Selling a home is generally a very staged affair. The home is given a bit of a “once over” to make it look fresh and appealing, but it’s pretty common for serious issues to be hidden by this staging. So, what are the home inspection red flags you need to look out for when buying a home?
The problem with fresh paint
Be wary of a fresh paint job. Could it only be because it was well due for a coat and they want a better chance of selling? Yes, of course. But the question you need to ask yourself is this: Does this lovely paint job cover up anything serious?
A quick paint job can cover mould and damp on walls or be used with a bit of plaster to cover cracks. What’s so wrong about that? That wall damage is often a sign of a deeper issue, like rot or pest infestation, that will be affecting the bones of the home.
Boy, does it smell pretty in here
Incense, candles, and wax melts can smell great, but are they being used to cover other smells in the house?
Be aware of any underlying smells and the possibility that all those pretty smells are strategically covering up the scent of mould, damp, and rot in the home.
Strategic furnishings and staging
When a home is up for sale, it’s sometimes “staged” with furnishings to give the home a fresh look and help you, the potential buyer, imagine how YOUR home could look. The problem is that the seller can cover up issues with walls and floors by the strategic placement of furniture and rugs. Yep, there could be a significant crack behind that bookcase or some cracked or sagging floor beneath that lovely plush rug.
Check for signs of the recent movement of furniture and pictures.
Deceptive patching and filling
We’ve mentioned the filling of cracks in plaster as a home inspection red flag, but have you taken a look at the exterior brickwork and concrete?
As a house moves, cracks can appear not only in the interior walls but also in brickwork. Filling those gaps doesn’t solve the problem; the root cause needs addressing. It could be subsidence, moisture, pests - a whole myriad of issues!
Patching of concrete is equally concerning. Cracks that appear in concrete can be a sign of concrete cancer, which is when the rebar within a concrete structure rusts and causes expansion and stress on the concrete resulting in weakened, cracked and shattered concrete.
The legalities of inspecting a home
When attending an open house or property inspection, the potential buyer can look but not touch. You need to assess things at face value, so moving furniture and lifting rugs is a big no-no. Eyeballing the visible walls and floors for signs of damage is acceptable. If you want to take photos, ask permission.
Make sure you take your time and absorb as much detail as you can, thinking beyond the staging and charm. Any damage evident to the naked eye should be an immediate red flag.
A qualified building inspector should carry out a building inspection for you before purchasing a home; this will protect you from the hidden damage. Whilst a building inspector cannot move furnishings, they can access the roof space and underneath the house. A building inspector has a collection of unique tools at their disposal and assesses visible issues to determine if hidden problems could be lurking beneath.
Ben at Safeguard Inspections on Brisbane’s Bayside, is a qualified and experienced building and pest inspector with over 25 years experience in the construction industry. That’s some pretty good peace of mind!