Sam's Home Buying Tips

How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Mistakes Buying a New Home

Mistake No. 5 – Not Fully Checking the Interior:

Taking a Closer Look

It is easy to get excited about a prospective new home as you walk through it. That’s great; the home buying process should be enjoyable. However, it’s a common mistake to not scrutinize the quality and condition of interior materials and finishes for each home under serious consideration. The ‘Interior Checklist’ included in this section is designed for just this purpose. It will guide you through a systematic audit of the home’s interior including a close look at primary finishes, overall layout, structural problems, evidence of water damage.

Completing the checklist will require you to use best judgment about interior construction details. What is the quality of the door, window and baseboard wood trim (e.g., minimum standard 2 ¼” vs. thicker and wider custom trim)? What is the quality of the doors (e.g., cheap hollow core doors vs. real wood paneled doors)? What is the quality of the cabinet construction (e.g., minimum grade particle board construction with stapled corners vs. higher grade real wood construction and corners connected with mortise and tendon joints)? What is the quality of the cabinet hardware (e.g., light grade surface mounted hinges vs. heavier gauge recessed hinges)? What is the quality of the door hardware (e.g., flimsy minimum grade knobs vs. heavier gauge designer knobs)? What is the quality of the electric wall plates, switches and outlets (e.g., cheap plates, toggle switches and outlets vs. designer plates, switches and outlets)? What is the quality of the kitchen and bathroom counters (e.g., cheap laminate or higher grade monolithic stone and man-made materials)? If you feel that you are not prepared to make these judgments, it would only take a short time walking the aisles of the nearest ‘large box’ hardware store (e.g., Home Depot, Home Expo, or Lowes) to get a quick education. Questions about layout, structural condition and water damage can easily be assessed by simply looking closely for the items listed on the checklist.

Note that items are listed once assuming consistent construction throughout the home, but can vary from room to room or across sections of a home that has been remodeled. If variations are observed, you should provide separate notes on the checklist. If a number of concerns or questions remain after completing the checklist, an experienced home inspector can provide additional input (see Mistake No. 9).

So, if you fall in love with a home, make sure to take a deep breath, relax, and use the checklist in this section to check the interior.