When inspecting a property to ascertain it’s potential for renovation and/or resale you should start from the ground and work your way up to the roof. As you inspect each prospective property its a good idea to take photos as it’s easy to get confused between properties when your looking at more than 1 or 2 at a time. This is also good for a diary of the places you have looked at. Also a property you have made an offer on, and been rejected, or have rejected yourself for some reason may look better after a month or 2 of searching, and the seller’s attitude to offers may have altered in the time since your offer was rejected.
Under Flooring – If the floor is raised, on stumps or piers, an under floor inspection is necessary. The ground under the building should be dry and clear of rubbish or stored goods. The under floor should be well ventilated. Here you should look for evidence of water that has been sitting under the house in the past, if low areas look like water has been lying, or are more cracked than surrounding ground their could be a problem, broken pipes, ground water, or incorrect storm water discharge, can be the source.
Check if there has been movement of stumps and piers, rotting wooden stumps, damage to bearers and joists, any previous renovation work, insect infestation, and in termite areas, any sign of termite activity or damage. Check that there are enough under floor vents and they are not blocked or covered. Look for any electrical or communication wiring and check its condition and installation is adequate.
Walls – The general condition of exterior walls will give an idea of the maintenance and repair work carried out over the years prior to sale. If the paint is shiny and new, you may suspect that the house has been dressed up for sale, often without the due diligence, that would be taken if the owner were keeping the house. So beware a pretty face. Check for bubbles or loose paint under the new coat.
Check walls for any cracks or holes that would allow vermin (bees, wasps, rats or mice, etc) to enter and nest.
Brick walls should be checked for cracks (at the corners of window and door openings are a common place), damage to mortar, and signs of moisture, either rising from the ground or from the ceiling line.
Timber weather board cladding should be checked for rot in the lower boards, a key or small screwdriver pressed against the bottom boards at regular intervals will alert you to soft rotted areas under the paintwork. While checking walls make sure any sub floor or wall vents are clear and not covered up.
Asbestos sheet clad walls will have to be removed and disposed of by licensed contractors, this is expensive. So get a trade’s person to quote.
New paintwork or rendering can hide potential problems. The only safe guard against being fooled is to thoroughly inspect and ask questions. If in doubt get an appropriately trained trade’s person’s opinion.
After a few inspections these checks become second nature and take little time. It will be an advantage to do a dry run or two to hone your skills. If you can do these inspections with a partner you can have a lot of fun, asking the sellers agent tricky questions and seeing how much you can save on the buying price. Remember you can make more money when you buy, than when you sell.