When buying a new home, many details about the property are vying for your attention. While of course you want a structurally sound house, you may be more focused initially on how big the yard is, if the kitchen is updated and how many bathrooms it has. While these are all important features that help make the house desirable, it is also important to protect yourself from costly basement repairs that may only become apparent to you after you’ve already purchased the home.
The most apparent and alarming things to look for in the basement itself are evidence of past moisture. These include drip lines around the windows or from the ceiling, water spots, stains and a musty odor. These are all signs that water is getting in to the home, and if the seller has not already addressed the problem properly, it is likely to persist.
Outside there are a few things to look for as well. Most noticeably, are any cracks in the foundation? Once water starts to collect on the outside of the house, it can make its way through these cracks and inside your walls. The other aspect of the outside that often goes overlooked is where the gutters are dispensing water. If the gutters are designed to drain water down to a spot close to the foundation, it could mean that for years, water has been piling near seams and cracks, just waiting to make its way into the basement.
Some repairs in a basement can be put off, such as converting it to a living space. But some red flags should be addressed immediately. The first of these is potentially dangerous mold growth. This will need to be cleaned and removed by a specialist as soon as possible and may involve removing the existing walls and replacing them with mold-resistant ones instead. Mold that has grown under carpeting will also have to be removed. And depending on how far the mold has spread, you may need the entire area disinfected and for new carpet to be installed.
It is also important to block any further water from coming in to the area. Even though you may not intend to renovate or transform your basement, the problem will need to be tended to eventually. The earlier the damage is caught and corrected, the better condition your foundation will be in.
Many companies offer Basement Waterproofing, but that alone is not enough, it has to be done right. Depending on the issues it can be expected, but, it can be fixed. So just because you spot some of these signs does not mean you should run from a house that you may potentially love. It is best to talk it over with the seller beforehand to see what measures, if any, have already been taken to waterproof the basement and where the responsibility of the cost should lie.
And if you suspect that there is water damage or a leak, don’t depend solely on the home inspector to point it out. It is the inspector’s job to evaluate a number of things about the home and he may miss the importance of getting a crack repaired. Definitely take it upon yourself to call a waterproofing specialist and have him evaluate the basement. He’ll be able to spot warning signs that may otherwise go overlooked.