Congratulations, you finally found the home you’ve been searching for and it looks great! Even better, the seller has recently painted the house and put in some new trim, flooring and has made some other various improvements as well. Good for you – or maybe not.
While you may be dealing with a very honest and forthright seller that simply wanted to make their home more attractive, it is also possible that you are dealing with an unscrupulous seller that made these improvements to hide some of the home’s defects. Unfortunately fresh paint and new building materials make it very difficult for an untrained eye to see beneath the surface and uncover defects. This is where a professional inspection is worth its weight in gold.
#1 – Fresh Paint
The most common, least expensive and most effective way for a seller to hide defects is with a fresh coat of paint, or in some cases several coats of paint. You want to pay particular attention to the types of areas that have received the fresh paint.
Fresh paint in a basement should be a red flag since paint can cover up most, if not all, clues that the basement has a tendency to take on water at certain times of the year. Waterproofing a basement can cost thousands of dollars. Fresh paint on ceilings can very effectively hide water stains which otherwise might point to a leaky roof, rotten joists or trusses, mold and even structural problems.
Again, these are the types of repairs that you are going to have to deal with in the future and they can be quite expensive. Paint can be used on a variety of surfaces to effectively hide defects. If the painter is good and is intentionally hiding problems they can take their time to fill cracks and match colour and texture when spot painting.
Paint is also frequently used on the exterior of homes to hide defects. Rusting vents can be painted to look like new, wood that is starting to rot on the inside can be effectively covered with paint and even more concerning is when paint is used to cover cracks in foundations. These types of cover-ups with paint can often fool a prospective homebuyer, especially when viewed through the proverbial ‘rose coloured glasses’.
We often see what we want to see and unconsciously disregard anything to the contrary. Thankfully, a trained and unbiased building inspector has special tools and techniques that they can apply when they see fresh paint. They use special procedures that allow them to spot variations in colour and texture and can even probe beneath the surface to determine the current or previous presence of moisture.
To be continued…