Buying a home for the first time usually includes several visits to many different properties in the area. A buyer wants to consider all options before making a final decision. After the third or fourth house, memories may start blending together, so it is a fantastic idea to take notes and even photos when you visit. If you see something about the house that stands out, something you passionately like or dislike, take a photo of it. This way, when you look back on what you thought of each home, you can remember them accurately.
There is a list of things to be on the lookout for inside of the house. You want to spot anything that may incur an extra cost – minor replacements or long-term work on the structure.
In the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and any other room with a sink, turn on the water to check pressure and drainage. Notice the color of the water and make sure it is not dirty. You may even want to leave it running for a bit and take a drink from the faucet to see how it tastes.
How is the hot water system? Is it large enough for you and or your family? Look for leaks, rust and signs of aging around the hot water system. If it is a gas heater, check when the last service date was. Replacing a hot water heater can be a pricey thing and is not something you want to put off.
Insulation in a house is vital to keeping the electricity bill low. Your heat and A/C will largely work in tandem with your house’s insulation to keep cold or hot air in and the nasty elements of outside out. Check for cavity wall insulation. To check these, you can take a quick tour of the manhole to get a clear idea.
Search the walls for significant cracks or doors that do not function entirely properly. Some doors will not close all the way or will not shut easily. Doors that stick can be a sign of subsidence which is extremely expensive to fix and is not normally covered by home insurance. Also, try to see if the house has been recently painted. This may just be in preparation for selling the house, but it also may mean that the seller is masking serious problems with paint. While you are checking this, ask yourself if you like the colors of the walls. It can be expensive and tiresome to repaint a house.
Make sure you get a close look at all walls and paintwork, even in dimly lit rooms. You do not want to overlook structural defects or signs of bubbling or peeling paint. Mold may be present on the walls, and is something you want to avoid as it is difficult to get rid of. It cannot simply be painted over and usually includes installing new walls and better ventilation. Watermarks, a funny smell, or damp walls are clues that the house has mold.
You might consider visiting the house on a rainy day to make sure the roof, walls and ceilings do not leak. Fixing this would be a costly undertaking and might not be something you are willing to deal with.
How do the windows of the house work? Do they slide open and closed easily? In the summer, if you want to open your windows, check to make sure they have screens that are in satisfactory condition. How is the wood around the windows? You want to check for rotting wood and make sure that wood does not feel soft to the touch. Checking for termites is also a smart idea as termites are not normally covered by house insurance. If you decide to purchase the house, you will want to hire a professional to come in and do an inspection of the house.
How is the storage space in the house? Look at the cabinets in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room. Check out the closets in each room and make sure they are not too small. You also want to consider the shape of the rooms. If a room is shaped too unusually, it will be difficult to furnish.
Check for outlets. You want enough outlets to meet your needs without having to install new ones around the rooms. Also, if they appear to be old-fashioned, you might want to ask how old the wiring is. Old-fashioned switches can be a sign that the house was wired long ago.
Make sure that there is a bathroom on both levels if you have bedrooms upstairs and downstairs. You will not want to have to go downstairs in the middle of the night. If you are a parent, you might also want your bedroom on the same level as your children.
In the bathrooms, you should check for cracked tiles or loose grout. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive rooms to renovate so look for holes in the floors and cracks that may let in bugs or vermin. Check the condition of plumbing and appliances in the bathrooms and kitchen.
Look at the floor coverings and if you want to renovate in the near future, look under the carpet to see if there is flooring underneath. Some people take cheap shortcuts to get their flooring in like stapling the carpet to the floor or using industrial glue to get the tiles to stick down. These things are hard to undue and expensive to fix.
Measure spaces in each room to make sure your appliances and furniture will fit. Notice what materials the cabinets, floors and walls are made of and if they look like they will last. Ignore the décor of the house and instead consider the layout. Look for problems like a ceiling that is too low or placement of rooms that will not function for your family.
Consider what your family’s needs are, and try to picture living there and going through a routine. If your family loves being in the kitchen, you may need a spacious kitchen. If you are going to have children in the near future, do you have extra bedrooms for them?
Remember to keep your head while searching for a house. It is easy to fall in love and forget to think logically through potential problems. Trust your first instinct of the home and consider your options to have a successful home buying experience!
Susan Hilton (979)764-2100
CENTURY 21 Beal, Inc.