How Do You Avoid Buying a Money Pit? Here Are 7 Gotchas.

How Do You Avoid Buying a Money Pit

You should watch the famous Tom Hanks movie, “The Money Pit,” before buying a house. The film is hilarious, but it gives a lucid depiction of what homeowners endure when they acquire a fixer-upper that becomes a money pit.

People often prefer buying a fixer-upper since it is cheap and increases in value. However, your house will become a money pit when you buy a house with many structural problems, plumbing issues, toxins, and mold.

Because we don’t that to happen to you, we prepared this guide that details all the elements that you should look out for when buying a house.

1. Check the House’s Structure

Before finalizing the purchase, you should evaluate the house’s structure. Most notably, the house should have a good foundation, entailing a concrete perimeter wall and footing.

Since you may lack the expertise to evaluate the house’s structure keenly, you shouldn’t use your vision to determine the house’s solidity. Hire a professional to tell you if the structure is intact or just normal settling.

The house should be straight and firm from a far distance and should not have bulges or bends in some areas.

Furthermore, the floors should be level, strong, and even. You can even jump in the middle of the room to test the floor’s structural integrity.

Your floors may need additional support if they are springy when jumping.

Read More: What Are The Risks Of Buying An Old House?

2. Look for Rotting Paint

The paint inside and outside the house can demonstrate many things about it. You should specifically check the paint around the bathrooms’ window frames.

If you notice discoloration, mold, and mildew, there is something wrong with the house’s paint. It may also mean that the house is rotting, and you should not let the seller deceive you during the negotiations.

Another thing you should check is the wall’s softness. You can do this by using a screwdriver to poke inside the walls.

If the screwdriver goes through the wall, there is something wrong with the house’s walls. Occasionally, it may mean a water leakage behind the walls, making it soft.

Additionally, look for big cracks on the walls, which is another red flag. V-shaped cracks on the wall may mean the house has various foundation problems.

3. Check the House’s Drainage Situation

A good house should have an effective drainage system that transports water away from it. You should note that if the house has faced various drainage issues in the past, it will experience the same problems in the future.

Thus, you should check the house’s basement and look for signs that show previous flooding incidents. For example, look for watermarks on the house’s foundation walls.

Furthermore, if the basement has flooded in the past, it means there is mold growth in the basement. Some of the molds can be removed, but some will require abatement services, which increases your repair costs.

4. Avoid Houses With Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral consisting of flexible fibers resistant to heat and corrosion. This material was used for construction in the past since it is a good insulator.

However, long-term asbestos exposure can lead to cancer and other lung diseases like asbestosis.

As such, you should test the house’s asbestos exposure, especially if you buy one constructed before the 1970s.

This is because asbestos was used for construction during that era before it was restricted. Chances are that the house’s roof, tiles, and siding contain this poisonous material.

Apart from the medical bills you will incur due to asbestos exposure, it will cost you a lot of money to eradicate this mineral.

For instance, you may incur $800 for the asbestos tests. Furthermore, it will cost you $30,000 to eradicate the asbestos from your house. You may also spend $20,000 on new materials, increasing the total expenses.

Read More: Does the Age of a House Matter?

5. Check the House’s Plumbing System

You should check the material used for the pipes when evaluating the house’s plumbing system.

Thus, make sure the plumbing system contains copper pipes rather than steel pipes. This is because steel pipes are constricted after a while due to various deposits, thus decreasing water pressure.

You can conduct a specific test to determine your house’s plumbing situation if it only has steel pipes. Turn on the taps located in the bathroom that is furthest from the water heater. If the water flow slows down considerably, the house’s plumbing system may have to be replaced in the future.

Ultimately, you will incur more plumbing repair costs than anticipated.

6. Evaluate the Electrical System

You should check whether the house’s electrical service panel is old. Ultimately, updating your electrical system may cost you more than $3000.

Furthermore, the electrical service panel should handle all your electricity needs. If the circuit breaker’s capacity is 100 amps, it may be not enough for your family.

You should also confirm whether the house has 220-volt service. You can check the wires from the electrical company’s pole to your house. If it has two wires connected to the house, it uses a 110-volt service, which must be corrected.

7. Check the Roof

You can know if the house’s roof has a problem by checking the ceiling for water stains. You can also use binoculars to evaluate the roofs and determine their condition. Looking for signs of sagging, mold, leaks, or loose tiles. Ask the current owner how old is the roof.

Ultimately, roof repairs may be inexpensive, but roof replacement will cost you more.


A house becomes a money pit if you spend more money on it than what is worth. Some fixer-upper houses are cheap, but you may have to reconstruct the house’s bones to make it habitable and safe. If that’s the case, you won’t recover your money once you sell it.

You should check the house’s electrical system, plumbing, structural foundation, drainage system, roofs, and walls before you buy it. If you’re not an expert, hire one. The inspector will provide you with a report detailing all the problems the house might have.

Thus, you should look out for these things to avoid buying a money pit.

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