to accentuate a home’s positive features. But making a smart home purchase requires buyers to look beyond the gorgeous landscaping and perfectly staged furniture.
Evaluating the exterior of a home is crucial to your wallet and your future happiness. Carefully examine a home’s exterior for the following costly problems, and don’t ever skip a professional home inspection if you decide to make an offer.
Windows and doors are designed to seal a home from outside air and moisture. But window and door quality can vary widely from home to home. Be on the lookout for the following flaws:
- Improper seals: Can you feel a draft when the window or door is closed? Is daylight showing through any cracks in the seal? Small gaps can usually be filled with weather stripping or expandable foam, but larger holes may necessitate window or door replacement.
- Rotten sills/door jambs: Rotten window sills or door jambs can be replaced fairly easily. Of greater concern is the reason behind the rot. Windows and doors should always be adequately protected from moisture (by gutters, water-resistant finishes and quality paint). Try to determine why rot is present and how difficult of a fix is in order.
A roof that looks OK to you may be full of deficiencies that can only be identified by an experienced inspector. Make sure to have the roof professionally inspected, and look for the following warning signs in the meantime:
- Water spots on the ceiling: Check every part of a home’s interior ceiling for water damage, including closets, utility rooms and garages.
- Uneven surface: Take a look at the roof from several different angles. Do you see any obvious buckling or uneven spots? Are all shingles present and in good condition?
Siding can be host to all kinds of problems, from mildew and cracks to rot. Get up close and personal with a home’s exterior walls, with an eye for these particular concerns:
- Vinyl: Check for mildew, mold or cracks in the vinyl pieces. Mildew and mold can be easily removed, but cracks may require patching with a new vinyl plank.
- Wood: To keep its classic beauty, wood siding needs to be properly maintained. Is the paint peeling? Are there signs of rot or decay? Are any clapboards missing?
- Stucco: Some types of stucco can trap moisture between the stucco and the wood framing. Over time, mold and rot can develop. It’s tough to identify trapped moisture with the naked eye, so make sure to have stucco examined by a professional.
Gutters are essential tools for protecting soffits, siding, foundations and basements from water damage. Watch for these signs of gutter failure:
- Cracks/detachment: Are gutters cracked? Are they drooping away from the roof or tightly affixed?
- Mildew: Check the siding for a trail of mildew. Mildew striping is often the result of gutter cracks that allow water to drain down the siding.
- Water pooling: Examine the ground close to the house for water pooling. Splashes of mud on the side of the house may be evidence of a serious gutter problem.
How to handle problems
Buyers have several options if problems are discovered with a home’s exterior. If you still want to purchase the property, get estimates for needed repairs. You can either ask the seller to make repairs or to discount the home price so you can get the repairs done.
If problems are too overwhelming, continue your home search. Homes in poor condition will have trouble passing the VA appraisal. Plus, repairs often take longer and cost more than homebuyers originally assume. Rest assured that another home out there is a better fit for you.
Photo courtesy of DDohler