CHUBB TIPS - Ten questions homebuyers should ask before buying a home
Are there stains on the ceiling, walls and floors? Water stainson ceilings, floors or walls are a clear sign of water problems.Look specifically in corners on the upper floors for signs ofroof leaks. Ceiling damage on the lower level is a sign ofplumbing or fixture leaks on upper levels. Water stains caneasily be covered with paint, so bring a bright flashlight withyou and shine it on walls, floors and ceilings to look for signsof imperfections and staining.
What is the condition of the plumbing fixtures? Are theresigns of deterioration in and around plumbing fixtures? Flushthe toilets to make sure water runs properly. Firmly grasp thetoilet bowl and try to rock it to ensure that is firmly sealed tothe floor. Look in sinks for stains and signs of leaky faucets.Check under and around sinks for leaks or previous waterdamage.
Are the "details" in the home well maintained? Sure, the floorsare clean and the walls are freshly painted, but what is thecondition of the caulk around the tub, shower stall and sink?Deteriorated or mildewed caulk can allow water to graduallywork its way behind plumbing fixtures and into the home'swalls. Check for fresh caulk where counters meet backsplashes or walls.
What is the condition of the water-bearing appliances andtheir connections? Dishwashers, washing machines, kitchendisposals and water connections for icemakers account forhundreds of millions of dollars in damages to homes in theUnited States and Canada. Look for watermarks aroundwater-bearing appliances. Check the condition of the hosesand connections on water-bearing devices. The washingmachine should be no closer than 4 inches from the wall toavoid kinks in the hoses.
What is the age of the hot water heater? It's important todetermine the age of the hot water heater since most havean average life of 10 to 13 years. There's usually a metal labelon the heater that is date stamped. If not, the first four digitsof the serial number represent the month and year it wasmanufactured.
Is there a potential for a pipe burst due to freezing? In colderclimates, water supply lines in unheated areas of the homemay freeze and rupture. Determine if there are any plumbinglines that run through crawl spaces, garages, attics and evenexterior walls exposed to wind. Although insulating these linesmay keep them from freezing, a more extensive solution maybe necessary.
Is the basement dry? Check the basement area for dryness.Stains on walls are one indicator, but the existence of asump pump is a sign that ground water is a possibility. Askif the pump is in working order or require a demonstrationby having water poured into the pit to ensure the pump isfunctional.
Are the gutters and downspouts clear of debris? If the homeis in a wooded area, gutters can become clogged with fallenleaves and debris. This may cause rainwater to spill over,which results in water entering the home either throughthe roof or basement. It may also damage exterior woodsiding. Check to see that gutters and downspouts are clear,especially in the fall.
Have you visually inspected the roof shingles, overhangs,wood siding and windowsills? Asphalt shingles or woodshakes on the roof that show signs of curling or cuppingmay be indicative of poor ventilation or improperly installedinsulation in the attic. Peeling paint or signs of rot on roofoverhangs, exterior trim boards, wood sidings or windowsillsmay indicate excess moisture in these areas. If theseproblems exist, a licensed professional contractor shouldinspect these areas and repair them as needed.
Is the property properly graded? Ground that does not allowwater to drain away from the foundation during a heavyrain storm or after a big snowstorm may result in the waterseeping down along the foundation and ultimately into thebasement. Also, if the property is lower than the neighbour's,be sure any water runoff from surrounding properties isdiverted away from the foundation. A properly workingexterior drain system is important for all properties where theground slopes toward the foundation.
Buying a home is often the purchase of a lifetime. To avoid unpleasant surprises, Chubb has put together a checklist to help you ask the right questions before starting a new life in a new home.
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