House Look Over


Buying a house to flip house is not like buying a freshly renovated move-in ready house. Somebody is selling the property as is with all its florals and problems. It's our job to figure out all its hidden secrets prior to the purchase. Once you sign it's yours. The more problems you find before you sign the better off you'll be, every problem that you come across later is a hit to your bottom line. Not to say that even the best house flippers don't come across problems later, that's just the nature of the beast. So as house flippers what can we do about this. It's simple. Just get a good look at the house take your time and get into everything. I can't emphasize this enough the more you find now the better off you'll be later. A broken furnace, holes in the foundation, leaky roof or so many other things will take a big chunk out of your budget. Below is a list of things you should look at in your potential flip property. This is not a magic list they're probably all things missing I'm just giving you the basics. The list is in no particular order of importance.

The house foundation.

Whether your house is in Boston or in Boise your house has some kind of foundation. Buying a house with foundation problems can be very very expensive repairs can't be in the thousands.  Go to sleep earlier houses in Boston was that it was some kind of foundation buying a house with foundation problems can be very very pensive propensity in the thousands. So what are some of the signs of a bad foundation. Not to state the obvious but if the foundation has big gaping cracks in it with some light coming through chances are it has a problem. If the foundation wall has minor cracks that could just be the house settling. Inspect the inside and outside of the house make notes of any think you see. If you don't know what you're looking that you can always hire a structural engineer to help you. If the house has a finished basement it makes it harder to see the exterior walls. This does not mean that you cannot figure out any foundation problems. Look out the walls, are they big cracks, does the floor have gaps around the baseboard. Do door frames have huge gaps. Do the doors close properly. All the floors level. All of these are tell tails on foundation problems. Looking at the joists in the basement. Are there lots of posts holding up the joists. If you find a basement with lots of those temporary support post that's normally a red flag for problems. Once again the cost of the structural engineer is a lot cheaper than foundation problems.


The tiniest little insect can really play havoc with a house. Termites and carpenter ants will destroy pretty much any wood in its way which will give you lots of problems. Take a look at the sill plate from inside the basement. The sill plate sits on top of the concrete foundation the 2x4 or 2x6 studs rest directly on the sill. If the sill is rotten or damaged in any way it may cause sagging in the walls and floors. If the basement is unfinished it is quite easy to see the sill. Walk around the perimeter with a flashlight and a screwdriver push the screwdriver into the wood if the screwdriver penetrates into the woods with minimum force you probably have damage. Also look for Water marks this is also a good indicator of potential damage. Most of the damage done by insects are in the inside of the wood so it is hard to find  indicators of extensive damage not to say that there are not some signs you just have to know what to look for. If you look at the sill plate and it has lots of tiny little holes that could be an indicator of termites or carpenter ants. Not to state the obvious but pay attention to walk creepy cruelties are around in the basement are there lots of ants how big are the ants carpenter ants tend to be quite big. A good home inspector should recognize, termite damage in the sill.  If the house is been vacant for any period of time you may have mice or even rats or in warmer climates snakes. Look for extensive droppings behind cupboards refrigerators and the stove. One more thing that you do not want to find out the hard way is fleas. If the property has any carpet and a temperature is warm enough outside you have to potential for fleas. Fleas will shut down your job before you even get side. A simple insect bomb prior to anyone starting any work takes care of a lot of problems. This unit is you just of the carpet you and your crew could be infected. Not nice. Once again if you have any doubt on any insect problems call a pest control company.

HVAC and heating systems.

When buying a house to flip one of the hardest things to ascertain is whether your heating system or HVAC are in working order. Both of these items can be very costly to replace. Turn on the units to see if they are in working order. This may be a problem in the summer for a heating system and in the window for a HVAC system. (too hot for heat too cold for cool) Crank up or down the thermostat to get the desired result. If you have an oil system check to make sure the unit has oil. If it is an gas in the gas may not be turned on. If you are considering keeping the units bring in a professional prior to signing to get the estimate. Do not go turning on the gas without professional help.

