• Bill Daniel

How To Avoid a Money Pit When Buying a Home

Buying a home is scary and the purchase of a home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Here at Hound Dog home inspections, we care about keeping you from buying a home that is going to be a money pit, so we put together a list for things to look for when checking out a home to keep you from making a mistake.

General Structure

Most importantly, the house should stand on a sturdy foundation: a concrete perimeter foundation wall and footing.

The house's structure needs to be straight, solid and square. When you view the house it must stand not lean or bulge in places. Exterior walls should appear plumb and straight from top to bottom.

Floors should be flat, level and powerful. Non-level or uneven floors -- and doors that fit in jambs or don't swing right -- often indicate other problems or settling. When you jump up and down in the middle of a large room, the floor shouldn't feel. The floor joists may require additional support if it does.


Big cracks are red flags. V-shaped cracks in the foundation are often signs of structural issues that may require expensive foundation work.

Don't worry at the corners above doors and windows and cracks consistent with wall studs -- them paint and can just fill.


Downspouts and gutters should carry away water from the home, and the lot should be graded to direct runoff. The house could have damage from poor drainage.

Unless the underlying causes have been handled if the home has had issues in the past, it will probably have them in the future. If it has a crawlspace, start looking for signs of flooding.

Where signs of moisture exist, mold can grow. Some kinds of mold are easily removed and benign, while others may require abatement. Professional inspection is needed for mold.


Research whether the house is plumbed completely with aluminum water supply pipes. Old steel pipes become constricted with flow water pressure and residue.

If you can not see new copper pipes beneath the floors or in the loft, you can run a test in the toilet furthest from the water heater. Turn on the bathtub turn on the bathroom sink faucets and flush the toilet, spout full-force. If the flow of the bathtub spout slows the home might need to be re-piped.

Electrical System

Ascertain whether the home has an old, undersized main electrical service panel. Updating to a new service panel which can handle electrical demands costs $3,000 or more.

It's undersized for a typical family, if the electric circuit breaker or fuse box panel has a capacity of less than 100 amps. The home should have support.

If there are three chief wires going from the utility company's pole to the electrical"mast" on the house which serves the electrical panel, the home probably has 220-volt service. Two wires going into the mast indicate a 110-volt support. You can look for 220-volt outlets intended for appliances such as an electric oven or clothes dryer.

Heating & Cooling

Check variety and the age of the heating system and if each of the rooms are heated out. Replacing it will cost a few thousand dollars if the heating system is out of date. It would be best to do this once you replace the furnace, if you intend to install air conditioning.

Check the attic and walls for insulation. Installing more insulation in an attic is not normally a huge undertaking, but insulation present walls can be pricey. To see whether exterior walls are insulated, you can get rid of an electric outlet cover and look near the electrical box -- be careful not to touch any wires or the outlet's electrical terminals.


You can often tell if a roof leaks by checking the ceiling and the attic for water stains. Replacing a roof could be expensive, although roof repairs are cheap. So try to discern if the roof will last for years. You can use a pair of binoculars to inspect the roof, if needed.

Asphalt fiberglass (composition) roof is by far the most frequent type. If it becomes fragile and the shingles lose their mineral crystals in the surface, the roof needs to be replaced.

Wood shingles and shakes are over-the-hill when they're badly cupped or missing altogether. In locations wood roofing isn't fire-safe.

Other substances, such as tile, concrete slate, tile and fiber cement persist for quite a long time. It is probably okay if the roof is covered with one of these.

We hope this article helps you in your home-buying journey and when it comes time to have your home inspected, we hope you trust Hound Dog Home Inspections to handle all your home inspection needs.

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