A Closer Look - Foundation Realty Team
Don't be fooled by fresh paint and a green lawn. You should be concerned with the more important, underlying condition of the property. In addition to hiring a home inspector, there are four areas that you can quickly check to determine if the home has serious problems.
Roof: The roof is one of the critical areas of the home - you don't want the rain coming in! Although fixing a roof isn't usually very expensive, if it's worn out and needs to be replaced it can be quite costly. A new roof can cost between $5,000 and $15,000 or more depending on the type.
A quick method to determine if the roof is leaking is to look in the attic; but don't climb into the attic yourself unless you know how to walk on joists. Don't risk stepping through the ceiling and injuring yourself, simply open the attic access panel and look inside.
With a flashlight, check the rafters. They should not show water stains. Any water stains indicate leaking. Next, with the flashlight off, look up at the roof. Any pinpoints of light shining through indicate a worn roof.
If either of these conditions exists, call in a professional roofer for a more thorough inspection.
Foundation: A cracked foundation is a serious matter. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. In severe cases, it may not be fixable.
Walk around the perimeter of the house looking at the peripheral foundation. Look for 'V' shaped cracks (larger at the top than at the bottom). These indicate serious problems. Also, look for extensive cracking of walls and ceilings in the house. Call in a structural engineer if you suspect a problem.
Piping: Avoid galvanized steel plumbing found in older homes. After 30 years or so it tends to rust out and leak. Replacements can cost $5,000 or more for a whole house.
Look at the pipe outlets near the water heater and at the pipe leading to water faucets on the outside of the home. Galvanized pipe is gray in color. Copper, the plumbing of choice these days because it rarely corrodes, sometimes has a greenish tinge if it has oxidized.
Call in a plumber to inspect the property if there's galvanized pipe.
Flooding: Sometimes homes are poorly situated on their lots. Other times there is underground water. This can cause flooding under the house, which can cause serious damage. Solutions may include something as simple as a sump pump or as extensive as expensive excavation.
In the basement, check for water stains on the foundation indicating flooding during rainy periods. If you find these, call in a soils engineer to confirm the problem and suggest solutions.