Whether you’ve lived in the same residential community for years or you’re prepping to move to a new home, home inspections can tell you a lot about the state of a house. Here are a few important things that every home inspection — whether on your current home or on a home that you plan to move into — should cover. After all, even a small house is a large and complex piece of hardware from top to bottom, and there are many moving parts within it, so to speak. Metal, water, wood, carpets, concrete, bricks, glass, spray foam insulation, electrical wires, and more are all involved, and everything should be in good shape (and everything is prone to wear and tear or damage).
So, let us review some tried and true home inspection tips that will allow you to move into a fine home in any residential community. A secure, safe house might even yield tax benefits, and sell for a good price much later on when (and if) you put it on the real estate market. Before you launch into mortgage payments, make sure the property is worth those payments! Which home inspection tips stand out to the fore?
Don’t Neglect the Plumbing
This is not a topic to miss when it comes to home inspection tips. Bear in mind that close to 85% of home buyers who had a home inspection done had their inspector report at least one major issue, and plumbing issues can be a real hassle. Running water and plumbing dates back to the Roman Empire, and while today’s indoor plumbing is more advanced than anything the Romans had, pipes and faucets may still suffer from wear and tear, or damage. Many studies are done to track water usage and waste in the United States, and the numbers show that an enormous amount of water is lost across the nation each year. Don’t overlook a small leak on a bathtub faucet or a sink -even that can add up fast. And every year, close to one trillion gallons of water is lost because of all plumbing leaks in all American buildings when all added up. A house with leaks might lose as much as 90 gallons of water per day, and that may drive up the water bill a great deal. That’s like one or two extra showers’ worth of water that no one ever used.
So, be sure to check out all pipe fittings, faucets, water heater tanks, showerheads, toilets, and more for any rust, damaged gaskets, cracks or holes, and other issues. A plumber can be hired to look over a home’s plumbing, and they will know if a piece of hardware is very old, damaged, or clogged. The previous owner might have flushed something down the toilet that they should not have, such as baby diapers or moisturized hand towels, which do not break down like toilet paper will. Such items can cause a clog in a hurry. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the previous owner might have poured a lot of fat or oil down the drain, and that waste material can coat the pipes’ inner lining and harden like plaster. This is bound to cause blockages. Meanwhile, a house’s pipes may have expanded in winter when the water inside froze, and when the weather warmed up, they contracted and now have cracks in them. Lastly, take note that old plumbing hardware, even if it’s not damaged, it may be water inefficient.
So, home inspection tips may recommend the replacement of water-inefficient items, as well as repairing or replacing damaged and old pipes or tanks. An old toilet can be removed and a low-flow model put in its place, and home inspection tips may call for a new shower head or kitchen sink, too. Over time, these items may pay for themselves with all their water conservation.
Make Sure There’s Fire Protection
This is a major safety concern, and some home buyers or owners neglect it (at their own risk). Fire alarm installation is mandatory for buildings, speaking generally, but the fire protection services in your new home might be worn out or out of date. So, home inspection tips demand that you hire inspectors who will look over all fire-related hardware in the property. These professionals will locate all fire alarms and ensure that they have power and are in good working order, and recommend the replacement of damaged ones. New ones should be tested to ensure that they are ready for use.
On a related note, home inspection tips for fire include preparing emergency exits and fire extinguishers, since alarms don’t actually put the fire out. Once an alarm goes off, everyone in the house should be ready to evacuate through nearby windows and doors. This means looking over all windows and doors to ensure that they can be opened properly to serve as fire exits. Blocked, stuck, rusted, or painted-shut doors or windows should be addressed, or else they might trap a person inside. Also, locate a fire extinguisher and make sure that it has not expired, and replace it if it really is expired. If need be, teach children in the household how to locate and use the extinguisher properly, just in case. Should anyone suffer from mild burns, they may be taken to an emergency clinic or urgent care clinics in the area. Be sure to know where they are.
Pay Close Attention to the Kitchen
Let’s not forget the kitchen, which is one of the busiest rooms in the house. Most households include at least one adult or adolescent who cooks regularly, and these chefs should have a pleasant, safe, and practical place where they can use an oven, knives, blenders, and more. There’s a lot to cover, and that may start with storage for kitchen tools of all sorts. Look over all cabinets and drawers to make sure that you’ll have room for all knives, utensils, plates and cups, spice containers, flour bags, and anything else you’ll need to serve and prepare meals. A dinner engagement at your new house may be a wonderful experience for you and guests when the premises are fresh and up to date, and to that effect, many homeowners hire remodeling crews. While this is not absolutely vital, it can pay off well.
