Exterior Property Inspections: Buildings Are Important, but So Are Their Surroundings

If you own a property that has been vacant for a long time, don't assume that it's doing just fine because no one's been living there. Even if you're sure no one's gotten inside, the outside could have developed problems just by being exposed to the elements and to nature in general. If you're getting ready to rent the property again, you will have to be sure to get the exterior and landscaping inspected quickly to ensure you catch things that could grow into major problems if left unchecked.

Pest Infestations

The most obvious threat to property that's been left alone for a while is a pest infestation. It's very easy for a colony of pretty much anything to move in and take over a garden bed or decaying fence. Look for holes that look like they lead into tubes in wood if termites are a hazard in your area, and check over all plants and sidewalk cracks for ants and other insects. It will help to get a property-management company do a property inspection, as they'll have landscapers on staff who can spot things you might miss.

Trip Hazards

Old sidewalks, garden stepping stones, and patio sections can create trip hazards if tree roots have snuck their way under the concrete or asphalt. If your area is prone to quakes or unstable soil or erosion risks, those too can cause buckling and cracking, all of which can make walking over the surfaces hazardous. Inspecting before renting will allow you to patch or replace those areas so that your new tenant remains safe.

Gate Malfunctions and Mailbox Problems

Rain, ice, and vandalism can all take their toll on gates, fences, exterior mailboxes, and the like, and the damage can happen without your knowing. Have a property-management company send maintenance people to inspect all of these fixtures and note (and repair, if possible) even minor damage. If they find vandalism, look for additional possible entry points; it's possible the vandals were able to jump a fence, meaning you might want to add a new one that's taller to protect the property. The better-looking the outside of your property is, the happier your new tenant will be.

Talk to property-management companies about arranging for an inspection of exterior parts of the property. While leaving the property alone for a while might reduce the risk of interior damage, the exterior is going to need some care.