What to look out for at an open house from a tradie

When you’re in the market to buy a new home, an open house is a great way to view a property without the pressure of a sales agent guiding your every step.

Open houses offer buyers an opportunity to consider whether they will buy a house and if so what price to offer. If an offer is made to purchase the house, the contract is often subject to a building and pest inspection.

While the inspections carried out by the professionals will give you thorough information , there are things you can do at an open house inspection that might ultimately help you make your decision as to whether it’s a property you want to buy. If there are certain areas in the house that need to be fixed or updated, you may consider offering a lower price to allow for the cost of these upgrades later on. Knowing about these flaws or upgrades can allow you to negotiate the price down from what is being asked.

Having said that, you need to know what to look for so you can avoid buying a house that needs a lot of work done to it (unless of course you’re buying it to renovate). So, here are 9 things to look out for at an open house from my experience as a tradie:


  1. Check the quality of the renovation. What may look visually appealing to the eye, may not have been installed to code. A solicitor can do the investigative work to check the certifications for recent renovations, but you can get a general idea of whether  the renovations have been done well by seeing if tiles have been installed level. This will help you avoid  purchasing a home that has had a poor  renovation job. which could cost thousands of dollars to fix. And the only way to fix it in most cases is to completely gut the reno and start again. Walk on the tiles and make sure they don’t move underfoot – a good  way to know if waterproofing has been installed.  Look under vanity cupboards to see how neatly the plumbing has been installed. If it looks messy, it may have been done by a DIY renovator which increases the likelihood that you will have problems.
  2. Look at the state of the walls and architraves. Are there large cracks? Most homes are subject to some movement, but bigger cracks or multiple cracks should be cautiously noted.
  3. Check the water pressure. Many older homes have gal pipe as their water pipe and after years of use, the orifice of the pipe gets a buildup of sediment and rust which can affect   water pressure. If under the house has an exposed ceiling the easiest way to check if the house has gal pipe is to see what pipes run under the floor.  If you can’t see the pipes, turn the water on and see how fast the water flows. Don’t forget to check the hot water side for pressure too.
  4. Another reason to turn the tap on is to check for water hammer. Water hammer is a plumbing issue that can sometimes be fixed. Consider if you can live in a house that rattles when the taps are turned on. It’s definitely something you can check during the open house inspection.
  5. Look at carpets and floor coverings. Can you live with them in their present state or will you need to replace them? This can be a considerable cost to replace if you choose to do so after purchasing the property.
  6.  Check the date of manufacture of the hot water unit. You can usually get around 10-15 years out of a hot water unit. Checking the date of manufacture gives you an idea of how much life may be left in the unit. The way to locate the hot water unit is to look outside the property as they are often installed outside.
  7. Look at the gutters and downpipes. Check for rust spots and holes. This is another expense that should be considered as most people don’t consider looking at the state of the outdoor plumbing.
  8. Look at the roof. Is it made of tiles or metal? Does it look like it needs to be replaced, for example is the roof  rusted?
  9. After looking up, look down and see if there are storm water drains installed. These are crucial for rain water removal. A house that doesn’t have them is something to take note of, especially if the house is built on a slope or is built below a retaining wall.

If something doesn’t look right when you walk through the open house, make a note of it and ask the sales agent questions. Of course, being too picky can also mean you could miss out on a great property. Knowing what to look for and considering what you’re prepared to live with are key points to consider when judging a house for its potential. 

Guest Blogger Bec Senyard believes a girl can be both practical and stylish at the same time. Bec writes two blogs: The Plumbette , which is her foot in the construction pie, sharing plumbing tips and lifestyle memoirs and Styled by Bec, which offers fashion advice for busy mums who are after budget-friendly tips.


The information provided to you is general and may not be appropriate for you. Conditions, criteria and fees apply to products. Please consider the Guide to Heritage Deposit Products or the Guide to Heritage Credit Card Products (available in-branch, by phoning 13 14 22 or at www.heritage.com.au) before you decide whether a product is right for you.

* Based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

The information provided is intended as general information only. Blogs have been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining personal investment, taxation and/or legal advice before making any decision.  Please consider the Guide to Heritage Deposit Products and Guide to Heritage Credit Card Products (available in-branch, or at www.heritage.com.au) before you decide whether a product is right for you. All loans and credit cards are subject to application and approval. Conditions, criteria and fees apply and are subject to change without notice.