Planning to invest in real estate? An open house will be an important part of your house hunt. It gives you the time to tour the property and see if every detail checks off. When going for an open house, you would want to be as observant as possible and spot all the faults that may be concealed beneath the surface. House sellers sometimes play a game of “smokes and mirrors” to improve their prospects.  


Most homeowners will add some nice surface finishes that can leave a good impression on the potential buyer but may conceal more serious structural issues. To be in the clear, it is prudent to look at the “bones” in the building. Look at the condition of the structural features and other important fixtures that are likely to cost an arm and leg to fix. The challenge is that many of these structural issues cannot be spotted easily right off the bat. Here is an overview on how to spot faults in a building during an open house.


Have a checklist

Prospective buyers spend 96 minutes on average during an open house. There will be so much to cover in very little time and you may end up overlooking some serious faults. If you are going for an open house, create a checklist of the most important things that you wish to assess. This will help keep your eye on the ball as you go about the countless steps of property inspection.


Watch out on hidden contamination

Prospective homebuyers will be focusing on the surface. However, you could also inherit some critical contamination issues that will cost you an arm and leg once you have occupied the property. Does the property have hidden contamination? Are the sewer systems in order? Does it have some land fill or garbage problem that will likely result in extra property management costs? It’s good to have a comprehensive property inspection so as to get a clear picture of what you will be buying into.



Does the property have a moisture problem? Is it well ventilated? Can you spot some musty smell? Homebuyers might add some touch-up paint or new tiling installation but if the property has a moisture problem, you are going to grapple with mould growth issues as soon as you settle into the property.


Faults in the building foundation

Structural defects in the building foundations are quite critical. The foundation supports the whole structure and also serves other important functions such as waterproofing the building. For the most part, faults in the building foundation will be cosmetic in nature or simply constitute small “harmless” cracks. However, if you are seeing large cracks in the foundation of the building, that should be a cause for alarm. While cracked foundations are rarely disastrous, for the most part, they point to an underlying issue such as moisture problems in the ground, shifting ground or construction defects that may be costlier to fix.


Wiring Faults

The best way to determine if your building wiring system is in excellent condition is by ordering a building electrical inspection. The wiring should be up to the latest standards and should be able to support your electrical load otherwise you may grapple with serious electrical faults such as fires, shocks, insubstantial power, dead outlets and flickering or dimming lighting.


Faults in the sewer or septic system

These faults are generally more concealed and are not covered during a general house inspection. It is therefore possible to overlook these and purchase a house with very weak underlying septic system. This will not only pose a serious health risk but it is quite costly to replace or repair.



It may not be easy to spot faults on a roof so you have to look at other indicators. Inquire on the age of the roof and its warranty. If it is past its warranty, you are going to grapple with a lot of repair issues a few years down the line. You should also look at the integrity of the supporting structure for your roofing or signs of any disintegrating roofing material. The presence of mouldy growth on your roof is also a bad sign.


Doors and windows

These are often overlooked but repair or replacement can be quite costly. Try out the doors and windows to determine if they are in good shape. If they were installed ages ago, the frames or supporting structure may have undergone some disintegration.