Is purchasing a house something you envision for your future? Then get ready — this is one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime, so it’s a must to go about the property-shopping process meticulously and make sure that you get a great deal.

Having a house inspection done is one reliable way to determine whether a house’s value is consistent with the asking price or not. This is not just a smart strategy that buyers like you should adopt — it’s also required by Australian law.

Early observations

To ensure the thorough inspection of a house you are seriously considering buying, hiring the services of professional home inspectors is the recommended action.

But while you are still in the early stages of checking out properties that could potentially be included in your shortlist, you could practice doing some basic inspecting yourself. This is especially true if you are still only casually looking through properties through an open house.

So, if you are visiting different properties with your realtor soon and you want to get a solid idea of ways to check the structural and functional integrity of the property, here are five tips to help you out.

1.     Inspect certain rooms more thoroughly than others.

The attic, bathrooms, kitchen and garage require more of your attention when you come by to see a house.

Why?

The attic and garage are the areas where indoor heat is typically lost. They are also prone to pest infestations. Meanwhile, the kitchen and bathroom both have plumbing provisions installed. You will want to make sure that there are no leaking pipes, blocked drains and other plumbing issues.

If there are such issues in a house that you happen to be seriously interested in buying, the seller should be informed about them so they can have those fixed by a professional plumbing service. Alternatively, you might want to negotiate a new deal for the property if the seller fails or refuses to take care of repairs.

And speaking of negotiating a better deal for the house, an outdated kitchen entails lengthier discussions. If you will be needing a full kitchen renovation for the improved overall function of the space, this presents an opportunity to work out a more reasonable price.

Seasoned property buyers generally avoid paying top-of-the-market rates for an outdated property; you should be aware of this fact and take heed, too.

2.     Include the ceilings, walls, floors, doors and windows as well.

The condition of all these house features will have a reasonable impact on the quality of life you will experience if you were to move in.

For instance, check if doors and windows are broken or loose. If they are, that means the house’s HVAC system could be working extra hard (and failing) to regulate the indoor temperature, and consequently using more electricity than necessary. You will not like the monthly energy bill you will receive while living in a house in this condition.

Ceilings, walls and floors, on the other hand, shouldn’t have stains. Keep an eye out for wallpaper with bubbling or loosened areas. These signs indicate moisture issues in the house which may be caused by damaged plumbing. Pinpointing the exact source of the damage can be tricky, so you will need an experienced roof plumber for the job.

What’s more, if there is excessive moisture in the house, there could be a mold problem hiding somewhere as well. Certified building inspectors will tell you that molds are a serious problem that require professional removal. Plus, where there are molds, there are usually pests as well.

3.     Look over the exterior structures as well.

Step outside the house and have a look at the drainage systems, including the gutters. Also, check out the foundation and landscaping to make sure that everything is leveled and there is no growing vegetation that could affect the stability of the structure.

4.     Get an overall first-hand feel of the house.

A house should feel comfortably dry in its key areas. It should have a properly functioning HVAC system that maintains the ideal interior climate. Humidity should be low because a “moist” house, as previously mentioned, presents a lot of problems not only regarding the structural integrity of the house, but for the well-being of the residents as well.

5.     Ask about the year the house was built.

Many homes built before the 1980s contain asbestos. In such houses, asbestos would be present in old floor and ceiling tiles, shingles and flashing, insulation and other home components. Unfortunately, the presence of this naturally occurring fibrous mineral can lead to serious health risks for anyone exposed to it.

If an old house retains several “vintage” elements, there is a high likelihood that asbestos is present. If you are interested in the house, you could talk to builders or other professionals who are trained to handle asbestos during home repairs or renovations to gain more insight into its potential impact on your purchase. Otherwise, you could consider passing up that particular house and look for a newer and safer one.

You need to be dedicated and discriminating when looking for a home to buy because the purchase will provide you a truly valuable asset. As such, aim to actively learn what to keep an eye out for, and invest in hiring building and plumbing professionals to help you inspect the property you like the most. This way, you can be more confident that you’ll be making a truly informed buying decision.

Rod Diamond

Based in South Melbourne, Blue Diamond Plumbing was founded in 1985, working on new homes, repairs and commercial contracts. Over time they have grown to become some of the best plumbers Melbourne has to offer. Since 2001 the company has specialised in Emergency Plumbing and Property Maintenance, Repairs and Renovations for homes and businesses in Melbourne and inner city suburbs. Owner Rod Diamond has over 30 years experience with emergency plumbing in Melbourne's inner suburbs.

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