PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

[IMAGE: Image of child looking out a window]Room by Room Inspection

In every room

Floors: They should be level, not sloping. To test this, place a ball in the middle of a room. If it rolls off to one side, the floor is probably sagging--which means that the foundation has been moving and there might be structural damage. Also be watchful for excessive wear and tear. Spots and odd discolorations on floors can be an indication of water damage.

Ceilings and Walls: Water damage can also be a major enemy of ceilings and walls and are a sign of a leaky roof. Cracks are another problem that affects ceilings and walls. Although small cracks are common, be wary of a house that has numerous large cracks. You should not be able to see any of the house's structural elements through wall cracks.

Specific areas

Kitchen: If you are planning on replacing existing appliances with new ones or ones that you are bringing from a former place of residence, make sure that they will fit in the space provided. Examine the sink and the pipes below it, checking for leaks and signs of rust. Also make sure there is a kitchen range hood above the range, which will help clear the air while you cook.

Bathroom: Is there a bath fan? If not, there could be moisture damage surrounding the bathroom because of the humidity given off by showers. Check all fixtures for signs of wear and tear, with an eye to chipped tiles, mildew and other stains. Also be sure to test the faucets and drains-and a quick on-and-off flick of the faucet won't do it. Fill tubs and sinks with water and make sure that they drain efficiently and that the flow remains steady. This is especially important in older houses, which often have outdated fixtures and inefficient drainage systems.

Attic: Because hot air rises, the attic should be well insulated, preventing excessive energy loss from the home into the attic air. Water stains in the attic can indicate holes in the roof, which could eventually undermine the structural stability of the house.

Basement: Beware of large cracks in the walls and floor of the basement. A slight slope in the floor won't cause major problems, but a significant slope could indicate a sinking foundation. Also be on the lookout for water damage and potential problems associated with excessive moisture.

If you haven't done so already, be sure to check on these areas both inside and out of the home. Make sure you bring PATH's home buying checklist.

Content updated on 2/21/2006

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