Buying a home is, without doubt, one of the most significant and scariest investments most people will make in their lives, yet research suggests that the average amount of time taken to decide on a house, is just thirty-three minutes. Personally, I sometimes take that long trying to decide what to order when I’m eating out. I know from experience that your choice of whether or not you want to live somewhere can be made with a few moments of stepping over the threshold but instant love can be short lived when you discover it’s underlying faults.

That said, it’s not like people are rushing into making decisions without thoroughly checking out the property, it’s just as much of the focus is on administration and structural stability some of the finer points you should be looking at can get overlooked. Read on to discover a few areas you should strongly consider checking before purchasing a home. These points are not always included in home inspections.  

Is Your New House A Big Bug Buffet?

If you have reason to believe termites pose a problem to the type of home you’re buying or the area in which you are looking to buy, a pre-purchase termite inspection can be a wise investment. You may not want to make the initial outlay when you are already paying out a lot of money during your move, but you could be avoiding a gigantic bill if you buy the house only to discover it is partially eaten.  

See What’s Lurking In The Sewer

You might want to invest in a sewer inspection where a  specialist plumber will come out with a sewer camera to inspect the main sewer line.  You probably won’t be able to tell, just by turning on the taps or flushing the toilet, if the line is partially blocked unless there is a monumental blockage, If there is a blockage or some damage done to the line by roots or age, remedial action will be required and if the line were to collapse due to deterioration this would require a significant repair or replacement at a large cost.

Wayward Water Heaters

The heater that will serve your home and provide hot water should last the average family approximately ten years. Consider the location of the tank. If the heater ruptures will it ruin your carpet or wooden floor?  Could it cause drywall damage?  If it is in a place where damage is likely to occur if there is a leak you’ll need to consider what preventative measures can be taken.

The majority of water heaters are placed in areas that are out of sight which makes it easy to give less thought to what damage they could cause if they were to leak.  Leaks are often only noticed because of visual evidence of water damage, such as water coming through the ceiling, so look out for signs of previous leaks and ask plenty of questions.

A professional plumber should be able to determine the age of your water heater and whether it in safe working order. You also need to consider the size of the water heater and ensure it’s suitable for your needs.  The investment required to obtain an efficient water heater is significant, so if the boiler does need to be replaced you may want to work this into your negotiations.

Check Out That Toilet

You will want to check around the base of each toilet, as while a leak often appears insignificant, over time, water will start to damage the floor around it.  The seller might have used sealant, being unaware of the gravity of this problem and making matters worse, so you’ll want to check for additional sealant and water around the base of the toilet.  Check to see if the floor feels squidgy or soft around the base.  If movement is apparent (i.e., if it rocks from side to side), then there’s a strong chance water damage has occurred. 

It Can Be Draining

Clogged drains are one of the most common issues plumbers are called on to resolve, as they are merely caused by built-up oils, material like toilet paper, loose hair and so on.  While common, and seemingly simple, clogged drains can lead to serious leaks.  To test a drain, turn on the water and let it flow for a few minutes.  It should drain instantly and consistently.  You should then look under the sink for signs of water damage, mould, and visible leaks.

Is It Moist?

You can generally smell damp as soon as you enter a property, but this tends to be when things have advanced significantly – meaning just because the property doesn’t smell damp or musty, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t suffering from damp.  

You’ll want to scrutinize the ceilings, windows and walls – looking for any damp staining or discolouration, particularly on the ceiling, which could indicate previous leaks.  Are there any signs of damp or mould on the walls (including inside covered areas such as walk-in wardrobes).  Are the timber frames showing any signs of rot? Is there any discolouration where mould has been washed away.

Electronic Underload

Would you think to check and see if your phone works on a potential new property?  This one is often overlooked to the lament of new homeowners everywhere.  Do you have full reception or do you need to go in the garden and stand on one leg to be able to make a phone call?  How about the speed of the internet? Are the services you are used to available at the new home and if not can you live without them? These little life essentials are becoming increasingly important in today’s world – and shouldn’t be overlooked.  

Outside Spaces

How is the garden?  Is it suitable for hosting outdoor parties and having friends over, or is it small and unsightly is there plenty of foliage that will shield you from the neighbors and will it all disappear in the fall? Will you be able to put in a veggie plot and a chicken run if that is your thing? Again, these little things might not crop up when you are at a viewing, but they are important particularly when you think about the fact you’re  purchasing a home rather than just a house.

The View From Here

A beautiful view is a nice to have, but more essentially, you want to be checking for strange structures or signs of heavy construction within the area. If you drive around the neighborhood and see lots of older homes being rebuilt into large modern houses you should be aware that this could be happening next to or opposite your new home soon. You should also look into any community plans that may outline major projects. These can turn your quiet, small-town feel into a bustling metropolis in the next decade. What could be a beautiful view today, could in a few years, end up very different.  

Do You Hear That?

How does the property sound?  Can you hear the neighbours arguing?  Is there a busy road that will keep you awake at night? Or maybe a cockerel that’s sure to wake you up at the crack of dawn each morning? Listen out for things like schoolyards that may be noisy at specific times and be sure to return to the house and sit outside in your vehicle at different times of day and on weekends. 

A peaceful oasis on a Wednesday lunchtime could be party central on a Friday night.

Sleep On It

Spend a night or two at a nearby hotel or an AirBnB in order to get a feel for the area; go to the local gym, peruse the shops, eat at the local takeaway – what’s the attitude and atmosphere of the location.  How does it get after dark?  How busy and congested are the roads in rush hour?

Now that we’ve covered some of the less obvious things to consider when doing the property inspection let’s finish off by looking at three routes to finding your property in the first place.


The most conventional way to find a property is to use a realtor. A professional can provide incredible value in both terms of the convenience and have an invested, yet somewhat neutral, the third party to mediate between the buyer and seller. 

A dependable realtor is well worth the commission, however, more and more people are starting to buy and sell their homes without using a realtor; using property websites that connect private sellers with private buyers.


There are some great deals to be found at property auctions, however it’s important to do plenty of research into understanding why the house is being sold at auction.  It could be as simple as a financial issue where the bank has foreclosed on the house and their corporate policy is to sell at auction, or perhaps a relative has inherited the property and wishes to sell it from a distance.  These motivations are standard, and most sales have an innocent motivation but sometimes sellers are choosing an auction for more dubious reasons; it’s just something of which to be mindful.

Auctions also often have a “buy as is” policy which doesn’t give you an opportunity to complete a home inspection before making a commitment.

One To One Purchase

An interesting albeit more time-consuming option is to find sellers directly and negotiate with them one-to-one without any middleman taking a cut; be this an auction house or a realtor.  This level of negotiation can often be trickier than outsourcing the task to a realtor, but today due to the internet, finding homeowners wishing to sell their property is made particularly easy.

In summary, consider the fact you are buying a home rather than just a house. Be sure to check it out from a lifestyle perspective (e.g., does your mobile phone have signal) in addition to looking at the often overlooked areas of property inspection, most notably, the plumbing and whether the property is hiding damp.  Then, when it comes to finding a property consider all the options available to you and be sure to do your homework before signing on the dotted line.