real estate

How to avoid buying a money pit

Check the basement
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Check the basement

In many parts of the country, homes have basements. The basement should be the first stop on your tour, and not because you're thinking about storage possibilities.

"When I want to get a quick read on the quality of a house, I head to the basement," says Bradley B. Cruickshank, a contractor and owner of Cruickshank Remodeling in Atlanta. "From the basement, you typically can see the type of construction, quality of materials and evidence of the quality of tradesmen who built it."

The basement will also give a clear picture of the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. Looking at those systems will give you an idea of the equipment's age and how well it's been maintained.

That's important, because all of those systems can cost a bundle to repair, Cruickshank says.




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