Since buying real estate is a major investment, you’ll want to make sure that all buildings are structurally sound. The best way to do this is by performing a thorough inspection yourself or hiring a professional contractor to do so for you.
Structure and Foundation
While walking around the exterior of the building, check for any signs of damage such as rotted boards or holes in outside walls. It’s also helpful to look at the building from a distance in order to see if it appears to be uneven, as this is a sign of foundation problems. Holes or cracks in the foundation or a home that doesn’t appear to be properly seated are all cause for alarm. You may want to hire a professional for structure inspection or carefully read the building inspection guidelines.
Look at the roof from a distance in order to determine if there are any sagging or buckling areas. You should also check for shingles that are curled on one end or cracked in the middle. If possible, climb onto the roof and check for missing shingles or soft spots that indicate water damage. It can also be helpful to enter the attic area in order to see if there is any moisture damage that could be due to a leaking roof.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Heating and air conditioning units can be expensive to replace, so you’ll want to make sure they are in fair condition. Adjust the thermostat so that an HVAC unit blows both hot and cold air in order to make sure both work properly. While doing so, listen for any unusual noises coming from the machine, especially when it starts up and shuts down. For a more thorough inspection, you may need to contact an HVAC technician.
Electrical and Wiring
Visually inspect all circuit boxes inside and out to see if they are in relatively good condition. If possible, crawl into the attic space or in the building’s crawl space to get a better idea of how old the building’s wiring might be. Check all outlets to see whether they appear black on the outside, as this is an indication that particular outlet has smoked in the past. Never touch any exposed wires, and contact an electrician if you notice anything that seems out of the ordinary.
Interior Walls and Ceilings
Check all interior walls and ceilings in order to see if they are straight rather than buckled or curved. If the building has plastered walls, look to see if there are any sections that seem to be peeling or crumbling. You should also look for signs of mold or mildew growing on the walls and ceilings, as this could indicate the structure has a moisture problem that needs to be addressed.
Floors should be checked to make sure they are sturdy enough to walk on without the fear of falling through them. Step gently on the outer edges of the floor, as this is generally where it will become weak first. If the floor gives underneath light pressure, this is a sign that the floor is unsteady and may require replacement. You can also check the general condition of subfloors by looking at them through a crawl space.
It can be helpful to make notes during your inspection so that you can checkany problems you find in greater depth. A building inspection can be rather time consuming, yet can save you a great deal of money both on the purchase of your property as well as in future repairs.
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