Even if Your Home is Not on the Market
A home is one of the largest investments you will make, and it only makes sense to keep your investment in the best condition possible. Consider all the potential things that can go wrong, and the cost of a home inspection will seem insignificant if a major failure is detected early.
And in today’s market climate, many aspects of the process are turning virtual, like real estate tours, meetings with sellers and buyers, and many others.
So, it’s important to understand how to prepare your home for a potential sale down the road, even if it’s not on the market.
Let’s get into the details:
Start from the ground up, or beneath the ground if your home has a basement. As the earth moves and temperatures and rainfall fluctuate your home will shift. For a basement that can mean damp or leaky walls and in dire situations basement walls can fail. A home inspection will alert you to the early signs of basement issues.
If an addition was done and the basement was not extended, you will have a crawl space that may remind you of “The Blair Witch Project.” Chances are this is an area you do not frequent often. A home inspector will be able to ascertain problems in this space. Homes built on a concrete foundation have different issues like hairline cracks that can develop into major cracks. Pier and beam foundations are often the first point of entry for termites, scorpions and other potentially dangerous pests. These are the issues you will want to know about as they start so you can mitigate the damage for a few hundred dollars as opposed to many thousands later.
Ceilings, Walls and the Roof
Your home inspector will be able to read early warning signs on the interior walls and ceiling of your home. Cobwebs do not count, but tiny cracks that occur around the perimeter of the ceiling may suggest unusual settling or could be symptomatic of a larger issue. Damp spots on walls can mean roofing problems.
The home inspector will alert you to potential damage and normal wear before you have a crisis with a bad roof. In the attic, an evaluation of the insulation will give you a clue to how much energy you may be wasting and whether there are animal or insect infestations. Little scratching noises in the ceiling above your head at night are NOT supposed to be there.
HVAC and Windows
These are two costly areas of your home to replace if proper maintenance is not done. A home inspection will reveal weather-related contraction of caulking around windows, which is an often-unnoticed area where energy is lost. The HVAC system is not only expensive to replace but it can be unbearably uncomfortable if you live in a cold climate and have no heat when the outside temperature hits zero or a southern part of the country and you have no A/C as the thermometer reaches 107. Yearly maintenance is critical, and it includes changing filters on a regular basis. A home inspection can alert you to serious problems early enough to prevent whole system failures.
Plumbing and Electrical
Home inspectors are trained to see the types of things a homeowner may not notice. If you keep supplies under your kitchen sink, you may never see the little drips from the various hoses underneath.
A little drip may seem insignificant but will ultimately lead to musty smells and water stains at the least. Dripping water can be indicative of a cracked hose, a small pipe leak or a leak at a junction between a hose and a pipe. The longer you let a leak continue the more damage it will do to your home. A wet crumbling ceiling is no fun.
Electrical problems are even more dangerous. According to FireRescue1 “The leading specific items most often first ignited in residential building electrical fires were electrical wire, cable insulation (31%) and structural member or framing (18%).” Testing electrical outlets is a must. If you hear static or see an arc of light when you plug a device into an outlet it is time to call the electrician.
If you live in an older home it is imperative for you to test for lead in the paint that was used on walls and windowsills, especially if you have small children and pets. Other things you may want to test for are radon, carbon monoxide and asbestos, all confirmed as dangerous to humans and animals. There are tests for swimming pools, pests and septic systems, if you have one.
The adage, “What you can’t see can’t hurt you” is certainly not true when applied to your house. Catching any problem early enough can save you thousands of dollars.