A house inspection is when it’s time to take off your rose coloured glasses and look out for these red flags. Buying a property? Here’s what you can’t afford to miss!
Brisbane Building and Pest Inspections

House Inspection Red Flags You Cannot Afford To Miss

When you decide to buy a home, it’s a very exciting process. Big ideas start swimming around in your head and you start to imagine your ideal home. But try not to look through those rose coloured glasses – the excitement of buying a new home can often make things look a lot better than they actually are during a house inspection.

House inspection red flags to look out for

Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the same goes for a property. Unfortunately, when it comes to selling a property, owners can often be less than honest and resort to cover-ups, crossing their fingers and toes in the hope that their hidden secrets aren’t found.

Recently changed carpet that doesn’t match, walls that are painted a different colour or strategically placed styling may not faze you, but to a building inspector, they’re red flags.
Now that your buying journey has started, take note of these red flags to look out for at your next house inspection.

Painted walls

Of course, a coat of fresh paint always does wonders to uplift a property for sale but, do question areas which look to be spot-painted, why a particular room is painted a different colour to the rest of the house or why only one wall or section of the ceiling is painted in a room. This could potentially be the seller trying to cover up an underlying problem.

DIY work & repairs

With the rise of DIY thanks to home renovation shows on television, there are many properties with DIY repairs and renovations. Where many of these are done very well, there’s also a lot of dodgy DIY out there. Bad DIY jobs to look for include dodgy plumbing, electrical and carpentry work, leaky taps and uneven flooring.

Strange smells

Real Estate agents love to encourage sellers to create a certain feel when potential buyers enter a property, suggesting everything from baking something in the oven to burning oils or having fresh flowers throughout the house. This is a lovely touch but are these strong smells hiding something they don’t want you to know about?

Pay very close attention to odours. The property could have a very strong cat odour or there could be a strong smell of damp which is a sign of more serious problems. If you’re concerned that the ‘nice’ smells are getting in the way of a thorough house inspection, request a second visit without the candles, food and flowers.

The neighbourhood

You’ve finally found a house for sale in one of your favourite neighbourhoods but don’t let that cloud your judgement. Where the open home might be on a nice quiet Sunday afternoon, it could be hiding a very big secret because come Monday, the work traffic creates a constant hum and you can hear the PA system of the neighbouring school throughout the day. The best way to ascertain if the property is for you is to arrange a house inspection at different times throughout the week.

Stains on walls

Stains on walls may not just be the result of an owner with a lax cleaning regime, it could hold the answer to some underlying issues. It’s essential to find out the underlying issues of these stains through a pre-purchase property inspection.

Stains on walls could be the result of so many things including a roof leak, internal plumbing leak, a shower leak or mould from poor ventilation. Stains may look like an easy fix but their underlying problems can cost thousands of dollars to fix.


Although electricals should be inspected by a licensed electrician, there are still obvious things to look out for, particularly in older properties.

In addition to dodgy DIY repairs, keep an eye out for any unsheathed permanent wiring, exposed wiring, look at the condition of the power points and switches, test switches and see if the lights flicker. Also look to see if there are any smoke alarms. Unfortunately, DIY electrical work not only costs money to rectify but can pose a serious safety risk.

We always recommend having a licensed electrician complete a thorough inspection to ensure electricals abide by current government regulations.


Living in Brisbane, we have plenty of dry periods, and so it’s difficult to see whether or not a property has drainage issues. Normally this would be evident by pooling water and overflowing gutters, however, there are some obvious red flags you can see without the rain.

Look out for water stains on the side or underneath the house as well as cracking in the foundation as a sign of poor drainage.

Uneven windows and doors

Don’t be afraid to go around opening and closing windows and doors during a house inspection because if they don’t open or close properly, you’ve found yourself another red flag.
When windows and doors don’t close properly, and if there are obvious cracks in walls, there could be an underlying issue with the foundation. It could be a case of minor subsidence or it could be a larger structural problem.


Termites, possums, rats and mice – they’re hard to detect, but you can still keep a look out for tell-tale signs.

For the presence of termites, take a look at these 10 signs a house has termite damage. For the presence of possums, listen for noise in the roof, particularly at night. Checking the attic or roof space is also another way to check if there are possums present. With rats and mice, it can be a little difficult, and a clean seller has likely vacuumed up any evidence of rat or mouse poo, but still keep a look out for droppings in nooks and crannies that may have been missed.

Of course, a house inspection is the perfect time to ‘ooh and ahh’ over a potential new property but taking the extra time to look for these red flags and then following them up with a pre-purchase inspection, will make you feel even more confident about your final purchase decision.

Noticed red flags at a house inspection? BOOK A PRE-PURCHASE INSPECTION TODAY!


About Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh has been answering home inspection questions in the greater Brisbane area since 1995. He has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections and is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. Being the business owner and the inspector, Andrew is passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property.

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