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Spending your weekends at open house inspections, visualising how you'd set up each room and where your indoor plants will live is an exciting part of the home buying journey. While no house is perfect, it's important to use the inspection and time with the real estate agent to look out for any major issues to avoid additional costs on repairs and maintenance should you buy the house.

Start from the top

The first area to look out for at an open inspection is the roof. Depending on the type of roof, check for rust, cracks or broken tiles as these are all signs it may need replacing. While you’re outside, also take a peek at the gutters. Again, check for rust, sagging areas or any other signs of deterioration. While it might seem minor, damaged gutters make it hard for storm water to wash away from the house which means you’ll be left with ongoing puddles of water (which can ruin the foundations) or a hefty bill to fix the issue.

Check the ceilings

Inside the house, stained ceilings are a telltale sign of a leaking roof. In older style homes such as cottages, villas and bungalows, ceilings can also start to sag with age. As you can imagine, repairing or replacing a ceiling is an expensive exercise so take care in ensuring there are no obvious issues. Make sure to also check the walls and ceilings for potential mould or salt damp.

To the windows, to the walls

If you notice some cracks in the walls and ceilings, don’t be alarmed. It’s common, even in new homes, to have some minor cracks as a result of the house settling. These cracks can be repaired and are often relatively superficial.

If you notice much larger cracks on inspection, this may be more of a concern. Cracks larger than half a centimetre can indicate a potential structural issue with the house. If you’re serious about the home, seek advice from a professional building inspector.

It's getting hot in here

In Australia, our winters can be pretty mild in comparison to places such as Canada and the UK. On the other hand, we experience extremely hot summers, and without air conditioning or good insulation, it can get unbearable at times. When inspecting a house, ask if the house has air-conditioning. While this is an easy addition to any home, it could cost you up to $10,000 that you weren’t prepared to spend.

When combining your knowledge of what to look out for and the professional advice of a building inspector, you can have peace of mind moving into your new home.

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