We've learned the hard way that there's some very important things that should be checked before signing the papers to buy a new home. Of course, you'll have a pro do an inspection and look over the place to make sure you're termite and flood damage free, but these 10 things fall into a different category; the immediate to-do list, which is something you may not want to be adding to right now.
Even though there will always be cosmetic changes to make to a new home, trying to avoid costly repairs upon first moving in is always wise. Being able to save that money for the dining table of your dreams (or simply for gas and groceries!) is a big deal. Here's a few things we suggest checking before you sign the papers and inherit all of the previous tenants past problems.
1. Check The Drains: This might sound silly, but we've had two homes with the same issues in the last several years. Somewhere between the house and the sewer line, there's a backup. Usually tree branches or a collapsed pipe, but either way, it's hard to spot unless you run a load of laundry, fill up the tub and sinks and let them all attempt to drain at the same time.
2. Open All The Windows: Replacing windows isn't fun and it isn't cheap either. Open them all to find out if they stick, are stuck or just plain old won't open.
3. Turn On All The Faucets: Although changing out faucets isn't exactly rocket science it's always a pain to lay under a cabinet and reach for the sky with funny tools to get things removed. Just check to make sure they all work before buying to eliminate the back ache.
4. Light A Fire In The Fireplace: Even though chimneys are usually installed by professionals, that doesn't mean they're always in pristine shape. Cleaning them is as simple as a phone call to a local chimney sweep, but finding out if all the fireplaces in the home draft correctly is another.
5. Taste The Water: This lesson is always learned the hard way. Even if your city has great water, your pipes might be old enough that they'll send a little extra something out of the tap and into your glass. Knowing up front if you'll need to install a whole house filter or invest in a few Brita pitchers is always helpful.
6. Flush The Toilets: Knowing that all the toilets in the home can handle toilet paper is a bonus. Although they're easy enough to replace or fix, finding ones that flush well are a bonus. If you're dissatisfied they could issue you money back to make the replacement in order to get you to sign on the dotted line!
7. Open The Electrical Panel: A clean and labeled panel is a happy panel. Something that looks like squirrels got up inside can signal trouble. Look for loose wires or ones that simply don't connect to anything. It could signal that there's live wires inside the walls!
8. Turn On The Heat/Air: Knowing that both of these things work prior to actually needing them can be a serious bonus. Check to make sure they blow their respective temperatures in addition to just turning on.
9. Pull The Carpet Back: Before you move in, you'll want to find out if there's hardwood floors and also any mold or mildew under the carpets. Look for the lowest side of the room and if possible pull a corner back. Many homeowners will have a section of carpet removed in a closet to allow you to see the condition of the floors below.
10. Basement Moisture: Although most home inspectors will sniff this one out for you, look for signs of dampness. Even if the walls aren't apparently wet, look for things like dehumidifiers, bucks of silica or other things that grab moisture from the air and keep it at bay. If the home owners are smart enough to move these things, look for places near outlets that look clean (or leave a dust ring) where something like this might have sat.
Do you have one to add to the list? Share your tip (and story behind it) in the comments below!
MORE LIFE AT HOME ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
• Home Owner's Manual: Annual Home Maintenance Calendar
• 10 Simple Things to Make You Happier At Home
• 5 Completely Free Ways to Make Your House a Home
Re-edited from a post originally published 8.9.10 - JL