Real estate info & tips: Rule of thumb: Red flags are much more worrisome if found in a new house, and a lack of red flags is much more impressive in an old house. A properly conducted red flag inspection consists of three parts: 1. The exterior of the building and the surrounding grounds 2. The interior of the building and accessory structures, including retaining walls, detached garages, storage sheds, pools, and tennis courts 3. Environmental or safety hazards Begin by inspecting the outside of the building and the surrounding grounds. Stop at the curb and take a panoramic look at the house and surrounding property with a critical eye. Note the slope of the land and general appearance of the house. Does the house look like it is slightly slanted to one side? Are the roof's lines straight, and is the roof covering (wood shingles, tile, composition shingles, etc.) in good shape? Check for cracks in sidewalks, driveways, foundations, exterior walls, and the chimney. Are there any portions of the sidewalk and driveway tilted and/or missing? Be alert for drainage problems (pooling of water), unstable soils (soils being washed away), and unsafe conditions. Take a close look at any outbuildings (e.g., tool shed, detached garage, storage unit, pool house). Were building permits required for these outbuildings? Then take a close-up view of the surrounding property, including hazardous trees and vegetation. Also make note of a pond or lake in close proximity to a house or housing subdivision. A pond or lake will make the property look better to a prospective buyer and indicate a natural water level in the area. Go inside and inspect the interior of the house. Look for problems with floors, doors, windows, walls, stairways, and built-in systems such as the stove, furnace, fireplace, and storage areas. Inspect any accessory structures, such as a detached garage, storage shed, pool, spa, sauna, tennis court, or guest house. Don't forget to inspect the accessory structures with as much care as the rest of the property, and always inspect for any possible environmental or safety hazards that may be present.
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