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RISMEDIA, March 30, 2009-HouseMaster, a North American inspection franchisor, reminds buyers and sellers that a professional home inspection is critical when buying or selling a home. As April marks National Home Inspection Month and the start of the peak home buying season, HouseMaster is providing consumers with a simple list of “red flags” to watch out for during the home buying process. Each of these red flags could be a sign of significant issues and defects and each should be thoroughly evaluated by a professional home inspector before potential buyers make an offer on the home.

These are the red flags that home buyers should look out for:

Numerous extension cords: This could be a sign of an outdated electrical system. Today’s electrical needs have grown significantly and as a result the home could require an entire electrical upgrade to meet these new demands. A professional home inspector will be able to assess whether a new panel and wiring is needed or additional receptacles will need to be installed.

Low water pressure or gurgling: If you turn on the faucet and the pressure is low, it could be evidence of a problem with older galvanized piping or inadequate piping. A professional home inspector will indicate the type of piping and estimated age and determine whether or not an entire new plumbing system is required. In many instances, sections of piping can be replaced on an as needed basis to correct the problem.

Horizontal foundation cracking: Vertical cracks are, for the most part, within normal settlement tolerances. Horizontal cracks are not. A horizontal crack generally results from hydrostatic pressure against the home’s foundation. Correction will often involve excavation, drainage provisions as well as repairs to the wall itself. If horizontal cracking is evident, several structural engineers should be consulted to ascertain the extent of movement as well as corrective measures. Opinions do vary and with a structural element issue, it is best to get several opinions.

Musty smell in basement: Storage in the basement that is raised off the floor (such as books and boxes), stains, or efflorescence on walls are conditions that can indicate water in the basement. A professional home inspector can assess potential causes. Simply improving the property grading or draining downspouts further away from the foundation could be a solution.

Wall or ceiling stains: Any stain should be further evaluated to determine the cause and extent of any possible hidden damage. A professional home inspector will look for causes of the stain as well as test the stain using a moisture meter to determine whether or not the stain is active.

Vacancy: Often a home that is in foreclosure is vacant which increases the potential for the home to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance, and ventilation. Mold and other moisture problems are very common in vacant foreclosed homes as are plumbing problems due to drying gaskets and valves or freezing pipes.

When purchasing a home, a buyer should never forego a professional home inspection. The tips above are provided as guidelines so that potential buyers can effectively and efficiently narrow down their options. Once a choice has been made, a professional home inspection by a qualified inspector will provide the potential buyer with an education on the home enabling them to make an educated real estate decision.

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