Buying your first home is exciting, it is often the largest purchase of your life and can take many months of searching to find the perfect house for your family. Before you let the excitement of buying and moving into your first home take over make sure there are no hidden problems by hiring a professional home inspector to perform a full home inspection. Here are some of the most common problem areas to inspect before buying your first new home.

Appliances

If the home you are buying already has appliances be sure to thoroughly check the machine, the electrical wiring, and any applicable warranties. Old and improperly installed appliances can be ticking time bombs and moving into a home thinking your appliances are safe can lead to disaster. Not all home sale inspections cover appliances so you may have to hire an additional inspector or take a look yourself.

Windows

Windows should be checked for drafts, cracks, condensation and problems opening and closing. Look at the glass as well as the locks, sliding mechanism and exterior screen to see if there are any problems. Most window problems are easy for a handyman to repair but they might also be a sign of other problems foundation damage.

The Attic

An attic is a home to many hidden dangers from rodent or bug infestations to rotting wood and broken shingles that can quickly cause thousands of dollars in damage if left unfixed.

While you may only access your attic every few weeks, your attic contains insulation, HVAC parts and piping, gas lines, electrical wiring and other things that can destroy a home if left unchecked. Be sure to check every part of your potential new home’s attic, including the stairs, with your home inspector before making a commitment.

Plumbing

Don't forget to inspect the plumbing

Many people take plumbing for granted, but a home with properly installed and maintained plumbing can be a valuable asset that you don’t notice until it stops working! Kitchen and bathroom sinks, toilets, showers and washer connection and pipe should all be checked for signs of corrosion, rust and leaks.

Remember, preventing leaks now can save thousands of dollars in water damage later.

Foundation

By making sure your new home has a good foundation beneath it you will be able to rest easy at night knowing that your new investment is free from structural problems.

While a few small cracks, some tree roots or doors and windows that stick might not seem like problems now they are signs that larger structural flaws could exist in the home. Be sure to walk the entire floorplan of the house, and listen for creaking boards that can signal sagging foundations.

The Garage

Moving into a home with a garage can be exciting, but garages are full of hidden problems and dangers. Concrete floors, homemade shelving, and rodent or bug infestations can all make your new garage a little more interesting.

If possible ask your realtor what the previous homeowner used the space for and try to make sure your usage will align. Be sure to look for extreme signs of wear and tear as well as damage to the walls or ceiling, paint or chemical spills and other signs of abuse.

Lawn and plants

BuyingYour First Home

Your lawn should bring a smile to your face, before buying your first house thoroughly inspect the front and back lawn in addition to any trees, shrubs or other large plants for potential problems. If your property has uncommon plants you might need to look up care instructions online or find an agricultural expert for advice. Also be sure to check any sprinkler systems used to water the lawn and plants and try to get instructions from the previous owner.

Exterior Structures

If your new home has an exterior structure like a gazebo, veranda or canopy you may be excited to invite your friends over, fire up the grill and show off your backyard. Before buying your first home with an exterior structure be sure that it is included in the pre-sale home inspection, or included in a secondary inspection. Large structures on your property can be liability nightmares, especially if they are homemade.

Pools, Spas and Hot tubs

Pools, spas, and hot tubs are exciting and fun but if they have cracks, leaks or have been improperly maintained repairing it might cost as much as a new pool. Even small cracks and leaks can cost thousands of dollars to fix in addition to costing you extra money every month on your water bill. In addition to looking for cracks and leaks check the chemical makeup of the water to test if the water has been properly maintained for the life of the pool. Algae and other water-borne contaminants can thrive in unmaintained pools. While draining the water can rid most pools of problems some can persists by living on the tiles.

Carpet

While many homes will get new carpet before being put on the market, some will keep their original carpet. Before purchasing your home be sure to look for spills, stains and other signs of wear and tear in addition to finding out who installed the carpet on what date. Some unscrupulous homeowners will try to get their carpets professional cleaned instead of replaced to save a few bucks, hoping it will look brand new. A good home inspector and the eyeball test should tell you the condition of the carpets before you sign a contract.

Electrical

Electrical wiring can always be a hazard, especially if you are buying a home that was built with old building codes. In the past building codes were much more relaxed when it came to electrical wiring and many wiring jobs in homes built in the 1970’s and 1980’s need to be replaced or updated to meet current standards. Two of the biggest problem areas for electrical wiring are the kitchen area and the washroom. In the kitchen improperly wired stoves and microwaves can cause a fire while cooking and bad wiring in the washroom and lead to dryer fires.

Insulation

One of the best ways to keep your home warm in the winter is to have it properly insulated. Unfortunately improperly installed or old insulation can cause more harm than it does good. Be sure your home inspector checks the insulation in the attic, walls and crawl spaces to determine if any repairs or additional insulation is required.

Basement

Not all houses have a basement or cellar but if your new home does make sure to have it thoroughly inspected for cracks, foundation problems, HVAC problems and other basement problems to make sure you don’t fall victim to a basement flood problem. While inspecting the basement check the sump pump, sump pump accessories and any window wells to determine their condition and if they need to be replaced.