Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced one, going through an open house inspection can still be a daunting task.

Always remember that there’s more to a home than how it looks. So, don’t let the stunning interior design sway your decision too much. A thorough check into the property’s state of repair should be on your watch list.

Avoid a costly nightmare in owning a home with these 10 warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored.

1. Sagging Ceilings

A sagging ceiling is a sign of a serious structural problem with the house. If it’s accompanied by wall cracks or hard to open doors and windows, it may indicate a sinking foundation. An inadequate support structure, water pooling on the ceiling due to a leak or termites feasting on the load-bearing beams can cause a ceiling to sag.

Try shining a light across the ceilings. This can show up all drifts and defects in the ceiling sheets.

2. Signs of Mold

Mold seems to look like harmless clouds on ceilings and walls. But when you notice one, be worried. Why? Because mold is bad for your health. By releasing allergens into the air, it can provoke respiratory health issues and cause allergic reactions. If you have a family member who has asthma, a baby or an elderly person will live in the house you’re buying, make sure mold isn’t present.

Typically, homeowners will paint over damp areas before staging their house for viewing. So it’s advised to look for newly painted areas in the house. But because you can’t physically see them, trust your nose and pay attention to its unwelcoming smell.

3. Old or Damaged Pipes

Before buying a home, checking for plumbing issues is a priority. Determine whether or not the water pipes have been replaced. If they are copper or plastic, they won’t corrode like steel. If they are galvanized steel, consider looking for small holes that could be rusty. It means they are old and have to be replaced.

Plumbing issues if not resolved will haunt you once you’ve bought the property. Your dream home can turn into your worst nightmare. So make sure the pipes and the sewer are working fine when you conduct your home inspection.

4. Ineffective Heating Systems

A heating system that is functioning properly and efficiently is essential to a home’s comfort. However, a working central heating system installed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s efficient or that the house is well-heated. Request for it to be turned on during your visit.

If the home has radiators, during the inspection, ensure that all radiators are emitting heat as they should be by switching the heating on. Are there any signs of leakage or rust on the radiators? A home’s substandard heating system could mean recurring costs.

5. Roof Truss Problems

Bracing problems like missing nails and poor grade lumber is an indication of a truss failure. It may result in the roof not being able to resist excessive loads of rain, snow or wind. And that’s dangerous!

Tag along with the home inspector during the inspection. They’ve got the expertise to check whether the truss is still sturdy and can recommend a proper way to address a broken or damaged roof truss.

6. Foundation Cracks

Cracks can be an indication that a home has serious foundation damage that requires expensive repair work. Look for large v-shaped cracks inside. This can be a sign of movement usually caused by unstable soil or drainage issues.

Also, have the internal wall plastering checked for fine hairlines cracks caused by the incorrect application at the time of construction. If they appear over windows, doorways or where the ceiling meets walls, it’s a cause of concern.

Remember, the beauty of the home won’t matter if its foundation is unstable. It’s also dangerous!

7. Faulty Electric Wires

As buyers focus more on aesthetics, they often overlook the mechanical system of a house. Dodgy wiring is a safety concern that can truly cause harm to your family and worse, may even result in a house fire. 

Copper conductors are ideal for wiring materials in the house. Beware of aluminum wiring for it can be troublesome. Additionally, don’t forget to notice bare and exposed wiring that could pose harm.

If the electrical system looks cluttered and messy, follow your gut. A professional electrician can help you with that. Be thorough in spotting such issues. 

8. Warped Windows

Windows can affect a home’s moisture and energy efficiency. Related problems are more costly than you might expect.

Don’t forget to take a closer look at the windows and confirm that they all open and close correctly to rule out warping. Ensure that all the seals are well-maintained and intact as well. 

9. Inadequate Natural Lighting

Aside from cutting down on the cost of electricity, natural light is the most powerful light you can bring into your home. 

You should check if all the rooms inside the house receive ample natural lighting. Toilets, kitchens and staircases should have a window wherever possible. 

10. Clogged Gutters

To avoid any potential weakening of the structure, the guttering should carry water away from the house and be graded to direct any runoff away from the foundations.

Look into the top side of the gutter to check if it’s clogged up with debris and leaves. This leads to an inability to drain off rainwater causing serious damage to the home. 


A home inspection can be an essential step in your home buying process, especially if considering an older home. Understanding as many details about the property you’re buying is imperative. Without looking thoroughly at a house can pose unexpected problems and with the excitement of owning your dream home, it’s very easy to get carried away.

Being thoroughly prepared and inspecting the home allows you to know about both the perks and pitfalls it may have to offer. 

So remember, if you see any warning signs, don’t ignore them, do a home inspection!

Home Buying Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore, Home buying in greater toronto area

Daisy Raouph, CLU, CHS, specializes in mortgage financing solutions and financial services. A Mortgage Broker and Financial Security Advisor with over 30 years of experience in financial services. Contact us today to review your mortgage financing options. We can help!