Congratulations! Your offer has been greenlit by the seller and soon enough you will join the ranks of proud homeowners. After making a few phone calls and preparing the necessary dossier, it is time to move on to the next phase: inspecting the home to ensure everything is all right.
If you have been a renter all your life and never owned a home before, you probably have no idea what exactly you should look for since landlords usually take care of everything.
But now, you need to make sure that everything is in order before making a permanent commitment. As daunting as they might seem, home inspections become much less challenging if you know what to look for.
Without further ado, here are three DIY inspection tips for new homeowners.
Inspecting the Plumbing System
The first and most important aspect to inspect is that one thing that can cause the least visible issues: the plumbing system.
Overlooking plumbing problems can slowly turn an innocently leaking pipe into an all-out flood disaster that can affect the structural integrity of the home itself. So, to save thousands of dollars in future home repairs, you could instead follow our advice below.
First off, make sure that faucets, fittings, fixtures, toilet, and shower are in top shape. Start by looking at the floor around the fixtures, under the sink, and at other less obvious places for any old traces of water damage, as these could be potential telltale signs of the worst things to come.
Even if the seller assures you that the leaks have been fixed, a wise thing to do is checking if the floorboards are rotting.
The fittings are important too, since they ensure that the pipes are properly connected, so you want to look for any old signs of rust and corrosion.
If you want to delve deeper into the subject of pipe fittings, check out this related article on plumbing fittings types for more information on the top 11 fittings by function that can be found in a home.
Furthermore, check if the pipes are properly insulated, as frozen pipes can cause a lot of headaches, such as leaks (which gradually add up into a hefty water bill), pipe breakage, and water stoppage.
There are two ways to ensure that the pipes are insulated: see if the vents can be shut down in excessively low temperatures or verify if the pipes are wrapped into an insulation material.
Other plumbing-related issues that you want to look for:
- Check if your home is connected to a municipal sewer or a septic system
- Find the location of the water meter. If you plan any plumbing repairs, you will need to find this first to shut off the house’s water supply.
- Check if any pipes contain lead.
The next thing on your list should be your new home’s electrical system. Here are a few basic things you can check out for yourself without the help of an electrician:
- Overhead wires. If your house is powered by overhead wires, make sure the lines are not tangled between tree branches.
- To test the outlets, you should buy a dedicated outlet tester. These devices are quite cheap (around $5), and they will help you verify if the non-GFCI outlets in your home are GFCI protected.
- Verify the cover plates as these prevent accidental shocks. All outlets, switches, and electrical and junction boxes should be equipped with cover plates.
- Look for any improperly sealed wires because they pose an immediate electrocution risk.
- Look for openings in electrical boxes and electric panels.
The next aspect you can check for yourself is related to the foundation and the overall structure of the house. These are quite easy to spot, and if you see any abnormalities, bring them up with the seller and ask whether they are covered by insurance or whether you will be reimbursed.
When it comes to the exterior, structure, and foundation, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the roof decaying or patching? Is the chimney in good condition? Are the gutters properly orientated to efficiently drain water?
- Is the visible foundation in good shape?
- Is there any evidence of standing water?
- Is the roof visibly patched?
- Does the house have bow or bay windows?
- Does the house look like it will need immediate repairs?
As for the interior, here are a few basic things you should watch out for in a new home:
- Improper insulation;
- Any strange smells coming from the basement;
- Water pressure is too low to ensure comfort;
- Any stains on the roof, floor, and walls;
- Signs of mold in hidden corners;
- Floorboards out of shape or rotten;
- The layout of the house doesn’t ensure proper airflow and ventilation;
- Doors and windows that do not operate properly without additional tinkering;
- An AC system that is not functional or up to local codes.
These are the aspects that you can easily inspect on your own when buying a new home. For anything else, or if you have any doubts, you should hire a specialist.
Home inspections can be a daunting task, and even seasoned homeowners can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of factors one has to take into account when buying a new home.
However, if you know what and where to look for, this task becomes much easier. If you are about to buy a house or you have already been through the process and want to do an inspection, read through our tips and you will get all the information you need.
With an educational background in Engineering Design and growing experience in home improvement and DIY projects, Vince is part of the team behind www.ThePlumbingInfo.com. You can see more of Vince’s work on Twitter and Facebook.