It’s a lot of pressure to turn up to a 15 minute house inspection and make a decision whether or not to move in based on that short experience. Knowing what to look out for and what to ask the real estate agent can help you feel more confident about your decision.
Whether you’re looking for your next rental or a house to buy, here are 8 things you should check in the inspection:
1. Water pressure and drainage
Test the water pressure by turning on the taps in the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Check if the water drains properly and open any cupboards under the sink to check for leakages.
Issues with water pressure and drainage can be caused by corroding pipes, blockages or debris build up. Left unchecked they may lead to greater issues later on.
In some cases they may indicate a larger issue with the plumbing system. Ask the agent if they will perform any necessary repairs before you move in.
2. Signs of mould or water damage
Mould looks unattractive, but it can also be a health hazard if left untreated. Water damage may be an indication of leaks or faults with the plumbing.
Beware that a fresh coat of paint can hide problems with moisture. Use your sense of smell as well as looking for visual signs.
Check the entire house for signs of mould or water damage, including the ceilings. Damaged ceilings may need repainting or replacing entirely.
Mould in the bathroom and kitchen can be a sign of poor ventilation. Mould and water stains may require repainting, regrouting or professional cleaning.
3. Cracks on inner or outer walls
Check the inner and outer walls of the house for cracks in the plaster.
Major cracks can be a sign that the house is sinking and not structurally sound. Structural issues can be very costly to repair.
Fine cracks may be an indication that the plaster was installed incorrectly. Cracked plaster may come away when wall fixings are installed.
Ask the real estate agent about the condition of the insulation, when it was installed or last topped up.
Houses with old insulation may have difficulty regulating temperatures and could make your heating and cooling less energy efficient.
If possible, check the condition of the ceiling insulation by looking in the roof cavity through the manhole. Look for signs of physical damage, mould or infestation.
5. Air conditioning
Check that the air conditioning is functioning, does not make any strange noises when turned on and doesn’t emit any strange smells.
Ask when the air conditioning system was installed and when it was last serviced by an air con Perth specialist. For renters, you may want to request the air con unit be serviced before you move in.
Keep in mind that ducted air conditioning in Mandurah will provide cool air to the entire home whereas a wall unit will only heat and cool one room. If there is an issue with the air conditioner, ducted systems will be more expensive to replace than a reverse cycle wall unit.
6. Draughts around windows and doors
It’s a good idea to open and close all the windows and doors to check that you can do so without trouble.
Doors and windows that catch may indicate shifting foundations, a structural issue with the home, or expansion due to moisture issues.
When the doors and windows are in a closed position, check for any air draughts. If you can feel air flowing, it’s a sign that there are gaps that will need to be sealed.
Gaps can reduce the energy efficiency of your home and make it harder for you to regulate temperatures.
Whatever type of flooring is in the house, check for damage, disfigurement and signs of infestation. Feel around with your feet to see if there are any weak spots in the flooring.
Cupping, crowning and bucking are common issues with hardwood floors that are usually caused by moisture issues.
Stained or worn carpet may need replacing. You should also check for squeakiness as this could indicate a problem with the subfloor structures.
8. Natural light
Real estate agents will typically turn on the lights of a home before the inspection. If you can, turn off the lights to get a sense of how much natural light there is.
Keep in mind that light levels may change throughout the day and from season to season. If you come back for a second inspection, try and arrange it for a different time of day. That way you can see what the light is like at other times of the day.
It’ll also give you a chance to see what traffic is like and whether there are loud noise levels in and around the house.
Ask your real estate agent for repairs before moving in
If you notice issues with the house relating to any of the points above, ask the real estate agent if they can be fixed before you move in.
For home buyers, you may be able to request a lower buying price if there are issues that you will need to repair yourself, including plumbing and electrical issues.
Be sure to weigh up both the advantages and potential drawbacks of any house that you visit. Knowing what to look out for will help you make the most of your inspection time and make a good decision about your next home.