When you are looking for a new home, these 11 things occur more frequently than others, some will be a very expensive fix:
1. Grading and Drainage: When you look at a property, check to see whether storm water drains toward or away from the home. It is easy to see whether the yard slopes, but check for the concrete near the home and make sure it drains. Driveways, sidewalks and patios often settle, and the runoff from the concrete drains toward the foundation of the home. Downspout drains should extend at least 6 feet away from the foundation.
2. Roofing: Always ask the current owner when the roof was replaced and whether it is a single layer. The average steep-sloped roof shingle should last 20 to 30 years and low-sloped or flat roof shingle should be good for 15 to 20 years. Shingles that are exposed to direct sunlight won’t last as long as those in the shade.
3. Crawl space: If the home you are looking at has a crawl space, check for decay, mold, standing water, leaks and loose ductwork for a gas or electric water heater and furnace in a garage.
4. Water heater/furnace: Check the height above the floor for a gas or electric water heater and furnace in a garage. The area that generates a flame or a spark must be at least 18 inches above the floor to keep gasoline fumes from igniting. A gas-fired furnace and water heater can’t be located in a bedroom or bathroom or in a closet accessed through a bedroom or bathroom.
5. Conduit: Look under the kitchen sink to see whether the electrical wiring is in a conduit. If the wiring for the disposal and dishwasher is a cord and plug to an outlet, conduit isn’t required.
6. Windows: Open all accessible windows to make sure they’re easily operated. All bedroom windows must be easy to open in emergencies.
7. Glass: Check the glass over a tub or shower to see whether it is closer than 60 inches to the bottom of the tub or shower. Glass that is closer than 60 inches must be tempered (it will have a “Tempered” mark etched inside the panes or on the glass). Glass blocks don’t have to be tempered.
8. Appliances: With the homeowner’s permission, operate the disposal, dishwasher and other kitchen appliances.
9. Electrical layout: Check each light switch and the number of outlets in each room. There should be an outlet every 12 feet.
10. Electric panel: Open the cover on the main electric panel to see whether the home has breakers or fuses. An older fuse panel might be rated at 60 amp and will need upgraded to a minimum of 100 amps.
11. Plumbing: With the owner’s permission, turn on all faucets to check water flow. Make sure none of the sinks or tubs overflow during the test.