House inspection checklist: 8 things to look for when buying a house

By Metropolitan Air Conditioning

This article was supplied by Metropolitan Air Conditioning.

That fixer-upper or renovator's dream house you've got your eye on might be a bigger financial investment than you've bargained for. Before committing up to 30 years of your wages to paying off a home, you should run through a property inspection checklist so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into. 

When you're considering making an offer on a property, it's important that you account for more than just the interior's aesthetics. We're going to run you through eight things to check when buying a new or old house with our home inspection checklist so you can have a rough idea of what it will cost to get it up to scratch. 

1. House exterior and foundations 

It's not always what's on the inside that counts - there's a lot that can go wrong on a house's exterior. Here are some things to look out for: 

  • condition of the stumps and foundations 
  • damage or cracks on the external walls 
  • condition of the paint 
  • how watertight/airtight windows and doors are 

Repairing issues on the house’s exterior can often be costly. For the sake of your home’s structural integrity, they should be assessed by a qualified building inspector though. 

2. Gutters and roof plumbing 

While blocked or rusted gutters won't be a problem until the wet months roll around, they can prove to be very costly if not attended to. If you're able, use a ladder to inspect the gutters and downpipes for rust, holes, sagging, and blockages. 

What about the stormwater drain? If this is blocked and water backs up out of it, the yard could be flooded. 

You'll also want to check out the condition of the roof and flashings. Major roof repairs can set you back considerably. 

3. Water stains, mould, and corrosion 

Look for any signs of water stains or moisture on the walls and ceilings. While largely cosmetic, no one likes unsightly mould and water stains in their home, and repair costs can be quite high. Not to mention the health effects you might experience being exposed to this long-term. 

4. Large cracks in walls or ceilings 

Cracks in internal walls and ceilings aren't uncommon in older homes. Homes with a large number of cracks that are wider than 2.0mm can be cause for concern, however, and should be assessed during a building inspection. 

5. Air conditioning repairs? 

Just because a home comes with an air conditioner doesn't mean it's in working order. Depending on the type of air conditioner, replacing it could be a very costly adventure. Repairs could be even more in some cases! 

If it has an older system, chances are it'll be a big energy guzzler too. It would be worth your time to investigate the cost of repairs versus replacing the existing air conditioner in the home so you can budget for this. 

6. Water pressure and drainage 

Many older homes have plumbing problems due to their age. The most obvious ones you can check for are the water pressure and drainage. Check out the water flow from showerheads and taps around the house and assess how well it drains away. 

We all know the pain of having too low water pressure, but too high pressure comes with a lot of problems too. Regulations state that your home's water pressure should not exceed 500 kPa, and if yours does, any insurance or warranty you might have could be voided. 

If the property has slow, or even no drainage, this is a problem you'll have to address too before it becomes even worse and more costly. 

7. Electrical wiring and lighting 

Home rewiring can be one of the most costly repairs you might ever have to fork money out for. Before purchasing a property, you should at least check that all the switches work and turn on what they're meant to. You can test out the power points too by plugging in your phone charger and checking it works. 

While you're checking out the wiring, what type of lighting does the property have? If it's old halogen or incandescent bulbs, you ought to consider the cost to upgrade to LEDs or something more efficient. 

8. Home automation potential 

Home automation and smart devices are becoming more common as the days go on. If this is a property you see yourself selling in the future, it's important that there's potential for all these smart devices and appliances to be installed. 

A home fully decked out with home automation can attract more buyers and even increase your home's value. In the near future, home automation might become an expectation, rather than just a 'nice to have' part of the home.

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