Home Buying Checklist
Every buyer should make up a home buying checklist to make sure that all the details are in focus. Paying attention to the details is difficult to do when in awe of the home's flash and newness. A list makes the examination critical and less susceptible to the emotion of the moment. The list should include a number of key concerns including:
- Plumbing. A home buying checklist must include inspection of the plumbing system. If you don't have experience in this area, hire a plumber to inspect the bath, kitchen, connections to the water heater and the place where the water connects to the city or well. If the house has a well, bring in an expert here, too. Test the amount of water pumped and the quality of the water. Plumbing includes the city sewer or use of an on-site septic tank. Bring in another expert for the tank and have the plumber make sure that the sewer system is operating the way it should in the house.
- Electric. This is another top concern on the home buying checklist. Electrical wiring costs major bucks to repair. Bring in an electrician to take a quick look. It will cost a few hundred bucks but the inspection may save thousands in faulty wiring. Investigate aluminum wiring, fuse boxes and electrical work in the house that is made without permits. Truck on down to the city or county permit office and ask to have all permits pulled on the potential house.
- Boundary Lines. Another home buying checklist must including looking at the legal boundary lines for the home. A title policy lists the physical boundaries, any legal use of the home's land, driveways or fences. Any buildings, driveways or other homes on your legal property description are encroachments on your land and need to be investigated. Don't take an owners word for any prior agreement. Put the investigation down on the checklist for a full investigation.
- Foundation. The base of the home is the key to a quality structure. The basement, raised foundation or slab should be inspected. Large cracks or openings in any of these mean calling a foundation specialist to take a second look. It doesn't mean the house shouldn't be purchased, it simply identifies a problem and the expert gives an estimate of how much the repairs will cost.
- Roof. Another home buying checklist big buck expense is the roof. An experienced roofer can spot problems and potential problems from taking a walk around the roof and inspecting the attic and garage. This is another couple of hundred dollars well spent. The roof is not a deal breaker, unless the price is high and the roof needs a replacement. Another caution for the home buying checklist is water damage caused by a leaking roof that has been replaced. Dry rot is a problem when water has damaged timbers. If the bad wood isn't replaced, the new roof is not sound.
- Termites. These little insects eat a whole lot of wood. Hire a professional to inspect the house, garage and any out buildings. Insects eat faster in warmer climates but termites eat wood in any part of the country, so put the inspection on the home buying checklist.
- Structural Soundness. Houses "settle" and small cracks here and there may not mean much, but add a quick inspection of the areas around the corners, at the doorways, stairs and window openings. If patches are evident or cracking is significant, add a carpenter or engineer to the check list to inspect potential problems. A large number of small cracks may mean a problem. The more cracks and small openings, the greater the potential damage. If the home is on filled land, or on a hill, bring in a structural engineer.
- Kitchen. The kitchen checklist should examine appliances, cupboards, flooring and countertops. Plumbing and connections also need to be examined.
- Baths. This room is another area for a detailed home buying checklist. Examine the bathtub, faucets, plumbing, toilet, countertops and flooring. Any evidence of water damage or dry rot is a flag for the home buying checklist of extra costs.
Sumichrasat, Michael, et al., "The New Complete Book of Home Buying." McGraw-Hill, 2004.