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Things to Inspect Before Buying a House

Last modified: 2020-06-10 | Approximate reading time 6 mins

Amanda Harvey

Buying a house is probably the single most important financial investment of a lifetime. Therefore, a future homeowner should be assured of paying a fair price for their new property and avoid being confronted with unforeseen work and the costs that come with it.

To do this, a proper inspection must be carried out. To enlighten you on this very important matter, here is our list of the main elements that should be inspected before buying a home.

What to inspect before buying a home

Toiture maison de campagne_roof country home

The roof

Depending on the type of shingle with which the roof is covered, the lifespan of a roof will vary. At the minimum, it should last 20 years. Therefore, knowing when your roof was installed or changed will allow you to know if it’s necessary to think of replacing it soon. When you consider the fact that a new roof costs thousands of dollars, it is rather easy to put this item on the list of priorities.

Paying specific attention to the condition of the shingles may give you an indication in this respect. Are there any missing shingles? Are some damaged? If any repairs need to be made, you should consider replacing the roof. Also regarding the condition of the shingles, be aware that if they are wavy or their edges are raised, this could indicate the presence of poor ventilation in the attic.

What about soffits? These must be present in sufficient numbers to ensure that the roof is properly ventilated. Moreover, the presence of an exhaust vent is mandatory in order to allow the air entering through the soffits to be expelled from the roof.

Leaks or moisture stains near the chimney are evidence that the chimney must either be repaired or replaced. Water infiltration may occur due to the lack of watertight flashing around its base. Besides, it should be carefully examined to avoid an improper installation or a degree of wear that may lead to this problem in the future. In addition, you should check the solidity of the installation and the condition of the masonry, as well as the condition of the chimney cap.

Also, it’s important to avoid neglecting the flashings installed on the roof. As with the chimney, if they are in poor condition, this could allow water to creep under the shingles and eventually lead to the downfall of your roofing material.

Roof inspection also involves taking a look at the rain gutters. Are they securely attached, are their connections tight? Finally, check that they are not obstructed, as this could cause water to accumulate on the roof.

The electrical panel

The electrical panel should be strategically placed since a random configuration could be dangerous. Depending on the age of the desired property, the electrical panel may only power up to 100 or even 60 amps. It will then be necessary to have it changed, otherwise, it’s not possible to meet the electrical needs of your household. Note that your electrical panel should be at least 200 amps.

To be certain that your electrical panel does indeed comply with the standards issued by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, we’d suggest getting in touch with a master electrician. He’ll be able to inspect your panel connections and assess its power. In addition, it may affect the risk of electric shock as well as the grounding of sockets.

Plumbing

This is a very important aspect that should not be overlooked. Indeed, it’s imperative to make sure that the pipes are not made of lead: they should be copper or PVC, otherwise, you will have to pay significant costs to change the entire system. Try to spot any water leaks as this will require repair as soon as possible. As the cost of plumbing renovations can be very high, be careful.

Évier de cuisine_kitchen sink

Thermal and sound insulation

It goes without saying that a poorly insulated house will have you dealing with frustrating problems. This point will also weigh very heavily as the costs associated with poor insulation should be taken seriously.

Now there is the problem of assessing this aspect without having access to what’s behind the walls. The best solution would then be to ask the former owner for access to heating bills during the winter season. Don't be embarrassed, as avoiding this question could be very expensive in the long run.

If you’re satisfied with the thermal insulation, don't forget that soundproofing is also important. You certainly won’t want to be overwhelmed by the noise of neighbours or family in the home, as this can affect your daily peace of mind.

To evaluate this little test, have someone walk upstairs to check if the sound of their steps is heard from the floor below. Be sure to close all windows so as not to be misled by outside noise.

The attic

If possible, take a look at the attic. In this regard, know that it would be wise to call in a professional to judge the solidity of the frame as well as its anchoring to the structure of the house.

During this visit, you should carefully examine the condition of the wood to see if it has traces of moisture or termites. Regarding this last point, keep in mind that wood damaged by termites will sound hollow. Also, remember that traces of moisture or material degradation indicate the presence of a lack of ventilation or insulation.

Grenier_Soumission Rénovation_attic_renoquotes.com

Foundations: watch for cracks

Cracks in a wall are a concern for many homeowners. However, it’s difficult to know to what extent these evoke a superficial problem or an issue directly linked to the state of the foundations. In order to be clear and not to jump to conclusions too quickly, call a building specialist. Whether the latter is a technologist, architect or engineer, they will give you an update on the situation.

Fenêtre de salon_living room window

The condition of doors and windows

Doors and windows should be examined with care, as their replacement costs several thousands of dollars. On top of this, if they are in poor condition, you will spend more in terms of heating and energy costs. Note that if the house you hope to acquire has single-pane windows, you may need to install new ones. 

The French drain

An examination carried out by a camera can provide an assessment of the state of the french drain. This can show if the drain is in need of a good cleaning, especially if one hasn’t been carried out for a while. 

Woodwork

In the ever-growing list of things to be checked during an inspection, woodwork should absolutely be considered. Thus, take a look at the outline of the windows, mouldings and the frame of the door.  In the same vein, check the condition of floors to know if you’ll need to restore them before moving in. 

Humidity: not to be overlooked when inspecting a home

Carefully take a look at the walls to make sure there is no mould or moisture present. If there is, this could indicate a lack of insulation as coupled with insufficient ventilation. Secondly, make sure there are no whitish marks on the walls of the basement if it’s not yet finished.

Those traces of efflorescence indicate excess moisture and can signal structural damage. The source of these stains could also be related to moisture within the original concrete and mortar mixture. In this case, stains will simply need to be cleaned. Again, the expertise of a professional will be of great help to you in knowing the extent of the damage. 

Fenêtre avec bac à fleurs_Soumission Rénovation_window with flowers_renoquotes

Other important aspects to inspect before buying a home

Since the bathroom deals with high humidity, check the ventilation system to be certain it’s working.

While there is plenty to inspect inside the property, the exterior should not be overlooked. In fact, we’d suggest that you walk around the property to assess the condition of exterior siding. Its change can be quite costly and could easily make a dent in your budget. 

Finally, don’t forget to check that the taps are working as well as the hot and cold water supply. You should also look at the hot water tank and figure out when it was installed. 

Useful renovations

It’s always a good idea to inquire about any recent renovations that took place. Refurbishing a kitchen or bathroom will save you from having to invest money in their restoration for the years to come, which is a huge benefit in terms of finances.

A transferable guarantee: for peace of mind

Regarding things that have been changed or renovated recently, you should know when they have been refurbished or replaced. You should also be aware of any warranty that comes with them and whether they are transferable from one owner to another. This could prove to be more than positive if any problems arise.

Looking for someone to inspect and renovate your new property? Get 3 renovation quotes for your home renovation project

RenoQuotes.com can help you get quotes for property purchases. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals. 

Dial 1-844 828-1588 to speak with one of our customer service representatives

 

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