How to: check the basement before you buy a house
Last modified: 2019/08/15 | Approximate reading time 4 mins
Buying a new home is an exciting venture, with endless possibilities laid out in front of you. Of course, everyone has an idea of their ideal home and for most this includes the extra space that a basement encompasses. With the right basement and the assistance of a good contractor, you could host an alternative living area, game room, a home gym or a place for washer and dryer. When shopping for a house, it can be difficult to tell the condition a basement is in; so how do you figure out what to look for?
Not every basement will be in good structural condition for it to be liveable. Luckily, there are specifics to check in order to determine what kind of condition a basement is in, and this is very important before you dive head first into buying a new home. So, before you sign those papers, here are a few things to consider.
How to inspect a basement before buying a property
1- Water infiltration woes
One of the most important things to check when buying a home with a basement is the water situation. This is especially the case in older homes, where basements tend to be made of permeable materials such as stone. An older basement may have significant trouble keeping moisture out, leading to a quick deterioration in surface materials.
With this in mind, when looking at potential homes make sure to ask about the material the basement is made from, as well as the year the home was constructed. Most concrete basements will hold up against water infiltration, but still be sure to look for cracks in concrete surfaces. If you happen upon the home of your dreams but find signs of serious moisture build-up or water infiltration, this could be remedied.
Basement waterproofing is essential for the maintenance of a comfortable, beautiful and mould-free home. However, it will need to be done before any other construction projects happen, as your basement affects the entire structure of your home.
If the water has found its way into drywall or any untreated wood that is present in or around the basement, then you’ll be dealing with more damage than you’re aware of. This could point to the presence of mould or mildew growth which is a serious health risk if left alone. If this appears to be the situation, work with a certified professional to tackle the job and get things under control.
2- Property grade
The grade of the property you’re interested in is another concern that relates directly to water infiltration. The grade of the property will affect how flowing water finds its way to your house, and if it’s sloping towards the building this might be a point of contention. If this is an issue, it will need to be corrected and even more so if the property you’re looking at comes with an older home.
A landscape can be re-graded while also fixing any foundational issues such as cracks or leaks. Issues with your foundation or the property itself need to be fixed before you even consider moving forward with basement renovations.
3- Look around: wall and ceiling signs
Simply put: what do the walls and ceiling of the basement look like? These surfaces are excessively telling, as they can point to more water infiltration issues as well as electrical problems. Signs of either of these issues can be easily spotted as visible stains on the ceiling, interior or exterior walls.
Another note is to take notice of burn marks around outlets, on walls or even ceilings, since this is a sure-fire sign of electrical or wiring problems. As shouldn’t be a surprise, any issues with home electrical systems can be both dangerous and costly, so do take these signs seriously.
Lastly, if the basement appears to have been freshly painted, this could be an attempt of the current homeowner to cover up these damage indicators. This will not be true in every case, as everyone loves a fresh coat of paint. However, if this is something you notice, it’s best to bring in a professional inspector who can tell you a little bit more about what is actually happening.
4- Ceiling height
While we’re still looking up and the ceiling subject is fresh in our minds, you should take into consideration the height of the ceiling. This is because if you plan on doing any renovations or turning the basement into a living area, the ceiling will need to be at a specific height to comply with municipal codes.
Do a bit of research in relation to the area where you’re planning to move, and then be ready with the measuring tape! We should mention that any and all research regarding local building codes will work in your favour, as being well aware of the requirements of the area will minimize the possibility of running into renovation problems later.
5- Heating and cooling systems
HVAC systems should already be installed in the basement of the home you’re looking at. If they’re not, then bear in mind this could require a huge chunk of your budget. This is because installing these systems is a costly venture and it may require you to re-route the HVAC system already in place.
Another note is that if the current home system can already be routed to your basement, it might not be able to handle the addition of another space. Make sure that if you’re in love with a house but don’t find a basement HVAC system, you talk to the seller regarding a price negotiation.
Looking out for these things can assist you in purchasing the home of your dreams while being certain it’s in tip-top shape for the health and well being of yourself and your family. The basement should never be overlooked and is an excellent asset to any home.
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