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6 DIY house inspection tips

Posted on 18 July 2016

Buying a house is a huge investment and an even bigger decision, so don't cut corners by not getting a professional house inspection done. But even before you enlist the help of the professionals, there are plenty of ways you can do your own homework during an open inspection to either crown a potential winner or write off a lemon.



1 - Look beyond the layout

When looking around a house, keep reminding yourself that you're not just thinking about where to put the couch, whether your fridge will fit into the space and how far the bathroom is from the main bedroom. The most important thing to know is that the building itself is sound.

Do you see any water stains on the walls or other signs of potential damp or leaks? Are the ceilings sagging? Open cupboards to see if there are signs of mould or that familiar and dreaded 'damp' smell. Give any wood a bit of attention and pressure - is it rotten to the core?

2 - What to look for in cracks

If you're looking at an older house for the character appeal, don't baulk at the tiniest of cracks as it doesn't necessarily indicate a structural issue. But if any of those cracks are several millimetres wide, or if there are cracks literally all over the house, alarm bells should definitely start ringing.

Also, ask yourself: has the house been recently painted? Is that to make it look nice or to cover up some freshly-filled, major cracks?

3 - Look up and beyond

How often have you looked at the roof during an open inspection? Probably not often enough, particularly when replacing the entire roof is one of the most expensive of all the necessary home renovations. One easy check is to make sure the geometric lines of the roof are straight, as anything else could indicate big trouble. Similarly, open and close doors within the house, because if they stick, there could be a problem with building subsidence.

Also, check the gutters for rust, because if it's excessive, that can be a major hidden cost and a nuisance when it comes to replacing them.

4 - Check the water

You're going to be living in it, so don't be shy to turn on the taps. Is the water pressure adequate to keep you happy with showers for the next several years? Also take note of how well the water drains away, as this could be a sign of dodgy plumbing. Is the water visibly clean?

Now move your attention to the hot water. Is it steaming hot? Check the tank and system - is it big enough for your family? What is its condition, as changing a hot water system under some of the new, 'green'-minded government policies of today can be extremely expensive. And while you're checking the hot water, make your next stop the electricity box, because old houses in particular often mean old wiring.

5 - Ask about insulation

You might not fancy popping through the manhole, so ask the real estate agent about insulation, which is crucial for comfort and also the cost of heating and cooling. While you're at it, ask about internet coverage - is the house in an NBN-ready area, or are there plans for fibre in the works? If the agent doesn't have the answer, tell him you don't mind waiting while he checks.

6 - Signs of a DIY handyman

If you find yourself thinking 'the owner seems like a bit of a handyman', that might not be good news. While many people are capable when it comes to doing their own thing, remember that they are probably not qualified or sufficiently skilled, especially when it comes to important trades like plumbing and electricity.

Cutting corners with maintenance might also have been a cheap way for an investor to spruce up a property before sale, so make sure you're not being duped with poor quality workmanship that could be hiding deeper problems.

 

By Darel McBride

 

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