You need to be very careful before committing to the purchase of a house. If the house has wood and brick on the exterior, you need to consider the following issues.
Wood is a beautiful material, particularly when it is used on the exterior of a home. Compared to stucco and other materials, it is a wonder wood is not used more often. The reason, of course, is wood simply does not hold up as well as man made materials. If you are looking at a home with a heavy emphasis on exterior wood siding, trim and so on, here are some things to watch out for when evaluating the opportunity.
1. The first thing to realize is the appearance of wood has almost no relevance to the condition. A perfectly good looking piece of wood trim may be infected with termites or rotting and you will never know by just glancing at it. When inspecting wood exteriors, never trust your eyes.
2. One of the largest issues with wood is degradation. When looking at particular areas, make absolutely sure you physically touch the wood. In fact, you are probably best off giving it a fairly good poke with a finger. In doing so, you should be looking for soft areas. Soft areas are indicative of rot in one form or another. Finding rot in one area should make you very concerned about finding rot through the structure. Put another way, you may want to start looking at other homes on your list.
3. Finding soft spots in wood can be troubling, but there is something worse. If you poke or squeeze a piece of wood and dust or bits fall off, run for the care. This type of degradation is often a sign of termite problems. Termite problems should be a huge red flag for any prospective home. If you buy the house, you are going to have to tent it to kill the bugs and pay to inspect and repair the damage done by the evil little bugs. In short, you are buying a minor, but expensive, nightmare.
Make no mistake, wood can be very attractive on the exterior of a home. Just make sure you do not rely strictly on a visual inspection of it when deciding on the merits of the house.