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Things To Look Out for When Buying a Lived-In House?

Anita Clark's picture
Pre-Owned Houses

Things To Look Out for When Buying a Pre-Owned House

Few milestones in our lives are as profound as buying a house.

For many, it is considered an ultimate sign of financial independence and a staple of being a mature adult. After all, houses are more expensive and harder to manage properly than even the biggest of flats. There are even those who consider them a sign of status, an integral part of going up in the social hierarchy.

Just because houses have many amazing benefits, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any problems involved either. As such, it is important to understand the typical issues plaguing these properties and how to recognize them.

Below you’ll find a few of the most important house-related problems to look out for when buying one, such as rusted springs in the garage door, presence of mold on the walls, poor state of insulation, leakages from the roof, damage to the structural integrity of the building and issues with electrical wiring. Explore the tips below and never worry again about buying a property in bad condition.
Things To Look Out for When Buying a Pre-Owned House

Rusted Torsion Springs in Garage Door

One of the most important parts of a garage door is its springs. They are what enables the door to open and shut, and they also make it stay in place when needed. If you want to make sure that this mechanism is in good shape and will serve you well in the long term, look out for rusted springs.

Rusted springs are an obvious indication that the garage door hasn’t been maintained properly and that there is a high probability that more serious problems lie beneath. If you find yourself in this situation, you should buy garage door torsion springs sooner rather than later, or you’ll risk damaging your garage door even further.

So, if you find any rust on the springs, have a look at all other parts of the mechanism to see how badly they have been affected by the rust. Doing this will help you estimate the additional costs you will have to pay after purchasing the house and find out whether the investment is worth the trouble.

Mold on the Walls

It is not uncommon for people to neglect a house a little bit when they purchase it, especially if they have just moved in. After all, it has been abandoned for a while, and they have their own things to take care of. However, neglecting the maintenance of the property can be detrimental in the long run. Mold is one of the biggest concerns here.

Moisture can get into walls from various sources, such as small cracks in the roof or inadequate insulation. In some cases, it can also be caused by water from inside the house seeping through to the outside walls. Regardless of the source, mold needs to be taken care of right away before it gets a chance to spread and cause even more damage.

Poor State of the Insulation

A house with good insulation is often said to be energy-efficient and comfortable to live in. A property without proper insulation, on the other hand, is likely to be drafty and cold throughout the year. Since houses tend to be quite expensive, it is crucial that you pay attention to this aspect of the property before you buy it.

The best way to do so is to have a look at its attic and crawl space. If you notice numerous holes in the insulation material or if it’s worn out in several areas, there is a great chance that your heating bills will skyrocket during the winter months. Even if you don’t plan on living in this house for much longer, you should still consider fixing the insulation before selling it. After all, no one wants to buy an unwelcoming home, right?

Leaks From the Roof

Roof leaks are another source of damage that commonly plague older properties. And while this problem can’t be fixed overnight, no matter how much you would like it to be, it is still better to address it before moving in.

First of all, leaks can cause structural damage to your home in several ways. For example, they can weaken the walls and cause them to crack due to excessive moisture exposure over time. Additionally, leaks are often an indication that the roof itself is damaged beyond repair or that it will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Remember that sometimes leaks are hard to spot because they are hidden behind walls or other elements of your property’s design. If something looks suspicious, don’t hesitate to have a professional take a look at it before you purchase the house.

Structural Damage

Another important thing to look out for when buying a house is any structural damage it might have sustained over time. Structural damage tends to creep up on buildings gradually until one day they finally crumble under their own weight. However, you can pay attention to certain signs to recognize this problem before it gets too serious.

For example, cracked floor tiles are often caused by shifting foundations or uneven floors. Similarly, broken windows are an indicator that your walls are starting to buckle under their own weight. Both of these issues should be taken care of immediately before they get out of hand and ultimately lead to major reconstruction efforts down the line.

However, keep in mind that taking care of these issues alone is not a long-term solution, as the faulty foundation will make them reappear after some time. To eliminate this problem once and for all, you need to improve the state of the home’s foundation. In case this solution is not possible, it is best you move on with your search.

Issues With Electrical Wiring

The last thing you want to see in an older house is damaged electrical wiring. This damage can be caused by numerous problems, such as faulty fuses or unstable power lines. The importance of paying attention to this problem is two-fold.

