The condition of a property directly affects its value. Unless you have at least some considerable experience, you may likely not fully understand what you are venturing into when it comes to evaluating the condition of the property you are interested in buying or renting.
You could get into muddy waters if you don’t conduct thorough property inspection before purchasing a property. It’s always important to conduct property inspection, even if the property is a brand new one.
Each property is only as good as its weakest link—if present, and a physically unsound property or its degrading/degraded environment is not always a good investment, unless you’re planning to make it good. This can require more resources, money, or effort than ever imagined.
An old or new property may look good from the outside and also on paper, but if you don’t conduct property inspection to confirm the actual status or condition of the property, you’d hardly be able to determine whether there are any potential legal or financial issues or concerns.
Before you eventually cash in on that property that you’re so hooked into, ask for permission to conduct a brief interior, exterior, and environmental inspection before deciding whether to make your offer.
A proper property inspection can reveal items in or aspects of a property that the seller of might not have noted or repaired/fixed, and items or aspects could have a greater or lesser value, depending on how much they cost or is required to repair them.
Regardless of how you feel about a property, it is not advisable to forego property inspection just to save money, time, or effort; neither is it advisable to cut corners nor allow your judgement to become tainted—just because you have some emotional attachment to a property.
There are generally three types of inspections you should be aware of, along with some major aspects of properties that require some level of inspection: (Alternatively, you can seek the services of an experienced real estate practitioner—but still focus on the following types of property inspection):
1. Physical or structural inspection
As a buyer or renter, it’s important to inspect all the physical features or aspects of the property you are interested in. You can request for the services of an architect or real estate practitioner who would not only conduct inspection to look for flaws or problems but also help to determine any changes or improvements that can enhance the outlook and value of the property. Learn to move on to another potential property or investment if you’re not convinced that your plans for a particular property aren’t fiscally or structurally feasible at the moment.
It is important to inspect the following physical/structural aspects of any property:
- the overall physical condition or features.
- the strength or structural integrity.
- the floor, subflooring, foundation/slab, crawl space, basements, and decks.
- the doorways, walls, and windows.
- the roof and attic.
- the plumbing systems, including the supply lines, fixtures, and drains.
- the water-heating devices and electrical systems, including groundfault circuit-interrupters (GFCI) and all service panels and generators.
- the life safety systems, including intrusion alarms, smoke detectors, fire alarms or fire panels, carbon monoxide detectors, and radon detectors.
- the air conditioning and heating systems.
- the degree of moisture intrusion and insulation.
- the landscaping, drainage, and irrigation of the environment.
- the level of soil subsidence (sinking), land movement, flood risk, or degree of seismic activities—if present.
- the extent of illegal additions or construction and zoning violations—if present.
The following signs indicate the likely presence of physical or structural issues which may require further investigation:
- Imperfectly or badly aligned structure: You can use a handy laser level or any appropriate tool to assess whether any walls, floors, and ceilings are out of plumb or unevenly/improperly aligned. Doors and windows should be checked to ensure that they are not misaligned.
- Cracks: Check the entire property for cracks—including the walls, ceilings, floor coverings, window and door frames, foundation, chimney, retaining walls, etc. Some cracks may indicate a more serious underlying issue that needs to be assessed by a qualified property inspector or other qualified professional.
- Unlevelled or squishy floors: Check whether there is any unlevelled part of the floor or any slant or sloping of the floor which can be easily detected by using a level. Also, be on the lookout for any spongelike or soft spots in the flooring on all levels—ground or upper—if the property has a raised foundation with a basement or crawl space.
- Moisture intrusion and plumbing leaks: Carefully look for any signs of water encroachment or intrusion which, if present, can cause serious health issues—the types that are linked to environmental toxins and mold. Search for indications of leaks such as stains and discoloration on walls, ceilings, and especially around door and window frames. Check for all possible sources of moisture or leaks: under sinks, toilets, supply lines for faucets, dishwashers, roofs, windows, sprinklers, and water supply lines and drainage that is away from the property or building. Ensure that the overflow drain in each sink and bathtub is neither clogged nor leaking, and all overflow drains are properly connected to the property’s general or overall sewer and drainage systems; furthermore, ensure that all drains are properly installed and maintained, and the property as a whole drains properly.
- Soil issues: Any notable presence of excess groundwater, cracked/bulging retaining walls, or poor drainage can be a sign of soil issues such as ground subsidence or slope failure which may require further inspection by a soil, environmental, or civil engineer.
2. Inspection to determine the extent of general property damage and required pest control
A thorough property damage inspection is needed to determine the damage caused by organisms that incessantly break down, infect, and destroy wood and other kinds of building materials. After determining any damage, effective pest control needs to be administered to eliminate pests and the damage they have caused.
Pest control firms may be most appropriate for this type of inspection, especially as they are capable of determining more than only the damage and presence of infestations by bedbugs, powder post beetles, termites, carpenter ants, and other kinds of wood-destroying insects that produce infestations or infections which have to be eradicated at once to protect the property from serious damage and structural deficiency that could endanger the property or occupants, if not corrected. Infestations and infections can cause problems that may even cost substantially more to repair in the future if they are not resolved at the moment—now!
3. Inspection to detect the presence or extent of environmental issues
The uncertainty around and potential problems that stem from properties located in environmentally challenged locations/areas is so significant that inspection of the environment should be conducted and considered before paying cash for a property.
Therefore, regardless of how cheap a property is, only purchase it if there is a clear environmental report that gives it a pass, especially from radioactivity, flooding, ground subsidence, and anything that degrades the environment, humans, and animals.