Is This Your New Home Sweet Home?
Once you've found the perfect home, you'll want to try to assess how well the property has been maintained over time, carefully review all property disclosure documents and do a more thorough examination of the property for any hidden surprises. Hiring a home inspector who has extensive credentials is generally considered a wise move.
A home inspection should include a thorough review of:
- Structural elements: construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof, foundations
- Exterior evaluation: elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, fascia, trim, doors, windows, lights, and exterior receptacles
- Roof/Attic: framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing, and gutters
- Plumbing: identify pipe materials for potable, drain, waste and vent pipes as well as condition of toilets, showers, sinks, faucets, and traps
- Systems and components: water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, fireplace and sprinklers
- Electrical: main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures
- Appliances: dishwasher, range/oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal and smoke detectors
- Garage: slab, wall, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights receptacles, exterior, windows and roof
You'll also want to know what isn't included in the home inspection. Some areas frequently not included in the inspection, or included only at a cursory level are:
- Radon, methane, radiation, formaldehyde
- Wood-destroying organisms
- Mold, mildew, fungi
- Rodent presence
Many home buyers have found talking to prospective neighbors quite enlightening. Not only can you learn more about the neighborhood and get a feel for who may be your future neighbors, but sometimes these interactions can provide valuable information including why the house is on the market, prior issues with the house (flooding/leaks, repeated pest infestations, illegal drug use/production) as well as general information about the neighborhood such as whether there are problems with vandalism and theft, high homeownership turnover, high level of rental properties, or local issues that may impact your interest (plans for a new road or shopping center, etc.).
Another frequently overlooked source of information may be your insurance company. For instance, if you are looking in an area that is prone to earthquakes or flooding, they should be able to tell you if the specific area has a higher than average level of claims which may impact your insurance premium and whether special insurance riders would be required for coverage. They may also be able to tell you if your premiums would be impacted by a higher incidence of claims due to theft and vandalism