How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE

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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

   Also, a window or sliding glass door with a stick in it indicates that it doesn’t lock or doesn’t stay open. What’s the condition of the appliances? A dish drainer in the sink usually means that the dishwasher either does not work, or does not work well. Are there buckets or pans under the sink drains to catch leaks? Are there duct-tape repairs? Stains on the ceiling that indicate roof leaks?

   Often, rental are older and smaller houses. To get more square footage for higher rent, an investor will enclose a carport, garage, or porch. These remodeled spaces are often poorly done, with limited electrical receptacles and no air conditioning vents. Check for vents in add-on rooms and look for enough wall receptacles. Extension cords running along the baseboard are a sure sign of too few receptacles. Also, you may notice a temperature change when you enter one of these rooms, because the walls and ceilings are not insulated and the lack of a/c vents.

   A window air conditioner in a room of a home with central air conditioning indicates that the room does not get adequate air flow from the central system or the system is not working well. A dehumidifier in the corner of a room means something is wrong—there’s a water intrusion problem lurking somewhere.

   Ideally, if the house is still tenant-occupied, the tenants should not be present during your viewing of the home. Ask your realtor for it to be arranged. While it may seem that they would be a good source of information, tenants usually do not want the house to change hands and may exaggerate any problems. A TV blaring while you are there, a barking dog, or rooms you can’t go into because someone is sleeping are all distractions that make your job of carefully observing the house more difficult.

    Also, talk to the neighbors. They will be thrilled at the prospect of a rental house changing to owner-occupied, and can provide plenty of information you will never get anywhere else. Yes, you may meet a stone-faced type that is irritated at your knock on the door, but just move on to the next house and and you will find someone glad to talk with you.

   Because most former rental houses are fixer-uppers, be sure to get a home inspection to protect yourself. You will know from your own investigation that the home needs work, but a home inspector will help to quantify the amount of repairs necessary and probably find at least a few additional problems to address.

  To learn more valuable strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

  1. How can I make sure I don’t get screwed on my home inspection?

  2. Should I trust the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement?

  3. Can I do my own home inspection?

  4. How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a home over a sinkhole?

  5. What makes a house fail the home inspection?

  6. The seller gave me an old home inspection report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

  7. Why are expired building permits a problem for both the buyer and seller of a home?   

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

  1. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

  2. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  3. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

  4. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

  5. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

  6. What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property?

  7. What problems should I look when when buying a house that has been moved?

  8. What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

  9. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  10. What should I look for when buying a “flipper” house?

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection

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More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

  1. Should a home inspection scare you?

  2. What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

  3. Are you licensed and insured?

  4. We looked at the house carefully, and it seems alright. Do we really need a home inspection?

  5. Is a home inspection required?

  6. Should I be there for the inspection?

  7. What tools do you use for a home inspection?

  8. Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

  9. The seller has to fix everything you find wrong with the house, right?

  10. Can I do my own home inspection?

  11. Is it still possible to do an inspection if there’s no electricity or water?

  12. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  13. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

  14. Do inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

  15. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

  16. What happens at a home inspection?

  17. Does the home inspector also check for termites?

  18. What different types of specialized inspections can I get?

  19. What are the questions a home inspector won’t answer?

  20. What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector?

  21. What do I need to know about buying a 1950s house?

  22. What is the difference between a home inspection and a final walkthrough inspection?

  23. Should the seller be at the home inspection?

  24. What is the average lifespan of a house?

  25. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  26. Should I use my realtor’s home inspector or choose one myself?

  27. Should I use a contractor or a home inspector to inspect a house I’m buying?

  28. Should I get a home inspection before signing a contract to buy the house?

  29. Can a home inspector do repairs to a house after doing the inspection?

  30. What is a “continuous load path”?

  31. When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?

  32. Should I only hire an inspector that is a member of a national association like ASHi, InterNACHI, or NAHI?

  33. What is a “cosmetic” defect in a home inspection?

  34. Where are the funny home inspection pictures?

  35. Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection?

  36. Why do realtors call some home inspectors “deal killers”?

  37. How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

  38. Does my home have to be inspected to get insurance?

  39. Who should pay for the home inspection?

  40. Can you do a home inspection in the rain?

  41. What are the most Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) at a home inspection?

  42. What are the common causes of ceiling stains in a house?

  43. What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

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