31 Property Inspection Tips
31 Property Inspection Tips
Every weekend I see couples going through homes at open for inspection and, after listening to their conversations and talking to them, I soon realise that many people have very little idea what they are actually looking for. More importantly, I think their priorities are completely wrong. Instead of noticing that the house is as dark as a cave, they are talking about furniture and whether or not the fridge will fit.
When you are looking for a home, you need to look past the presentation of the house, and look at the property for its shortcomings, as well as its pluses. You have to look behind the stylish furniture, the enticing smell of a freshly cooked cake in the kitchen, and the lovely garden and ask yourself: ‘Well, is there enough storage space for my stuff?’
Smoke and mirrors
It’s important to be aware of the fact that what you see is not necessarily what you get. Most vendors will engage in a little ‘smoke and mirrors’ to cover up the faults and highlight all the pluses of the house they are selling. This practice has spread dramatically over the last few years, and companies who specialise in presentation of properties for sale are commonplace.
Nowadays it is quite common for vendors to hire display furniture to compliment their own. Similarly, if you go to a display suite of a proposed unit development, you will find it impeccably furnished, with every mod-con arranged beautifully. However, if you look closely, you will find that the double bed in the bedroom is actually a large single bed made to look like a double, and prospective buyers don’t look closely enough to see whether or not the double bedroom is really a double bedroom.
Wow! you might think. It’s got a big family room. But if you look closely at the floor plan, there is no real dining room or kitchen/meals area. Suddenly it occurs to you that there is no table in the family room. The fact is the house you are inspecting is not really that big and that is why there is no table anywhere. What you need to be able to grasp is how to see behind what is actually on show and how big the room would really look if there were six chairs there instead of the four tiny ones. Another example is the myriad of flooring disasters a colourful rug can hide: non-matching floorboards, flooring that is lifting because of damp, and huge stains are just a few.
Here is what to look for when inspecting a property:
1. Does the house have plenty of natural sunlight?
2. Do the rooms flow well from one to another?
- Do you have to go through corridors to get to every room?
- Do formal rooms adjoin the bedrooms?
3. Does the floorplan work?
A good floorplan represents a sense of ease in the way people live and should provide convenience and privacy in the right places.
4. Do the living areas have the right aspect?
The right aspect can change the value of a property up to 10 per cent. For example, one with a northerly aspect usually has an abundance of natural light, whereas a south-facing aspect has no direct sunlight whatsoever.
5. How far away are the bathrooms from the bedrooms?
They need to be within close proximity, especially for large or growing families. It is not good for harmonious living if teenagers are stomping up and down the hallway all night going from one end of the house to the other just to get to the bathroom.
6. Does the house have an intrinsic ‘wow factor’ that appeals to you?
Like an entrance hall and hallway that are so stunning you want to buy the property even before you get to the kitchen?
7. How functional is the kitchen?
Are the appliances in the right positions?
8. Does the quality of tiling in the bathroom continue throughout the house?
9. Do the floors sag near the fireplace?
One good way to test is to roll a marble. This usually means the stumps or bearers are gone or need replacing
10. Do the floorboards move?
This means there are hidden problems with the foundations of the house or the stumps or bearers are in need of repair.
11. Has the electrical wiring been updated recently or does the house still have the original power board?
If it does, you will probably be up for replacing the wiring. Ideally look for one that already has a circuit breaker installed.
12. Turn on a tap in the bathroom and check for water pressure (both hot and cold).
13. Is the painting a quality job or a cover-up with new paint?
14. Is there damp, that is, dark stains around the edge of the carpet?
Look under the house – smell it for damp.
15. Is there good sub-floor ventilation?
16. Is there enough heating?
17. How old is the air-conditioning?
18. Is the gas connected?
19. Is there a sag in the roof line?
If there is, it usually means the trusses need replacing as it is structurally imperfect; more often than not the whole roof needs to be replaced.
20. Does the guttering need replacing?
21. Are there brown stains on the ceiling paintwork?
A sure sign of a leak.
22. What is the standard of the garden, including the plants and shrubs?
Are you prepared to maintain a garden requiring this level of commitment?
23. Are there any trees in the garden that could cause movement to the house foundations?
24. Is there enough car parking?
25. Is there easy access to the street from the driveway?
26. Does the land slope?
If it has too much slope then the yard is probably of little use for family enjoyment. Sometimes severely sloping land has severe drainage problems.
27. Does the back yard need additional drainage?
28. Does the house have a burglar alarm, or smoke alarms?
If so, is the burglar alarm monitored or unmonitored, and are the smoke alarms attached to the main power source?
29. Are the window furnishings on their last legs?
30. Will the light fittings need replacing?
31. Will the family room fit three teenagers?
As you can see, such a list is endless. When you are at an open for inspection, listen to what other prospective buyers are saying; in fact, talk to them. They might have picked up something you have forgotten to look for.
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