A few little and hidden things to look out for when buying a house

Whether buying a house for personal use or as an investment, there are countless things to look at and consider.

However, it is often the “little things” and hidden things that end up costing home buyers and investors a lot of money after a purchase is completed.

Here are some of the more creative things missed when purchasing a home:

  1. Make sure bathrooms have an electrical outlet. I know this sounds ridiculous, but this can be an issue, especially in older homes that have been renovated. Often a previous owner can cut corners by using the electrical outlet as a light switch. Having to have a certified installation can run well over $1000, depending on the electrical work required.This is also surprisingly missed sometimes by home inspectors.
  2. Make sure bathrooms have proper ventilation. Mold and mildew are prime causes of huge replacement costs. Be sure to check if windows in a bathroom open and that vents are installed and work properly.
  3. Make sure included appliances work. This is from personal experience. My wife and I purchased a home with a microwave above the stove. The microwave turned on, the light inside turned on, the food spun around, we heard the whirring noise, but nothing was actually being cooked. Turns out the actual microwave part was broken, but everything else worked.
  4. Especially when dealing with slab foundations, make sure you know that if copper pipes are run through the concrete foundation, depending on the materials in the concrete, corrosion can occur. This one is a quite a bit harder to find out.When I rented a home a few years ago, I was aware that the foundation was a slab foundation, but that was about it. Turned out the concrete mixture in the foundation was slightly acidic, and one of the copper water pipes running through the foundation corroded and split open.The plumbing company that came in could not fix the pipe in the foundation because it was a post tension slab foundation. Cutting into the foundation could cut the tensioned wires, releasing tens-of-thousands of pounds of pressure, which could potentially split the house in two. They ended up running the pipe above ground from the outside and through the walls – which will as a consequence lower the value of the home.Now there was really no way for me to know as I was not the original owner when the home was built. However, the plumbing company did reveal some inside information that they had to fix quite a few other homes in the neighborhood over pipes breaking in the foundation. It may be possible to extract information from local companies if there is an unusual amount of issues going on in a particular neighborhood. Good thing I was only renting there…
  5. Make sure laundry rooms have a dryer vent. I’ve seen plenty of older houses without them. They just used a dryer vent box. If a laundry room is in the middle of a house and without a vent, it could get costly or could even be impossible to install a proper vent.
  6. Beware the HOA bylaws. Some have very strict bylaws such as no parking along the street or no basketball hoops in front of a house. The previous HOA I lived under did not allow home owners to modify their own front yards and did not allow people to restore classic cars in their garage. You can find out from other owners in the neighborhood if the HOA enforces strictly or is more lax.

Have any other things to look out for? Have any horror stories? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Photo Credit

Photographer: Julie A. Wenskoski

Leave A Comment