Almostall Home-Buyers hire a home inspector to examine the home they want to purchase, and it's considered largely impractical to inspect every home that you may be looking at. If there's a home that seems right for you, and you are willing to put an offer on it - that's the one you want an inspection on but here are some Calgary New Home Red Flags to be wary of.
Now, no home is perfect and there will always be some minor problems with any house that you are looking at. However, by being observant and using your senses you may be able to make a realistic assessment of the conditions of the home. Or, if you're a realtor, you can save your client a lot of headache.
Here are some of the obvious red flags that may lead you to believe that the home you are looking at may have some problems that are beyond what may be considered normal wear and tear of the property.
We can start by examining the exterior of the home:
If the ground around the foundation doesn’t slope away from the house, it could be causing water to run down the foundation walls and into the basement. It is recommended that the ground slope away about one inch per foot to ensure proper drainage away from the basement. The main cause of basement moisture problems is poor grading and roof gutters that do not extend away from the home by at least 4-5 feet.
The vast majority of concrete basement cracks are of no concern. They are a result of shrinkage in the concrete as it cures. Cracks can also be caused by minor settlement, which is not unusual. The cracks will usually form in the middle portion of the basement. These cracks are vertical in nature and are fairly even in width. Cracks that are larger than ¼ inch in width and are not vertical in nature can indicate a more significant amount settlement in the foundation and may require further investigation. In fact, we have a whole article on what foundation cracks you should be wary of here.
Asphalt shingles have a life cycle of about 20 years while wooden roof coverings have a life cycle between 25-30 years.
The slope of the roof ( the steeper the better) and the colour (the lighter the better as it will reflect the heat) are usually the determining feature of your roofs life span. When looking at any roof a fairly good evaluation can be done by standing back and looking up at it from the ground. If the shingles are curled at the edges and do not lay flat they are nearing the end of their life and will probably need to be replaced sometime in the near future.
Have you ever gotten that sour smell from an old dishcloth? Well that's mildew, and it can occur in other places in your home where there's a moisture issue. Mildew odors in the basement mean it probably suffers from water seepage. This is best detected when you first go into the basement as your senses will get accustomed to the odor quickly and it will not be as notable over a short period of time.
If there are a number of air fresheners present, the homeowner may be trying to cover up these odors. It is important to note that some basements in the summer will seem a bit damp and cool. This is natural, as most sellers will turn off the heat during the warmer months and there's often poor venting in a basement.
The way items are stored in the basement could reveal some information about potential moisture, leakage, cracks or other problems. If the homeowner has their belongings located in all areas of the basement, you may feel that they are not worried about basement moisture or leakage problems. If you see belongings located up on shelves or pallets and nothing on the floor in the basement, you may get the feeling that they are experiencing some moisture issues. Other times, you might observe all items piled up in a certain part of the basement. This may indicate a problem is trying to be concealed. Be wary, and don't be afraid to ask questions!
Be aware of brown water stains on the walls. These stains will appear as wavy watermark lines on the drywall or basement framing. You may see rust on nails or staples in the vapor barrier at the bottom of the wall. Look for these especially in the areas where the outside downspouts are near the basement. Other clues of moisture problems may be freshly painted walls or basement floor.
IN THE HOUSE
Look for stains on the ceilings in areas under kitchens or bathrooms. Often these stains are from prior roof, toilet, plumbing fixtures or kitchen appliance leaks. Water can travel so it’s best not to assume that the source of the leak is directly above the stain. The home inspector will use a moisture meter to determine if there is an ongoing problem.
There is an increasing and surprising number of homes that have been former illegal grow ops. Here are a list of some clues, that when observed altogether, may lead to the assumption that a grow operation inhabited this home. We also have a video here on recognizing a home that could possibly have been a former grow op.
Red tape residue around ducts or vent pipes.
Spray foam sealing any openings in the ceiling.
Lots of staples in the floor joists and unexplained screw holes.
Signs of soil, plant pot circles on the floor or other types of things that you would not normally find in a basement.
Look under the electrical panel for damage to the basement wall where theelectrical system may have been breached to steal power.
There are many things about old houses that are not necessarily a big problem, but may cause some extra headaches and costs to the new Home-buyer. Old knob and tube wiring may need to be replaced. Some homes may have old steel water lines that some insurance companies may want replaced. Old 60 amp services will need to be upgraded to 100 amp. Aluminum wiring that was used from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s can also be a concern for insurance companies. Old windows, furnaces and many other things may need to be replaced or upgraded over time. The new homeowner needs to be aware of these additional costs if they're going to invest in an older home.
In the dead of winter, when all the windows are open, candles are burning in every room, incense plug ins are situated in every outlet and the heat is on at full blast, you may be genuinely suspicious that there is something not quite right about this house. If the homeowner is refusing to let you view all parts of the house OR is refusing to allow something to be turned on, you may again be suspicious that there is a problem.
So just remember, not every house is perfect, but some houses are less perfect than others. Keep your eyes and ears open and you may be able to spot problems in a potential home!