“Due to the fact that a property investment can have such a significant impact on a buyer’s financial wellbeing, it is imperative to look past the aesthetic appeal of a home and focus rather on the integrity of the components that make up the property,” says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “While a home can be beautiful at first glance, there may be underlying elements that could end up costing the buyer a lot of money in the long run. While the seller is required to provide the buyer with a list of defects, it is still advisable for the buyer to be aware of certain aspects when viewing a property.”
Areas in the home such as bathrooms and kitchens are often exposed to moisture, which could cause the wooden elements in these areas to rot over time if not maintained. It is important that wood is treated and protected with a paint or finish that is specifically designed for this purpose. Exterior features such as decks or trims that are made from wood should also be checked as these will be exposed to the elements.
Loose or dangerous railings
While inspecting the exterior decks, it is vital to ensure that all the railings are fastened securely and that none are missing. This applies to any staircases or balconies as well – unstable or insecure railings can be very dangerous.
Adequate ventilation is essential to ensure that any moisture in the home can evaporate. Moisture that sits for extended periods of time can cause issues. Another important aspect to consider is the space between the roof and the ceiling. This area should be well ventilated to ensure the longevity of the roof. Weep holes and ventilation ducts will allow the intense heat in that space to escape, which will promote evaporation of the moisture and ensure that interior walls and structural elements stay dry.
While checking the roof buyers should look out for old, broken or missing tiles that need to be replaced. If the roof is in bad repair, it should not be ignored as a leaky or damaged roof can cause other costly problems elsewhere in the home.
Buyers should look under sinks for pipes that are leaking or need repairs. It is important to have all plumbing issues addressed before the purchase of the home goes through as this will save the buyer a lot of money in costly repairs.
Although the seller will be required to present an electrical compliance certificate to the buyer during the sale process, it is advisable to double check that electrical systems in the home are up to code. Outdated or faulty electrical systems can be extremely dangerous and cause breaker tripping or fire.
Drainage and water control
Poor drainage systems around the exterior of the home can lead to water and damp problems in low-lying areas around the property. This could cause penetrating damp as well as compromise the foundation of the structure if it persists. Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems. Make sure all drainage areas are properly graded and direct water away from the house. Buyers should also check that water control elements such as gutters and downspouts are well-maintained.
Although not always easy to spot, often homeowners who have lived in a home for extended period of time will have attempted to make some repairs themselves. Check the plumbing and electrical areas as these are the areas where DIY repairs are most commonly seen.
“If home buyers are in doubt, before they sign on the dotted line they should get a trained, certified inspector who can help them look for defects and guide them to a smart buying decision.