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17 Warning Signs a House Could Be a Money Pit

That house with "character" could turn out to be a house of repair horrors. Here are the subtle signs the house you love is going to cost you more than just the purchase price.

Pipes of a heating systemPeter Gudella/Shutterstock


Sometimes hazardous elements aren't so easy to spot. "An old furnace covered in asbestos that wasn't properly removed, old asbestos siding that needs replacing, or asbestos tile in a finished basement can be a potential money pit with future renovations," McLennan warns. If you're considering a home built before 1978, the presence of lead paint is an important health issue to consider. These are 15 other hidden home dangers you need to keep an eye out for.

Detail of a metallic knob on white door , tainless steel round ball door knobapiguide/Shutterstock

Sticky door and loose nails

Cracks are one sign of foundation problems, but Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do-Done Renovations and Handyman Services says there are also some less common ones, including: if the crown molding has gaps from the roof, nails are coming loose or falling out, and doors are sticking and hard to open. "These issues could be caused by other things as well, such as simply a bad contractor, but it's a good indicator that you should schedule a foundation inspection before buying," suggests Bruin.

Close up macro black ant carrying a wounded friendEzume Images/Shutterstock

Carpenters that aren't human

"Carpenter ants can cause damage to wood structures, such as wall studs, as well as the unseen structural timbers, the more aesthetic areas such as window sills, or in areas that could cause safety hazards, such as wooden steps," says Bruin. Carpenter ants and dampwood termites both like moist and decaying wood, which could lead to costly structural issues. Here are 7 ways to get rid of ants without calling an exterminator

Inside wall heat isolation with mineral wool in wooden house, building under construction photopixel/Shutterstock

Lumpy insulation

Grab a flashlight and check out the insulation in the attic. John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada says lumpy, uneven, and saggy insulation could indicate a leaky roof and an environment for mold to thrive. Damaged insulation also means losing warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer. Another sign that could point to water in the attic: "If you walk inside a house and see paint discoloration or stains in the ceilings, it's a good indication that water got into the attic and not only damaged insulation in that area but also leaked into the drywall of the ceiling."

Luxury house with beautiful landscaping. Home exterior.ppa/Shutterstock

Your roots are showing

The big old oak tree in the yard is gorgeous but overgrown trees and shrubs, especially if they are against the house, could be a bad sign of things to come. "After rain storms, water might be accumulating by these shrubs and seeping under the foundations which can cause structural and mold problems," says Bodrozic. That's not your only problem: "Rodents love to get into the house by climbing on trees onto the roof and into the attic, and large tree roots next to a house can cause damage to foundations, sewer pipes, and landscape drainage piping as well." Trimming shrubs near the house is just one of the 14 things every smart homeowner does at least once a month.

Walls and windows masked with paper and plastic as trim and shelves are spray paintedJo Ann Snover/Shutterstock

Permits and building codes

Gutting a house down to the studs? Be aware that a complete remodel often requires permits and local inspections that may call for updates to the house you weren't expecting. "State and local building codes change over time to primarily increase safety and health standards with construction materials and processes. When doing a complete remodel, this requires a permit and local inspections, which often results in even more money being spent to update the house to the latest code requirements," says Bodrozic. Whatever your plans, if you're considering one these 12 home improvement projects—better call a pro.

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