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Home inspections: 6 red flags

Ginger Dean

February 11, 2013

By: Ginger Dean, Home Finance Specialist

In:

Buying a home is an expensive venture. Once you have found the home of your dreams, you need to make sure it is actually as good as it looks. Retaining the services of a licensed professional home inspector is one of the most important things to do, since you will be relying on his or her findings. For starters, make certain that the person you hire is experienced.

6 essential targets of home inspections

Listed below are six items to look for in a home inspection that if not up to standard can cost you a lot of extra money down the road:

  1. Roof -- If you do not know anything about determining the age of a roof and go on its appearance, you may very well be fooled. Since the life expectancy of an average roof is between 15-20 years, this is not something to be overlooked. Replacing a roof is very expensive and not something a new home owner is prepared to pay for. An inspector knows where to look for possible leaks and what to look at. Curling or raised shingles can mean more than just a second layer; it can mean moisture.
  2. Insulation -- While most people overlook this in an inspection, having to re-insulate a new home is expensive in more than just the cost of supplies. If you leave it until you can afford it, you will end up paying more for both heating and cooling, along with possibly damaging the structure of the home.
  3. Foundation and home structure -- If there is a crack in the foundation or any other part of the structure, it could mean that the home has structural damage. Having to have the home raised in order to replace and correct the damage is a major expense.
  4. Electrical -- A licensed inspector understands that there are certain codes that must be met when it comes to electrical service. He will look for burned wires throughout the home and then check the circuit breaker to see that all circuits are functioning properly. All outlets and switches should be checked. The inspector will also identify if there are any exposed wires either dead or alive. On older homes the inspector will note if the electricity has been updated and that there is no knob and tube wiring being used.
  5. Plumbing -- This is a huge expense if it has not been updated through the years. Outdated plumbing can reduce the flow of water through the pipes and eventually cause a pipe to burst. The inspector will check the plumbing from the bathrooms to the kitchen and then to the basement. He will also identify what the pipes are made of. Old lead or galvanized pipes should be replaced prior to closing.
  6. Heating and cooling system -- The heating and cooling system is the lifeline of the home and if it's old and outdated, there's the worry of a possible fire hazard. But it costs a lot to replace; the boiler alone can end up costing upwards of $5,000.

Be sure to pay attention to any of these red flags to ensure a smooth transaction and happy home ownership.

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