You have looked at several homes and have narrowed it down to one or two favorites. Things are getting serious now. You have scheduled your second showing and want to spend more time looking at your potential new home. You have seen the home once. What do you look for on your second visit?
Now is the time to pay close attention to, among other things, the roof. It can be quite expensive to replace or repair a leaky roof. It is best to consider the condition of the roof before making an offer so you can calculate that into your offer. Fortunately, even if you aren’t skilled in roofing, a good home inspector will take a close look at your roof and recommend either repairs or further inspection by a roofing specialist if needed, after contract during the inspection period. NOTE: A roof in need of repairs is usually not a deal-killer but a negotiating point in your offer or inspection phase. When necessary, I can and often do get roofs replaced by the seller prior to closing.
When looking at the roof, pay particular attention to these items.
- Sagging roof. Make sure the roof line is straight with no sags. A sagging roof can mean structural damage in the rafters.
- Worn or chipped roof shingles. Most roofs in Oklahoma are covered with asphalt shingles. Look closely for tiles with the “granules” worn off the shingle. Watch for shingles with chips or edges broken off. Again, your home inspector will look closely at your roof, but it is good to be aware of potential problems BEFORE making an offer.
- Roof joints, flashing and valleys. Pay close attention to the seams and joints where roof lines meet, where the roof meets the chimney, and how the roof flashing fits around pipes and vents. These should be sealed tight with no evidence of standing water or wear.
Most houses in Oklahoma are built with a foundation and slab-on-grade. The foundation is poured into the ground and slab is poured inside the foundation and should move independently of the foundation. The foundation is what holds the walls of the house up. You want to look for major cracks in the foundation around the home. It is very common in Oklahoma for soil to shift, whether it is from our hot and cold weather or our frequent small earthquakes. Cracks in bricks don’t necessarily mean a crack in the foundation. Cracks in bricks, driveways and sidewalks should never be a deal-killer. Foundation cracks are more serious. They can be resolved with piers, but these can be expensive. It is quite common to find older homes with cracks in the foundation. You just want to make sure they have been addressed, or take the potential piering costs into consideration when making your offer.
Soffits are the area underneath the roof that seal off the underside of the roof from the elements. Most homes in Oklahoma have sealed soffits. Look for wear, rotting, and most importantly, open holes or major cracks and wood splitting in the soffits. While these are easily repaired, it can be an indication of a home that has not had proper maintenance.
As pretty well everyone who has owned a home knows, HVAC system repairs can get really expensive, really fast. They are one of the most expensive subsystems in most homes. Hence, you will want to pay close attention to the HVAC system. While it is not possible to do thorough inspection unless you are an experienced HVAC contractor, there are a few clues to look for when doing your second walk-through.
- Compressor – Is the outdoor compressor in good shape? Does it look well-maintained? Faded paint is less of a worry than bent cooling fins. Like a car radiator, the fins dissipate the heat from inside the home. If the fins are bent or damaged then the compressor will be less efficient. Make sure the area where the compressor sits is clean, shows no evidence of flooding, and is not a place for sticks and leaves to gather. It should have good airflow so the heat from the compressor is easily dissipated.
- Air Handler Unit – Open the door to the air handler unit and look for tell-tale signs of leaks. Mold around the floor is a bad sign. There might be dust on the floor and this is not a problem, but you don’t want mold and mildew in the area. This means the drain is stopped or leaking and can be indicative of larger problems. Make sure the filters are in decent shape and there are no mops and brooms and stuff all around the unit – again indicating poor maintenance.
- Vent boots – if possible, open a vent boot and look inside. They should be clean and free of rust. Vent boots can be repaired and cleaned, but rust can be a major problem and indicative of water under the foundation.
It takes a practiced eye to look at a yard and understand where the water goes during our sometimes torrential rains. Try to think about where the water comes from and where it goes during heavy rains. Will water from the neighbor run into your yard? If so, where does it go? Will it go into your garage or is there proper drainage out to the street? How about the water coming off your roof? Will it stand in the area between houses? Will it run to the front or back yard? You want to make sure water doesn’t pool around doors, the patio and your garage. While most drainage problems can be fixed, they can be expensive, especially if you have to install french drains. And drainage problems may not show up for years after purchasing a home. The drainage might be fine for normal rain, but an unusually heavy rainfall could mean water floods your garage or house. If you see anything suspicious, you may want to have a drainage expert look at the home during the inspection period.