by | Mar 21, 2018

Red Flags For Home Buyers

When buying a home in the Portland and Vancouver area there’s a lot to think about. You need to make sure you’re moving into the right neighborhood, figure out the amount of space you need, and ensure you’re paying the right price. But do you know how to make sure the house has been taken care of and is structurally sound?

In this month’s post we’ll go over red flags to look for when buying a home in the Portland and Vancouver area. We’ll review some warning signs of a house that has not been taken care of properly, followed by a list of hot spots that are commonly under-maintained over the course of a home’s life.

Signs a house has not been maintained

Homes need care and maintenance to stay in good shape. A lack of maintenance has an effect beyond just the appearance of the home. A home that has not been maintained over long periods of time will start to deteriorate to the point that no amount of repair will bring it fully back to life.

Ask owners and realtors of any homes you are looking at about the major repairs the home has had. Try to get a sense of how often (and how well) the home was maintained.

Remember, make sure to always hire a reputable home inspector when buying a home.

What to look for

Even if homeowners say they’ve stayed on top of repairs and maintenance, it’s hard to know for sure how much work they’ve actually done. Fortunately, there are a number of signs you can look out for that generally indicate a lack of maintenance.

Rotting wood

Rotten wood is generally a sign of water damage. This could be the result of a leaky roof, old or poorly installed siding, burst pipes, or poor day-to-day maintenance by a previous owner.

This is particularly common in kitchens and bathrooms, but also in other areas of a home. Pay special attention in the following areas for signs of rotten wood:

  • Areas surrounding a shower or bathtub
  • Bathroom floor around the toilet
  • Kitchen flooring
  • Areas surrounding exterior doorways
  • Windows

Bad smell

While you may feel you can hide a bad smell in an otherwise perfect house, even a mild smell could be a sign of a dire issue with a home. Bad smells could indicate:

  • Plumbing issues
  • Past spills
  • Water damage
  • Mold or mildew
  • Poor maintenance
  • History of pet damage

Keep an eye out for an overly-aggressive use of candles, air fresheners, or other odor-masking agents, which are potentially being used as a way to mask a foul odor.


Not only does mold weaken the structural integrity of your home, but it can lead to major health problems for you and your family.

Pay close attention to basements and attics when evaluating a potential home for mold. Water tends to leak into these areas due to problems with roofs and gutters.

Signs of water damage or drainage issues

Water can wreak havoc on any home. Water damage is often caused by poor drainage, plumbing problems or issues with the roofing or gutter system.

When inspecting a home’s exterior, be on the lookout for any free standing pools of water surrounding the house. Mini lakes suggest poor drainage and possible water issues in the future (or in the past). Other signs include:

  • Overflowing gutters
  • Missing mulch in garden beds under roof
  • Water stains in basement
  • Cracks in the foundation

Bad electrical work

While most homebuyers are not professional electricians, it’s still important to keep in mind electrical issues when taking a look at any home you’re interested in. Many old homes still use knob and tube wiring or aluminum wiring, which will need to be replaced and will be an expensive fix.

While your home will be looked over for safety issues during your inspection, make sure to check outlets and light switches for any issues, as well as searching for any flickering lights. These could be precursors to bigger issues down the road.

DIY repairs

Most of all, a home that looks like it’s been taken care of by the homeowners themselves is generally a bad sign. Unless certified and trained professionals themselves, homeowners will never do as good of a job as a professional contractor.

In addition to looking sloppy and not as cohesive, a DIY home improvement project is not held to the same standard and may not even pass code. It also shows an unwillingness by the homeowner to invest in their home.

Always buy a home from someone who has worked with a professional contractor on all of their major home improvement projects.

Are you a homeowner and want your home to become more valuable after your home improvement project?

Call Cutting Edge Contracting at (360) 433-2803 or contact us online to see what we can do for you.

Important areas to inspect when buying a home

While it’s important to take a look at an entire home before moving forward with a purchase, there are a couple spots that should be given particular attention.


Roofs act as a shield against weather to keep your home protected and safe. If it’s not in good condition, or hasn’t been in the past, than your home could be in danger.

Ask the current owner for a history of roof repairs and construction. Inspect the roof and make sure it is in good condition. Keep an eye out for:

  • Broken or missing shingles or tiles
  • Warping or sagging
  • Impact damage, such as that from a fallen branch or stormy weather

Siding and exterior paint

While many people consider the paint of a home only an aesthetic concern, the reality is that exterior painting helps protect your siding, and in effect your home. Homes that go a long time without an exterior paint job could have their siding fail significantly earlier than homes with regularly replaced siding.

Make sure to look closely at the siding to see if there is any chipping or signs of damage underneath the paint. Some homeowners will attempt to cover up bad siding by painting over damaged siding.

Bad siding can lead to…

  • An increase in energy costs
  • Water to leak into your home
  • Damage to the integrity of your home’s construction

Interior paint

Homeowners may attempt to mask damage to their home’s interior by painting over an area. Make sure to take a look at all walls and take note if it seems as if one wall has a newer coat of paint than other walls in a room (or even if one room has been painted more recently than another).

There is often a good explanation for this, but it is a good idea to get that explanation rather than assuming it’s no big deal and being wrong.

Old windows

Many older homes have not yet switched to modern, double or triple-pane windows. Older windows don’t insulate as well as new ones, can make it easier for bugs to get in, and can warp and cause further damage. They’re also liable to let in moisture through leaks or condensation.

When looking at a home, check windows to see if they are foggy or have water condensation around their edges. Also make sure the windows will open and are functional.

Make sure your home is taken care of

Call Cutting Edge Contracting to have you home worked on by professionals who can get the job done. Don’t let your home lose value by working on projects yourself. We can help keep your home in top shape as issues come up.

Our contractors work on:

Call Cutting Edge Contracting at (360) 433-2803 or contact us online to see what we can do for you.

Sean Kelly

About the author: Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is the COO & President of Cutting Edge Contracting. His background in business, accounting, and the construction industry helped him become the award-winning manager of a nationally-known paint company before joining Cutting Edge.

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