Going shopping for a house can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. After all, purchasing a house for your family will require significant expenses, and ending up with the wrong house can prove costly.

So how do you buy the right house? The trick is recognizing the telltale signs of damage, poor conditions, and other potential problems. Here, then, are tips on what to look for when buying a single-family house.

1. Pick the right neighborhood

Remember that you’re buying this house for your family. Ensure the house is in a low-crime neighborhood. Ideally, there should also be nearby schools, hospitals, groceries, and other relevant facilities.

2. Survey the house’s surroundings

Scrutinize the area around the house. Is it prone to wildfires or flooding? Are there properly built and sturdy fences? Is the house built too close to its neighbors?

3. Examine the roof

Having roofs fixed can prove expensive; thankfully, you can tell if a roof is in bad shape if it has holes or is sagging in certain places. Be certain to find out if the roof is made of material that can endure harsh weather conditions, as well.

4. Look for structural issues

Inspect the house’s interior for structural problems, such as loose wires and old appliances. Don’t let a fresh paint job fool you; look underneath the facade of newness for potential problems.

5. Sniff out strange odors

Strange and unpleasant odors are often hinting that all is not well with the house. The smell of sewage can mean a damaged or blocked sewage system, for example. Likewise, keep alert for gas, mildew, and animal odors.

6. Inspect the plumbing

Look under every sink for leaky pipes or water damage. Keep an eye out for mold, as well, as mold can cause health problems.

7. Ensure the house can keep you comfortable in any season

Proper insulation makes a house comfortable and reduces cooling and heating costs during cold and hot seasons. It’s also wise to check if the house’s temperature regulation systems are in good condition, as inefficient ones can increase utility costs.

8. Make sure everything works

Open every door and window. Flick on every switch, turn on every faucet, and flush every toilet. It’s a great sign if everything works. A few faulty devices, however, isn’t necessarily bad news – just be certain to determine if there’s a way to solve these problems without costing you too much.

9. Consider your personal needs

If you’re buying a house for a large family or if you plan on having visitors over, a house with additional bedrooms is a must. Kids, pets, and guests will appreciate a backyard, too.

10. Hire a home inspector

Once you’re done examining the house yourself, have a professional home inspector to look for any other defect you might have missed.

Finding the right house for your family needn’t be a painful experience; if you keep everything discussed above in mind, you’ll be sure to find the perfect home in no time.