When you buy a home that's been lived in, you never really know what you're signing up for. You might think that the property looks like it's in good shape, but there could be problems lurking below the surface that are extremely costly to fix. And the last thing you want to do is buy a home only to encounter expensive repairs shortly after the fact.
Enter the home inspection. The purpose of a home inspection is to uncover potential issues that could cost you money as a new homeowner. That way, you can negotiate with your seller to fix those items prior to your closing or reduce the purchase price of your home to offset the costs of addressing the issues.
Here are a few key items to pay attention to in the course of your home inspection.
1. The roof
These days, a good roof can last for 20 years or more, depending on the materials used. During your home inspection, find out how old the roof is and get confirmation that it's structurally sound.
Look out for signs of leakage, like water stains on ceilings. The average cost of a new roof is $7,747, according to HomeAdvisor. That's not an expense you want to deal with right away.
2. The foundation
It would be a terrible surprise to buy a home and later find out it has a sinking or damaged foundation. If your potential home's foundation has major cracks, they'll generally be obvious -- that home's floors will be uneven, and doors will become dislodged from their frames. Numerous cracks in walls and doorways could also indicate a problem.
A major foundation repair could cost you $10,000 or more, though smaller cracks could be less than half that much to fix. Still, it’s not a headache you want to deal with.
3. The HVAC system
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems don't last forever and they can be expensive to replace. Make sure your would-be home's HVAC system is working properly before completing the purchase. Pay attention to issues like improper ductwork or a condenser that's on its way out -- neither is a quick or cheap repair.
You could easily wind up spending between $3,000 and $5,000 to replace your HVAC system, so make sure that's not on the horizon.
Mold isn't just unsightly; it can cause health issues and be very difficult and expensive to get rid of. The cost of mold remediation depends heavily on how extensive the damage is and where it is, so if your home inspector spots it, talk to your seller and do some serious negotiating.