Electrical system

inspecting the electrical system can be quiet difficult if the basement is finished. Lots of old homes still have old fuse boxes and some may even have knob and tube wiring. Find the breaker panel in the basement open of the door (not the cover)and have a look what style of breakers or fuses the house has. If you are unfamiliar electrical systems hire a pro. If the basement is unfinished have a look at what style while you are dealing with. Old houses normally have many different types of wire added throughout the years. As part of your budget and electrician is a must. New buyers love new wire. Look around at the plugs in the house are they two-pronged or three pronged, are there any burn marks around the plugs. Does the house have exposed wires. Take a good look at this take some time to assess the situation electrical plays a big part in planning a flip. Most insurance companies will not give you insurance if there is knob and tube present at the house.


depending on the size of the house inspection of the roof can be difficult. Here are some ways you can and expect the roof from the ground. How many layers of roofing material does the house have. If the roof material looks quite thick chances are there's more than one layer underneath. That is not bad thing if the roof is in good shape not so good if you're going to strip it down because of the cost. Stand back take a look at the roof is it sagging anywhere. Is the caulk cracked around the flashing or all their rust spots could be an indicator of a big or small leak. are shingles curling or buckling, are there any missing shingles, what does the rubber boots around the vent pipe look like, is it cracked and worn. Look on the ground to see if you can find pieces of roofing material. If you can get inside to the attic look to see if you can see date I anywhere or if there is water marks on the wood. Look at the ceilings in the house are there water damage that could be from a leaky roof.  Look at it from a buyers perspective doesn't look good or does it have to be replaced.


drainage is one of those things overlooked for so many different buyers when purchasing a house. Take a look at the gutters and downspouts to make sure they are properly functioning. If you have a driveway that slopes into a garage take a look at the bottom of the door to see if it has substantial watermarks this will let you know if there any drainage issues. Checked the sides of the foundation to see if there's, any holes or cracks caused by water runoff.

Smell that house

As silly as it sounds bad Odors can tell you a lot about the house. Is this smelled just old furniture or old carpet, Or is the smell went or damp. Let your super sniff get to the bottom of the smell. If it's just that the house has not been occupied for a long time that's fine. Damp moldy smells all very difficult to get rid of no one wants to buy a house with that smell in it.

Neighborhood conditions.

Whenever I decide to buy a house I always look at the neighborhood to see the condition of the other houses. Your neighbors houses have a lot to do with your resell price and your resell will help increase their property value. It's always good to drive by the house at different times of day to take a look at the neighborhood. Great neighborhoods sell houses faster.


Generally old homes have single paned windows and storm windows. Look at the condition of all the Windows inside and out. Count the number of Windows, if you are planning to replace all the windows this is a big part of your budget. Are all the windows working and are all the chains in place on the sides. Is the paint chipping off the Windows. Is the paint lead-based. Sometimes it's easier to replace than spend the man-hours removing old lead paint.

Decks and exterior steps

decks are great seven point to any house adding that outside recreational space any buyer would love that. But what lies beneath can be trouble. Before you jump up and down on the deck probably a good idea to check the supports. All the footings properly connected to the post. Dose each joice have a hanger. Is this deck properly bolted to the house. Get underneath take a good look. All the handrails properly fastened. What's the condition of the decking. Is it just in need of power washing or does this decking have to be replaced. Most of the time dealing with all decks you can get away with just replacing the decking boards and just tweaking the frame.

The steps into any house take a lot of beating these on the main egress in and out of the house. Try to take a look at the condition of the stringers. Stand on the steps do they feel secure. All the steps secured properly at the base. All that handrails connected properly.

Final thoughts

Once again whether you're a first-time flipper or seasoned professional, buying a house is a big deal. Take your time. Look over the house for as long as you need to. Even if you get a home inspection they still miss things. It's your money on the line, so take your time.