In some cases, the previous homeowner is the one who launched a recent remodeling project, and perhaps they hired workers to replace the countertop, sand down and repaint the cabinet doors, or fit in a new stove. Doing this will drive up the property’s value and asking price, but all this is attractive to many home buyers. Otherwise, home inspection tips may recommend that you perform any DIY kitchen projects that are within your expertise, such as replacing old or loose drawer handles or adding wallpaper. For more skill-intensive work, you can hire remodeling crews in the area to remodel the kitchen as your budget allows. This may involve removing and replacing floor tiles, changing the lighting fixtures, or as mentioned above, touching up cabinet doors or even replacing countertops. A fresh new sink may be added, as well as a new dishwasher. Someone who loves to cook will greatly value this investment in the kitchen for a practical and pleasant cooking environment. In fact, kitchens and master bathrooms are the two most popular rooms in a house for remodeling work.
Check on Electrical Systems
Home inspection tips cover many topics of the house, including items that you see and don’t see. One of the more mundane, but also vital topics, is the electrical wiring. This may be especially important for an older house, but any house could stand to have some professional electricians look the place over for any outstanding issues. It may be quite inconvenient to find light switches that don’t function, or find out that the heater or air conditioner doesn’t get enough power for proper climate control.
What might these outstanding issues be? For one thing, the house’s roof might have leaked rainwater recently, and dripping water has been known to short out electrical components in the wall and cause them to malfunction. Or, the wiring is worn out and hot metal wires are exposed, which may either fray and become useless, or pose a fire hazard. A fuse box might have issues, or the house may be prone to breakers flipping too often and causing a real hassle for everyone there. So, an electrician will spot and diagnose these issues, and effect any necessary repairs to restore a switch’s function or prevent the breakers from flipping too often. Outdated and worn down components may be replaced with new ones that are more efficient, and help the house save on its electric bill.
Speaking of the power bill, the HVAC system is a major way to either waste or save a lot of money. Take note that fully half of a typical house’s electricity goes toward climate control, and if the heating and cooling system is damaged or inefficient, that is going to become expensive in a hurry. Very old HVAC systems, such as those 20 years old or more, weren’t even built with modern power efficiency in mind and waste money even when working well. Dirty or damaged systems may struggle to produce enough cool or warm air, and they will be forced to work overtime to make up for that. This wastes a lot of electricity fast, such as if the vents are clogged with animal nests, or if the blower fans deep in the system are coated with grime and thus can’t produce enough air.
So, HVAC repair experts can clean off a dirty system and remove debris, and repair anything that has shorted out or become damaged. And if the entire system is very old and therefore inefficient and prone to constant problems, it can be replaced entirely. The up-front costs may be offset by extensive power savings in the coming years, and a fully functioning HVAC system will easily make the house as cool or warm as the owner wants it to be. Comfortable air makes for a comfortable house, after all, and a chilly or too-warm house may not be pleasant at all.
Inspect Retaining Wall Integrity
This may be a relatively minor topic, and some houses do not even have retaining walls on the property. But some do, and those walls count as much as any other hardware present. Retaining walls of any scale function as land dams, so to speak, and they can go a long way for landscaping purposes, and help save room on the lawn. Such walls are often made with bricks or stone, but they may have some loose bricks, or they are leaking or have weeds growing in or near them. If such issues are present, contact landscapers, who can repair and touch up any compromised retaining wall so that it can function at (and look) its best. Landscaping is not to be underestimated since it plays a large part in a property’s value and appeal. Often, investing just 5% of a property’s overall value in landscaping may yield an ROI (return on investment) as high as 150%.
Double Check Everything Else
The home inspection tips listed above cover most of the major issues that may be present in your new house, but there are a variety of other topics that may be of interest as well. After all, as mentioned earlier on, a house is a large and complex piece of hardware, and everything warrants your attention and care. What might we have missed up to this point?
Spray foam insulation, usually found in the attic on inside the walls, is not to be taken for granted. Such foam is vital for helping regulate the house’s temperature, and without it, warmth escapes too easily in winter and cool air leaks out in summer. This ties the foam in with the HVAC system and by extension, the electric bill, too. Look over the foam insulation and determine if some more needs to be sprayed in, and for small jobs, you may be able to handle this yourself when you buy the right gear. Larger jobs call for a professional crew. No matter what, whoever is spraying that foam should wear protection for their eyes, nose, and mouth since the airborne chemicals are harmful until they dry into foam.
Window and doors might be fairly old, and old windows and doors cause more issues than you may realize. Old windows and doors are warped and don’t fit well in their frames, and this allows air to leak through drafts (disrupting the climate control). Old doors and windows are also unattractive to look at, and they are fragile and may be easy for burglars to force their way in through. Hire crews to replace old windows and doors at once, and this is an opportunity to have double-paned Energy Star windows fitted in.
Lastly, look over the floorboards and check for creaky, damaged, or badly scratched boards. Don’t be afraid to hire floor experts to put in new materials to freshen up the house, and environmentally-friendly eucalyptus and bamboo models are available as well as hardwoods.