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- Evaluate the Home Exterior
Evaluate the Home Exterior
Here are some tips on how to inspect the roof, gutters, and overall structure.
Before you buy a home, you should hire a professional inspector to conduct a thorough analysis of the true state of the house, beyond what meets the eye.
But taking a step back for a minute, you can narrow down the field of houses you're considering by developing a more educated eye. You'll want to learn how to distinguish between a major structural issue and a minor cosmetic matter. You'll want to make a list of required and desired changes. Keep that list top of mind when evaluating the asking price of the home and what you're prepared to offer.
House Styles: Learn about the most common house styles so that you can properly read the real estate listings. You might want to watch my video tours of historic homes in Cambridge or An Architectural Tour of Harvard Square as a fun first step.
“Intake Session”: Pretend you’re a doctor conducting a first physical exam of a patient. Find out as much about the patient’s (house’s) history as you can, such as how long the current owners have lived there, what changes they’ve made, what condition the house’s exterior is in, why they are selling the house.
Roof of the House: Pay particular attention here. Problems with the roof will be expensive to address. Don’t climb up on a ladder to investigate, but ask questions. Find out when the roof was put on the house and what materials were used. Find out if the roof has leaked in the past and if so, how and when it was repaired. Look at the pitch of the roof. Know that a flat roof, or even one with a gentle pitch, can be difficult to waterproof. Find out if the roof has been re-covered with two additional layers of shingles on top of the original layer. This might be a local building code violation and can cause structural issues. If you see water stains on the walls and ceilings, chances are there is a leaky roof. This will mean financial and structural problems down the road. However, don’t be fooled by the absence of water stains as they may have been hidden by a new paint job. Test the ventilation by placing a thermometer in the attic on a warm and relatively wind-free day. If the temperature is 10 or 15 degrees more than what it is outside, you’ll know that there isn’t adequate air flow. This causes problems in summer and winter and can compromise the effectiveness of your house’s insulation.
Gutters: Determine how well they have been maintained. Neglected gutters become clogged and then rotted, and can lead to a wet basement when backed up water spills out. Look for splits or missing portions of the gutter. This may indicate an ice dam problem, a serious matter that causes ruined ceilings, walls, and floors. Note deteriorated gutters or sealant around chimneys and other elements that project through the roof as these can also contribute to a leaky roof.
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