Defects to look out for when buying a home

Irrespective of whether you are an experienced property investor or a person getting into the market for the first time, purchasing a property is a major investment that should be considered carefully, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“Buying a property can have a major impact your financial well-being, so it is vital to look past the cosmetics of the property and get down to the integrity of the components that make up the property. On the surface, a home could be stunning, but there might be underlying issues that, if overlooked, could cost you a lot to repair. Although sellers are required to provide you with a list of defects that they are aware of, it is best to be aware of certain aspects when viewing a property,” advises Goslett.

Here are a few elements to look out for:

Rotting wood

If not maintained properly, wood that is often exposed to moisture, such as in kitchens and bathrooms, will rot over time. The wood should be painted or treated with a finish that is specifically designed for this purpose. Wooden exterior features such as decks or trims should also be checked as these will be exposed to the elements.

Hazardous railings

From a safety perspective, ensure that all railings on decks, staircases and balconies are attached securely and that none are missing. Unstable or insecure railings can be very dangerous.

Adequate ventilation is required to ensure that any moisture in the home can evaporate. When water or moisture sits in an area for an extended time frame – it can cause issues. The space between the roof and the ceiling is an aspect that should be paid special attention, as the ventilation in this area ensures 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.
Roofing issues

Look out for any old, broken or missing tiles on the roof that need to be replaced, or rust patches on metal roofs. A damaged or leaky roof will cause issues inside the home, which could be costly to fix – not to mention cost of fixing or replacing the roof.
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. Water logged areas 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.  Ensure that all drainage areas are properly graded and direct water away from the house. Also, check that water control elements such as gutters and downspouts are well-maintained.
DIY repairs

Not always an easy thing to spot, but often homeowners who have lived in a home for an extended period will have attempted to make some repairs themselves.  Check the plumbing, and electrical areas as these are the areas where DIY repairs are most common.
“If you are not sure of anything, have a professional inspector look at the home to provide you with feedback before signing on the dotted line,” Goslett concludes.

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