Home Inspection - What to look for when buying a new house.

A home is one of the most important purchases you can make, so don't be sucked in by a fresh coat of paint and nice carpeting! Keep a sharp eye and consider the details.

1. Consider the house's general layout.

a. Is it big enough for your family and belongings?
b. Look at the number, condition and size of closets.
c. Does it have enough storage space?
d. Is there adequate parking/garage space?
e. Is there room for expansion - and how much would adding on cost?

2. Look for amenities such as built-in dishwasher and washer/dryer hook-ups. Will these be easy to add?

3. Consider the yard. Is the lot big enough for your outdoor activities? How difficult will it be to maintain?

4. Look for cracks in the driveway. Wide or extensive cracks could indicate a drainage problem in the yard.

5. Look for cracks in the foundation, ceilings and walls, which indicate movement of the structure caused by settling, soil expansion or earthquakes.

6. Check walls and ceilings for signs of water damage. Start in the basement, where defects are most obvious. Check walls for inward bulge, cracks, or crumbling mortar, fresh patches, and high-water marks.

7. Inspect windows by opening them, both to check condition of their hardware and to make sure they aren't painted shut. Bedroom windows should be large enough to escape through in case of a fire.

8. Examine both interior and exterior doors: open and shut them to see whether they are level and in working condition. Inspect sliding doors for energy-efficient insulated glass. Check for weather stripping and thresholds.

9. Check siding. Aluminum is a plus. If it is wooden, look for peeling which normally indicates that the walls are holding to much moisture. If windowsills are freshly painted and the rest of the house is not, paint may be covering rot.

10. Be sure that the fireplace has a working damper and is lined with terra cotta or firebrick (as opposed to common brick, which eventually deteriorates from intense heat).

11. Inspect floors and carpet for wear and tear as well as for moisture damage.

12. Determine if the walls, ceilings and floors contain asbestos, which is a health hazard.

It's always best to hire a professional housing inspector to thoroughly check out the home before you buy. An offer to buy a home can be contingent upon a favorable inspection report.

If any of the above issues are unsatisfactory, ask the seller to repair the problem before you move in, or use it as a point in negotiating price.