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Home Inspection Checklist For Buyers

Nothing Lasts Forever

This is especially true when it comes to the major components of your home — appliances break, roofs leak, paint chips, carpets fade and all manner of things simply wear out. So when you’re checking out that next real estate purchase, remember to investigate the age and condition of breakable parts before you buy any home or rental property.

Even though something as simple as a ruptured plumbing line or a leaking water heater can potentially be disastrous as well as expensive to repair and clean up, it’s usually the last thing a buyer is looking for about on open-house Sunday.

Even worse, when prospective buyers become emotionally attached to a property, they often develop a “denial” frame of mind against future repairs and property maintenance issues. It’s truly amazing what imperfections can be overlooked while buyers focus on wall color and granite countertops. Of course many imperfections are not obvious unless they are looked for in the eaves, under floors and inside the walls.


Big Ticket Items Not to Be Overlooked

So while you’re drooling over the fabulous kitchen and oohing and ahhing over the incredible views, remember to also have a professional check out the three most important big-ticket components — the roof, the plumbing and the structure.

  • Roof: The roof is important because it is expensive to replace and there can be significant damage to personal property if a leak occurs.

  • Plumbing: Undetected plumbing leaks can cause extensive damage to floors and walls as well as subject the residents to potential mold hazards.

  • Structure: You want to make sure the home is free of dry rot, termites or settlement issues which are expensive to fix. Additionally, a home that is not structurally sound has safety issues.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, each item in a home has a life expectancy which depends on the quality of the materials and installation, the level of maintenance and the intensity of its use as well as the weather and climate conditions.

Taking a few minutes to ask about the age of the roof as well as having it inspected by a professional will give you an idea of the time remaining before you need to budget for a replacement and can prevent being surprised with maintenance projects while you’re still unpacking boxes.

For example, in Hawaii, roofs made with asphalt shingles can be expected to last anywhere from 15 to 20 years, while cement tile coverings can last for 50 years but cost two times the price of asphalt, or more.

Likewise, a sensible buyer will inquire about the age of the appliances, the kitchen cabinets and flooring. The longevity of a home’s components can vary according to the materials used — all natural hardwood floors have a life expectancy of 100 years or more and natural stone countertops will last you a lifetime as well. But most components inside a home have life spans much shorter.

Carpeting will last approximately eight to 10 years. A refrigerator typically lasts 13 to 15 years and a water heater will likely need replacing after 11 years.

Being aware of what exists behind the walls such as wiring can also save future maintenance headaches. In very old homes, the electrical wiring may need to be updated, and sometimes it’s tricky to tell when it’s necessary.

In some older homes, it’s not uncommon to see a two-pronged electrical receptacles that have been replaced with the three-pronged type of receptacle (to make it appear grounded even when it’s not) without replacing the wiring. This is a condition we refer to as ‘false grounded’ receptacles. If a new home buyer is unaware that a home has older wiring systems and has to upgrade, it could cost as much as $15,000 to 20,000 later.


Life Expectancy of Home Items

Deciding on the right home to buy requires knowing the true condition of the home’s structure and components. Before making a big commitment make sure she’s more than just a pretty face — it’s what’s on the inside that counts.


Component Life Expectancy
Refrigerator 13 years
Washer 10 years
Dryer 13 years
Water heater 11 years
Dishwasher 9 years
Microwave oven 9 years
Electric range 13 years
Gas range 15 years
Room air conditioner 10 years
Hardwood flooring Lifetime
Engineered wood floor 50 years
Laminate flooring 15 to25 years
Linoleum floor 25 years
Tile flooring 75 to 100 years
Carpeting 8 to 10 years
Terrazo 75 plus years
Copper/clay/concrete roof Lifetime
Asphalt roof shingles 15 to 20 years
Wood shake roof 30 years



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