1. Buying a new house? 3 things to keep an eye out for on the first look!

Spartan Speculations

We are all about business.. but, sometimes we just like to discuss things that are general points of interest!

Buying a new house? 3 things to keep an eye out for on the first look!

Whether you’re looking for a house, have one you’ve fallen in love with, or just browsing Zillow in your free time, I STRONGLY recommend watching diligently for these red flags 🚩

While some people have a pretty good idea of what to look for, there’s still a vast number of us going blind into what is possibly the largest purchase of your life.

Most of the time, it’s a miscommunication, or the seller isn’t even aware of pre-existing issues, even though they LIVE there. More notably, not everyone likes disclosing certain “issues” that they sweep under the rug, despite having the potential to cost you GREATLY in years to come.

Ive seen far too many situations like this, and I feel so bad having to tell a customer that their whole front stoop needs replaced because the previous owners glued carpet to it in order to hide the network of cracks caused by years of salt exposure.

Foundation/brick mortar rot

Chimney in DESPERATE need of attention

A foundation is used metaphorically in speech for a reason – if your foundation is failing, the whole house is at risk.

This doesn’t just apply to foundations, the photo above is just an example of deteriorating mortar. This can happen with brick as well as concrete block, and its a real buzzkill. If it’s addressed up front and dealt with accordingly, its usually not the end of the world. BUT if you move in, 4 years fly by, and then realize the walls are cracking, and floors are settling, its a MUCH larger fiasco that will deflate your wallet.

How do I know the brick/block needs attention?

  • Chalky, disintegrating, or wavy mortar joints
  • Hairline cracks in drywall
  • Moisture on the inside of basement walls
  • Moisture on the inside of basement walls
  • Settling stoops/steps
  • If the brick/block is painted, (especially if it’s fresh) check to make sure that it’s not flaking or feels loose around the mortar joints.


From the driveway to the patio, there are plenty of signs to see if they’re in stable condition, but you HAVE to be looking for them. sometimes they’re plenty obvious, like the photo above.

If the concrete joints are wider than 1/4 inch or larger, there has definitely been some level of drifting or settling. To a degree, this is normal, especially on an old house. The change in elevation, however, is not! The moisture that runs underneath the concrete becomes trapped, and as winter rolls around, it freezes, pushing the concrete up, and it often does not go back down in the summer. The more it moves, the more water is allowed under the slab, causing an exponentially worsening problem.

Massive gap on a 3 year old driveway

This photo shows an INCREDIBLY drastic example of this, but you might not look twice at an open house, am I right?

This particular driveway was only 3 years old, and in a very high end housing development. When I shined a light down the gap, it was like a bottomless cavern. The sand had all been washed away, and the driveway had settled over 1.5 inches.. At best, they will end up paying $1500 to mud-jack it back into place, or $4500+ for a new driveway, and that’s a conservative number. They had NO idea.

If it’s caught early, easy fix! Have joint sealer applied to all of the joints, and you’re good for another 10-15 years with minimal cost. Knowledge is Money! If you’re looking at a house, and see any potential issues, discuss it with your agent, or the seller. Chances are, they may be willing to work with you on it.

Negative grade

A properly sloped grade is imperative for water management.

I’m not always the best about taking before pictures, but this little sidewalk job that we did had a BIG pay-off for the customer.

Before we replaced this, the dirt on the edge of the house was 2” lower than the dirt 4 feet away, the amount of damage this could have caused if left untouched, would be very costly. The amount of moisture in the ground usually decreases the further down you go, but when it has nowhere to escape, it will slowly saturate the foundation area causing excessive pressure, and could even lead to the foundation bowing, leading to EXTREMELY expensive repairs within 5-10 years costing anywhere from 5 – 30 thousand dollars.

In conclusion

There are so many things to think about when buying a new home, but If you can take your time and assess these few items, it will be more than beneficial. If your uncertain or weary of the home’s well being, consider having a home inspection done prior to making an offer, they will do an in depth search for thousands of potential problems, and may be one of the best ways to protect your investment.

We offer free, no obligation consultations, and this would be a perfect time to take advantage of that. BUT whether you go through us, or not, please keep these things in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Happy home buying!