Prevent the nightmarish scenario of endless home repairs: before closing the deal on purchasing a property, conduct a thorough home inspection. A round of quality home inspection could identify a property’s imperfections at the time of acquisition, so the buyer and seller can agree on the party responsible for restoration. You may take it for granted that first-hand properties are flawless—but this isn’t necessarily the case. Buyers should make good use of the three to six-month (sometimes even year-long) maintenance period offered by property developers to uncover defects and potential issues that might arise. Second-hand properties, however, do not come with such protections. Scrutinising the conditions of the property before signing off on the offer may save you thousands from fixing defects. Read on for more tips on conducting home inspections on first-hand and second-hand properties, and fixing common property defects.
First-hand property inspection
1. Water leakage
As one of the most common defects found in new flats, water leakage could cause a real headache during heavy rain and typhoons. Carefully examine window openings, window hoods, and the edges of window frames for water stains or water marks. Look closely at windowpanes to see if there are any cracks or bubbles: impurities in the glass can indicate vulnerability to strong winds after years of exposure.
Pay extra attention to water pipes both in and outside the home. Use a mirror to check whether the plumbing fittings outside the window are installed and merged properly. If the apartment comes with a balcony, try splashing water from the outside to ensure that water does not seep into the unit.
2. Flooring, walls and doors
Check if the floor is perfectly flat and smooth. Walk around the entire unit, or tap to listen for hollowness. Floor covering can crack under the weight of furniture if there are gaps between the finish floor and subfloor. Likewise, tap the walls to identify debonding surfaces. Scratches and peeling are also signs of a substandard paint job. Open and close the doors multiple times to test for squeaking or loose hinges.
3. Home appliances
First-hand properties frequently come with home appliances. Run the appliances a few times to check for proper function. Every light switch, button, and faucet should be tested to ensure that they are operating at full capacity.
Second-hand property inspection
Prospective buyers of second-hand properties should be aware of any unauthorised interior alterations in or outside the premises made by previous owners. Typical unapproved building works include metal cages, balcony enclosures, canopies, supporting frames for split-type air conditioners and drying racks. Impermissible alterations are also commonly seen in doors, windows and walls. Identify possible illegal structures or installations by referring to the sales brochure or building plan, which can be obtained from the Buildings Department.
2. Home structure, fittings and fixtures
Second-hand residential flats require meticulous inspection since they are typically older, and therefore more prone to defects. You should conduct a detailed survey of the structures, walls, doors, windows, flooring, home appliances, and all other items mentioned above to ensure that the property is in good condition for occupancy.
3. Photograph defects
Since prospective second-hand home buyers are not entitled to a maintenance period after the handover, you should identify as many potential risks as quickly as possible to make an informed decision. Photographing the problems captures the evidence required to negotiate responsibilities for the existing deficiencies.