Five Top Tips for Home Buying!


Five Top Tips for Home Buying came about from a conversation over dinner.  Knowing that I was a home inspector, I was asked ”What are some key points a new home buyer should consider when looking at property?”   I took the topics we discussed and put them in this report with the intention to help you determine whether you think a house is up to par before you get into the buying process.  Once you decide you're interested in purchasing the home, it's time to call in an experienced, professional home inspector to make sure all the systems are working correctly and there aren't any structural defects that could be unsafe or cause                                                               problems in the future.


1. Water - Drainage

Water is the great equalizer, the "Driver of Nature", a force to be reckoned with and should be one of the first considerations when buying a house. 

·        What's the average rainfall, snowfall and where does this water go? 

·        Does a creek that is a trickle when you first see it hold the potential to become a raging, destructive torrent following an excessively heavy rain or snow melt? 

·        Is the property in a flood plain or part of a high water table?

Approaching the house, take note of the overall topography.  Is it level or inclined, does it slope towards the house or away.  The ground should be sloped away from the house creating ‘positive drainage’.  As you walk around the house look for natural drainage ways leading away from the house for the surface runoff to follow.  Keep an eye out for water management or drains, signs of puddling where water may have pooled                                                      and any evidence of erosion or possible erosion from water.




2. Structure:  Roof - Foundation - Exterior Walls

Looking at the roof, notice any signs of sagging, uneven or damaged sections.  Unevenness could be nothing more than poor installation of a second layer of shingle or it could be a warped roof deck.   It could also be symptomatic of a structural problem or a problem that has been corrected.   Either way, make note of it and make sure you mention it to your Home Inspector.   He or she will know what to look for in determining the cause.

Look at the foundation as you walk around the house.   Are there any long open cracks, bowing or flaking in the wall? If the house is raised with a crawlspace, see if access to the area under the house is safe and easy.   This will come in handy during final inspection and if a repair person ever has to go under the house.  

If there is a basement, look for signs of moisture and cracks in the foundation walls.  If the house is built into a hill, note the type of floor in the buildup (dirt, gravel, or concrete, et al.) and again look for any signs of moisture. Sometimes an underground spring will show up after heavy rain or snow and you'll see old water trails in the dirt or gravel.

Take a good look at the exterior walls as you walk around the house.  Notice the condition of the paint or stain and if it's stucco note any cracks.  If the siding is aluminum or vinyl, look for any missing pieces.  Are there signs of repairs, bulging or gaps in the siding?








3. Vehicle Access - Driveway, Parking, Garage

Is the driveway at least 8 feet wide (9 feet would be better) and does it slope up or down towards the house.  If it slopes towards the house, there could be some drainage issues that will need to be addressed.  Is there room for the driver to turn the car around in order to head out instead of back out into the traffic?   Also take note of the surface.  Dirt could turn into mud, gravel could shift and make low spots and if the surface is asphalt or concrete note any cracked areas.

Is there a garage?  Is the garage detached from the house or is it attached?  When the garage is not attached to the house look at it using the same parameters as you would for a house; check for proper drainage, look at the foundation, and exterior, interior walls, roof, etc. 

When the garage is attached to the house; is the access door between the house and the garage a solid, self-closing door?  Are there any holes in ceiling or walls that could allow exhaust gases from your automobiles to enter the house? 


4. Electrical & Plumbing

As you walk up to the house take a note of the electrical wires.  If the wires are visible overhead, note if they pass through any trees and that they are fastened securely to the house.  Find the meter and service panel and look around for any outside outlets.  The service panel should be securely fastened to a wall and any outside electrical outlet should be weatherproof and GFCI protected.  Inside, look for smoke detectors in the bedrooms, GFCI outlets in bathrooms and the kitchen, flip switches for lights and look at plugs for any looseness or missing cover plates.  If the kitchen has an under-sink disposal, don’t turn it on without looking into the drain first.  You never know if someone left something down there.  If a bathroom doesn’t have a window it should have an electric vent fan. 


Does water come out when you turn the tap? Do the toilets flush?  Is anything appear to be leaking?  Does the water come from a well or the municipality?   Is it a municipal sewer system or a septic system?   

5. Heating and Cooling

If the house you are looking at has a central HVAC system, ask how old it is and where it is located.  Does it turn on when you operate the thermostat? Does every room have a duct?  One important thing to remember is not to test the air conditioning if the outside temperature is below 50 degrees.  If the house doesn’t have a central HVAC system, how is it heated.  Will every room receive adequate heat? 

Will you need to cool the interior during the summer months?  If so is there a system such as an evaporative cooler in place and again - where is it located and how old is it.


Buying a home does not need to be stressful or complicated. Choosing a qualified and experienced home inspector can give you the knowledge and confidence you need to make sound decisions when buying a home. 

Here at Andrews Real Estate Inspections our comprehensive inspections conducted in accordance with the standards of practice established by the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) and our commitment to honesty and accuracy bring peace of mind to every client.


We take the time to do the job right.  We understand how important a real estate purchase is to you.  You are welcome to accompany us during the inspection and our job is not complete until we have answered all of your questions.

Andrews Real Estate Inspections/