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Buying a home

How to inspect a house

If you’re thinking of buying a property, inspecting it before you sign on the dotted line is vital. You might think that you’ve found the perfect place, with the right number of rooms and a backyard big enough for a homemade minigolf course, but without giving it thorough once-over you could be investing in a ticking time bomb.

Why should I inspect a house before buying?

Inspecting your potential new home in person is an important part of the purchasing process. If you discover an existing issue after signing a contract, you could be stuck with it, and its associated repair costs. If it’s an issue that could’ve been discovered early, you’ll be kicking yourself. 

What should I look for?

The first thing you should keep an eye out for is any signs of obvious defects. These could include:

  • Cracks in the wall or ceiling, especially larger ones (small cracks are pretty common and not necessarily a sign of structural issues);
  • Leaks, or signs of leaks such as mouldy patches in the ceiling;
  • Doors and windows that stubbornly refuse to open or close;
  • Flickering lights, which may indicate a haunting but are more likely a sign of electrical issues; and
  • Sagging ceilings.

You should check the property for features relating to your lifestyle and preferences, such as:

  • Number and size of rooms;
  • Noise (or lack thereof) from the neighbourhood and nearby streets;
  • Car parking;
  • Proximity to things like schools, public transport, parks, shops and cafes; and
  • Yards and gardens, considering both size and general usefulness.

Should I bring someone along?

If you have a willing friend or family member, try bringing them with you to your house inspection. A second set of eyes means you’re more likely to notice smaller details, and if they’re not thinking of buying the house themselves, they’re less likely to let emotion get in the way of their critical thinking.

Do I still need to get a professional inspection?

Even if you conduct a thorough personal inspection of your prospective new home, it’s still a very good idea to organise an inspection by a professional, qualified building inspector.

There are a few other inspections that you should also consider. Organising them may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it’ll be worth it to avoid the cost and frustration of encountering major issues later.

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