First of all, it might indicate that the structure of your home is already compromised, which is never a good sign. Secondly, electrical wiring can cause fires if it’s not properly installed, so the fewer issues with the wiring, the better.

If you record anything strange or suspicious about the electrical system, look for more clues before moving forward with this property. For example, if you notice strange smells coming from electrical outlets after using them, you should know that something is off about the house’s wiring.

Faulty Heating and Cooling Systems

Even if you are not an expert in all things HVAC, you should ask the homeowner about the condition of the home’s heating and cooling systems. They should be able to provide you with information about the type of systems the house has and how long they have been in use.

Furthermore, you can ask about the maintenance costs and the system’s history. Make sure to find out how much it might cost you to upgrade both of these systems if you wish to do so, as the costs of such operation can get really high.

If you are unsure whether you can correctly evaluate the system by yourself, consider contacting an expert that will help you with this task. A professional will quickly find out even the tiniest issue that later can turn into a massive problem.

Crooked Windows

If windows placed around the house seem to be a little wonky, it is most likely not the home’s unique feature. Instead, it is probably an inconvenience every homeowner would love to avoid having, a byproduct of structural issues or botched installation.

Luckily, if the latter is true, dealing with crooked windows should not take you too much time. While installing new windows is expensive, a specialist should do it in less than a day’s work.

Before you sign the deal, inspect if all the windows sit tight in their frames and slide easily. Additionally, you can check for lopsided frames and look at them from a distance to see if they perfectly align with the ceiling.

Plumbing Issues

A clogged toilet, dripping faucet, or low water pressure can make even the most peaceful homeowner boil with rage. While usually pretty straightforward to remove, these issues can persistently come back to disturb your daily routine by making your showers longer and water bills a lot higher.

To secure yourself from any additional stress, you should thoroughly examine the plumbing system in the home you wish to purchase. It is a wise idea to search for leaky pipes and check if the sewer line is in order.

While you are at it, you can also take a look at the water heater to see how well it is doing its job. If valves are giving way or corrosion or rust are interfering with water circulation in the tank, it is a clear indication that you will probably have to install a new one to enjoy hot water in your newly bought home.

Sagging Floors

Another element that you should inspect is the house’s flooring. If floors sag, ripple, or slope, it can indicate more serious problems, including something being wrong with the home’s structure. Water, humidity, insects, and human error are among the most common culprits that lead to sagging and uneven floors.

Pay attention to the type of flooring that is installed in various rooms and if it is adequate for them. For instance, if a garage and basement do not have a waterproof flooring, it can become a huge issue down the road. Consequently, you might be better off looking through some other offers instead of setting for something that will come with additional costs later on.

If the floors in the home you inspect are squeaky or just look a bit off, make sure to check the crawl space to determine whether the floor is sagging or not. If floor joists look worn-down and old, it is a clear indication that the floor is sagging or will start to sag shortly. In that case, you should add the cost of fixing sagging floor joists into the price of the house.

Broken Appliances

Even though all the appliances you see in home might look brand-new, it does not necessarily mean they are in good condition. Sometimes, everything is only staged to look flawless when, in reality, there can be many underlying issues just waiting to pop out in the most unfortunate moment.

Washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers can pose serious problems for homeowners. If the appliance was bought over ten years ago, it is almost guaranteed to start acting up soon enough — provided it already hasn’t.

In most cases, you can probably fix the issue yourself. You do not even need any prior experience as a repairman. Instead, you just have to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and look up some guides on the internet. Nevertheless, if you wish something to be done right, you will most likely need to hire a specialist, which can get costly.

If you have the opportunity to test appliances before purchasing the house — feel free to do so. Doing so will let you quickly detect some issues with them, which you can later use as leverage during negotiations with the homeowner. Besides, you can ask how old all of these items are. It will help you estimate how many problem-free years they have in them before they start breaking down.


All of the problems outlined above are usually easy to spot during a visual inspection. However, it is always better if you arrange for a professional to take a look at the house before you make a decision on whether or not to buy it. After all, it is never a good idea to make such a large investment without doing your due diligence first. A home inspection can save you from buying a new property that will require major repairs and renovations right after you move in.

Use the tips above, and don’t hesitate to ask the seller for more information about the house. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

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