on Apr 22, 2019

Your home is a sanctuary from outside pressures and an expensive investment. Though many homebuyers will protect their purchase with a formal home inspection, it can be expensive and time-consuming to find a qualified professional. 

Savvy homeowners can continue to protect themselves from future tedious, stressful repairs by becoming their own home inspectors. Regular reviews for common issues help stop problems before they start. 

At a minimum, have a good ladder, flashlight, and a screwdriver. For a pre-purchase inspection, Family Handyman suggests also having a receptacle tester to verify all outlets are functional and to catch any electrical problems. 

You could do an annual inspection, but seasonal checks will reveal different problems. Pests may take refuge from the heat of summer, while winter and spring storms will show leaks and drainage problems. Set aside time every few months to check for enemies of the estate including pests, water damage, and basic repairs. 

Every homeowner’s worst nightmare is to become the neighborhood’s circus fumigation tent. Bugs and rodents aren’t just unpleasant. Pests like termites and bedbugs, and even rodents like rats and mice, can damage your home and your health. Keep your home safe from a hostile takeover by stopping pests before they spread. Look for pests in these locations: 

Small dirt tubes, indicating subterranean termites 

Small holes in eaves and foundations or unscreened vents in attics and crawl spaces that allow mice, rats, or wasps to enter and nest. 

Pinholes in drywall and baseboards, especially with signs of coffee ground-like droppings, indicating drywood termites. 

Small rodent or insect holes in cabinets, especially near water sources and food supplies. 

Bug bites on family members, animals that seem to scratch more often, or hard “dirt” powder in bedding or furniture, indicating fleas or bedbugs. 

Image via Flickr by State Farm 

Our bodies and our planet need water to survive, but despite the benefits, water in the wrong place can be costly and destructive to any home. Here are some things to look for: 

Water stains on the ceiling, walls, and in cabinets under sinks. 

Floor discoloration or bubbling particularly in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas. 

Discoloration or warping of door frames, baseboards, wainscoting, and wood trim. 

Wobbly or leaking toilets and water heaters. 

The land is graded so water moves away from foundations, drains are functional. 

Gutters are functional and route water away from the house. 

It can be tempting to put off home maintenance, repairs, or replacing old appliances. Avoiding household problems like an old, poorly functioning heater or air conditioner can become more expensive in energy expense and frustrating if ignored. Check for these signs that it’s time for a new HVAC system. 

  • Leaks in washing machines and dishwasher plumbing. 

  • HVAC systems (Heating-Ventilation-Air Conditioning) function properly and filters have been replaced. 

When purchasing a new home, nothing replaces a professional home inspection, but with a little time and know-how, you can protect your investment, and your sanity, long after you buy. 


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