When you buy a home, if you don't look it over well you may be due for some unpleasant surprises. You'll want to have a home inspector visit, but there are some things you can look for on the first visit. Sometimes repairs or upgrades may be acceptable if you're getting a good deal, but you want to be aware of any issues. Here are five important things to inspect.
If you move in and discover there's blockage between the drains and the sewer lines or septic tank, you could be in for an ugly, smelly mess along with expensive repairs. At least partially fill up each sink and tub, then let them all drain at once. If all or any of them drain slowly, there could be a problem.
If the home has a fireplace, you'll want to be sure the chimney and ventilation are in good shape, otherwise you could be looking at fire risk or poisonous carbon monoxide backing up into the home. Use a mirror and a flashlight if necessary, but start a small fire and open the flue, then observe to see that the smoke vents completely.
Check that the HVAC works as it should, and hire a reliable plumbing and heating company to find any problems. You want to feel both warm and cool air come out the vents promptly and strongly, depending on how you set the thermostat. It's also important to see that the HVAC system is able to regulate itself at the temperature you set. Check the system for dirty filters or leaks. If any of these are unsatisfactory, you may need a heating repair technician to do an inspection.
Many people drink bottled water or filtered water if they have installed a water filtration system at home. However, good water is still important for laundry, bathing, and cooking. Fill a clear glass and check that the water is not cloudy, discolored, or full of particles. Sip a little to be sure there's no odd taste. If you find problems, you may need to install a whole-house filter or upgrade the plumbing before it's safe.
Warping or brown water stains in the drywall might mean a leaky roof, bad plumbing, and possibly hidden mold. Water stains around the toilet could indicate a bad seal or frequent over-flowing. Be sure there's no suggestion of dampness under sinks, and especially in the basement. Cracks in the foundation could lead to flooding and serious structural problems.
Some things are relatively cheap to fix, but they could also mean more serious problems. When in doubt, call a professional to get an estimate on how much these repairs could cost you.