What to Check for When Buying a House
Whether you’re on the lookout for a new house, or looking to sell your own property, you need to be aware of what needs fixing before signing any papers. If a buyer or seller is not absolutely sure with the structural integrity of their purchase, they could be risking the lives and health of the people who will be using the building.
Remember, safety is the utmost concern here, safety that is achieved through proper building inspection.
If you have professional experience in constructing houses and residential buildings, you should have little difficulty in scrutinizing every detail that needs attention. For those without experience in this matter, a professional building inspector will be of great help.
The trained eye of a professional can help you see and fix any potential liabilities and problems that may come from a building’s lack of structural integrity. Having said all that, let’s go into the details of a proper building inspection.
The fuse box is your first destination. Here, you can determine if the house is wired with a modern circuit breaker system or a fuse wire system. For branch circuits, look to see if aluminum wires are installed as this is a fire hazard that will need replacement.
Check if there’s an Earth Leakage Safety Switch installed. When you’re inspecting the wiring, your professional building inspector (depending on his or her skills) might only be able to visually observe the existing wiring. To fully answer your queries on what needs replacement or updating, consult an electrician.
When conducting a pre-purchase building inspection, perhaps the most important thing is the structure. Go to the base of the building and probe the quality of the stumps and foundation. This is highly important, as it is what literally keeps the house standing. The surface of the soil should be free from any watercourses, and a fall should be in place adjacent to the building to keep surface water away from the foundation.
Look at the house roof from all directions to look for any signs of instability, such as wave patterns or minor to major tearing. If there are any skylights, check if the installers might have sawn through structural timber.
Check the inside as well as the outside of the walls for any signs of mold or deterioration. Irregular areas of paint indicate not just cosmetic but also structural problems. Check if the doors are intact, and if they still fit their frames.
Today, copper and PVC pipes are the most acceptable forms of plumbing, as old galvanized steel
pipes may cause poor water quality and/or pressure. The main supply line should not be galvanized, so check the pipe that goes straight to the water meter first. Also, look for broken seals and cracks, especially with the waste pipes.
As with the electricity and wiring, your building inspector can only do so much here. You’ll need a professional plumber to conduct pressure tests with specialized equipment so you can determine what needs fixing and where.
Remember that each and every detail of a building inspection will determine whether or not the purchase is worth it, so don’t be shy about asking questions and scrutinising every detail.
image credit Dmitry G
- Real Estate Home Inspection: Is It Really Necessary? (infobarrel.com)
- Plumbing (infobarrel.com)