What Exterior Items to Check When Buying a Home

When you’re in the market for a new home, you’re going to look for certain things: does it have the space you need and a layout you like? Is it in a good neighborhood? Does it have out of date kitchens and baths that need to be updated? Does it get good light? Does it have the backyard you want? Everybody remembers these things and while they are certainly important, just as important are some of the more subtle aspects of the home that may affect your investment and your life, if extreme enough. We are in the business of making the exteriors of homes beautiful and functional so we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here’s our list of exterior items you want to take a few minutes to check out before you make an offer on a home.

Foundation

What type of foundation is it? A block foundation is weaker and more susceptible to leaks than a concrete foundation. If it is a concrete foundation, check for cracks that may allow water seepage or uneven settling, which may affect both the foundation and the structure of the house itself. Walk the perimeter of the house to take a look at the entire foundation. Make sure to look behind any bushes or long grasses that may be hiding foundation flaws.

Grade of Property

What is the lay of the land surrounding the house? Does it flow downward toward the house or out away from the house? In the former case, flooding can be a serious concern. Make sure you check each side of the house.

Settling

Even in areas where earthquakes aren’t common, like most of the Chicagoland area, houses will inevitably settle as the ground shifts slightly and as wood frames ever so slightly expand and contract during temperature extremes. Some settling is inevitable, but as houses age, poorly built houses or houses on particularly soft soil can settle in ways that damage the structure. Telltale signs are cracks in a brick façade or uneven windows.

Downspouts

Downspouts should guide and deposit water far from the foundation of the home. If they don’t, water can pool around the foundation, causing erosion and damage that may lead to leaks.

Roof

Without even getting on a ladder, you can do a quick visual inspection of the roof. If you see curling or missing shingles or unevenly placed shingles that may be a sign that the shingles are slipping, make sure to have a home inspector do a thorough inspection of the roof and the areas directly below the roof. A compromised roof can ruin an entire home.

Chimney

Many people don’t realize the problems that a damaged chimney can cause. If you see bricks that are missing, crumbling, or out of alignment, this is a sign that an expensive chimney repair may be needed.

Windows

Check window sills and casings from both the inside and outside. Any rotting wood may be signs that water damage may be more extensive than what you can see.

Siding

Aside from missing or uneven siding, peeling paint can be a sign of more than just wear and tear. While paint will sometimes peel simply due to age, peeling paint can also be evidence that moisture is seeping behind the siding – and this can cause damage to the internal structure of your house.

Concrete Stoops, Patios, and Walks

Is the concrete in these areas in good repair? Cracked, crumbling, and even uneven concrete can be evidence of ongoing water damage. Check the property grade and downspouts to see if the source of the water is obvious and determine whether this is an easy fix or something more complex.

This list is in no way a substitute for a professional home inspection and, in fact, we highly recommend that you always hire a professional to inspect any piece of property you are considering purchasing. But, the flip side of this is that having a professional home inspection doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to inspect your investment yourself. The damages on this list don’t necessarily mean you should cancel a potential purchase, but you should get information on whether or not these things will be fixed or how they might be accounted for in the price.

If you’ve purchased a home that needs exterior repairs or if your current home needs a little sprucing up, give us a call at (847) 531-8960. From roofing to siding to windows and doors, we have the products and professionalism to make your home the best it can be.

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