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Published: Thursday, 12/29/2005

Seven Warning Signs When Buying A Home

Most home buyers pride themselves on knowing how to spot a solid home or one that needs serious work.

Aside from the obvious warning signs, such as damp spots on walls or missing roof shingles, many homebuyers may remain unaware of serious yet hard-to-spot problems such as foundation damage.

What should you look for? Dan Steward, president of national home inspection service provider, Pillar to Post, offers seven warning signs to heed when buying a home:

1. Water damage. Porous grout and cracks less than one sixteenth of an inch in a ceramic tiled shower can allow enough water through to do thousands of dollars of damage over time.

2. Improper wiring. This includes such situations as amateur -- often dangerous -- wiring, ungrounded receptacles, lack of ground fault circuit interruptors in wet locations, overloaded breakers, etc. The homebuyer should be informed of the presence of aluminum wiring which was common in houses built in the 1960s and 1970s. These installations could be problematic and should be fully evaluated before closing the sale.

3. Attic issues. Home buyers almost never look in attics but inspectors always do, paying special attention to signs of roof leaks, missing support trusses, pest infestation, illegal venting, illegal electrical wiring, inadequate insulation, etc.

4. Chugging drains. Drains that "chug" like an upturned soda bottle or toilets that don't flush correctly could be signs that the plumbing system isn't adequately vented.

5. Roof damage. Eighty percent of new construction litigation is said to involve the roof. If the roof is bad, the rest of the house is in danger of damage too.

6. Heating and cooling systems danger. Gas-fired furnaces have the potential to introduce deadly carbon monoxide gas into the living area. If the gas company decides your furnace is unsafe prior to your move-in, they may lock it out and require replacement before turning on the gas to your new home.

7. Foundation problems. Flower beds planted too close to exterior walls could draw too much water to the home's foundation, causing damage. A damp basement might also be an indication that the foundation needs work -- it's one of the most expensive home repairs around.

Before you buy, be sure that you are not going to be in the market for expensive home repairs down the road. The best way to be safe is to get a complete home inspection from a reputable and established company. (NAPSI)

Make sure your dream home is free of costly repair problems before signing a contract.

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