The Case of the Missing Garbage Disposal, and Other New Home Horror Stories


You’re a bona fide open-house warrior. You’ve seen all the places, clicked pics and shot video, sent a few Snapchats, made pros-and-cons lists. You know these homes like the back of your hand.

Or do you?

It might seem safe to assume your new home will come with all the essentials, but house hunting is a blur and it’s painfully easy to overlook the small things. Sometimes even thebig things. Now that you’ve made an offer, do you really know what you’re getting?

Play it safe and check for these commonly overlooked features, pronto.

In the kitchen

It doesn’t take a lot for a kitchen to work smoothly, but if you’re missing a few key items you’ll wind up miserable.

Make sure the space has all the time-saving gadgets you need, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Garbage disposal
  • Sink sprayer
  • Proper ventilation (preferably in the form of a range hood)


If the seller or builder is providing appliances, make sure that meanseverything, including the microwave.

“Microwaves are easily overlooked, because a vent hood can take its place,” saysChandler Crouch, broker in Fort Worth, TX.

And don’t assume everything you see is included.

“See that nice island? Double-check to make sure it’s permanent,” Crouch says.

In the bathroom

No, the bathroom won’t look exactly the same when you move in, and this may largely be a good thing. Most sellers will take the shower curtains, shower heads, and possibly the lightbulbs when they head for greener pastures. Still, some features should stay in place.

Check for these items:

  • Towel racks
  • Toilet paper holders
  • Shower curtain rod (maybe give it a good tug to make sure it’s sturdy)


Also, test the ventilation system. Make sure it works, and listen for any loud pops or pings that might indicate a problem. You’ll thank us later.

Throughout the house

Once you have a feel for a place, go back through every room and look for the little conveniences you might have overlooked earlier.

For example, will the gorgeous fireplace in the living room even work?

“Not all gas fireplaces have a gas starter,” Crouch says. “Some wood-burning fireplaces don’t have a chimney but still look totally legit.”

Check every room for grounded three-prong outlets. Two-pronged outlets are basically useless for today’s needs. Ideally there will be at least one outlet in the bathroom and one on each wall in every room.

Visually inspect the paint and caulking around windows and doors.

“It may seem insignificant, but every house needs new paint and caulk every 10 years or so,” Crouch says. “It’s costly and time-consuming. Check the remaining life.”


Sure, the lawn looks beautifully landscaped and you’re already planning a few debauched barbecued mahi-mahi/octopus shindigs on the deck next summer. But are you seeing the full picture? It’s easy to miss things outside (how can you screw up nature?!), but there are a few necessities you’ll want to take note of.

  • Check for a sprinkler system. This isn’t always advertised by the seller, especially if it doesn’t work properly. And a faulty sprinkler system can cause major problems, like excessive weed growth and foundation troubles, according to Crouch.
  • If the property is fenced, check for working gates. Don’t just assume you’ll have the access points you want.
  • Check along the perimeter for an outdoor spigot. You’ll want—no, make that need—water access in the front and back yards.
  • In the garage, check for an automatic door opener. No, seriously. “It happens. Some builders charge extra. People in foreclosure remove them. Old houses don’t always have them,” Crouch says.


Finally, don’t just assume everything that seems permanent is actually going to stay with the home.

“Not all sellers understand the rules,” Crouch says.