Are you planning to buy a home without a professional home inspection? The situation may not be ideal, but it might be necessary. In a hot market, you don’t always have time to wait for an inspection.
These tips for a DIY home inspection can give you some peace of mind before you make a purchase.
Start on the outside of the home and take a look at the foundation – Look for and inspect significant cracks or deterioration. If the basement is unfinished, you can continue the search on the inside while also looking for any signs of water penetration.
Keep in mind that nearly every home will have foundation cracks. The question is, are they superficial or do they pose a risk to the structural integrity of the foundation or possible water penetration? Signs of water penetration could include efflorescence (a white powder-like substance) which is the remaining calcium and minerals left behind after water evaporates, staining, mould, etc.
Your windows and doors should keep the outside elements out of your home. In order to do that, they need strong locks and seals. Make sure the mechanics and locking mechanisms are working, and that they open and close properly. Inspect the seals on the inside of the windowpanes and the caulking on the outside of the windows to make sure they’re in good shape.
Dry and cracked caulking is a relatively low costing and/or easy fix. However, it could result in water penetration so take a quick glance to see if there are any signs of it.
You probably don’t spend much time staring at ceilings. But in your DIY home inspection, you should. Check the ceiling for signs of water damage or cracking. If you notice any spots that look wet, be sure to ask about them.
Look at all of the ceilings for previous leaks or repairs. Stains, discoloration and sloppy repairs often stand out like a sore thumb. Look in kitchen cabinets and under bathroom vanities to see if there are any signs of leaks from water lines or drains. If you do come across something, using a moisture meter could tell you if it’s old and repaired problem or active and of concern. Always have your Realtor ask for details too.
You can also spot potential problems by looking for signs of ceiling repair. Is the paint brighter in one spot than another? Ask the homeowner about any places in the ceiling that appear to have been repaired.
You can tell a lot about a home’s plumbing by looking under the sinks. Check for any current leaks by running the water and looking at the pipes. Any signs of water damage could be an indicator of a prior leak.
Attics aren’t always the most accessible areas in a house but if you’re able to pop your head into it, it’s worthwhile! Keep your eyes open for discoloration on the underside of roof sheathing (typically plywood). This could be mold, which is usually attributed to water penetration or a lack of air flow. Mold remediation is often easier than you think but getting expert advice is always a great idea.
You will also want to measure how deep the insulation is. The closer to R60 (approximately 16 inches) you are, the better. The older the home, the lower the building code requirements were at the time of construction so it’s common to see numbers in the 5 to 8-inch range also. If this is the case, you may want to consider having more insulation blown in to make sure you’re not wasting energy.
Some tools can give you valuable information about a home. Use an outlet tester to make sure all the outlets are connected and working well. To check for water damage, use a moisture detector. It can alert you to leaks or spots that could be ideal for mold growth. And finally, use a laser measure to verify that the rooms are all the right size. Make sure the home has the square footage that it claims to have.
In E90 and E91 of #KTQuickTips we discuss our top tips for buyers considering to prepare an offer to purchase real estate without a home inspection.
In a competitive real estate market, you may consider waiving the option to complete a home inspection in order to make your offer more attractive. If this is the case, make sure you consider this beforehand.
You don’t need to give up on your home because of bad results from your DIY inspection. Instead, you can use your results to help you get a better deal on the house. Or, use it to learn more about the problems from the owner.