When shopping for a home check out the.....
BASEMENT for smells!
Check both concrete walls and concrete slab floors for any indications or evidence of cracking. As a general rule, any cracks in concrete walls or concrete slabs that are 1/4-inch wide or wider may be an indication of serious problems that require evaluation by a licensed professional engineer. Remember, the job of the inspector is to observe and report -- not to analyze.
Diagonal cracks that grow in width, especially ones that are wider at the bottom than at the top, indicate a settlement. Diagonal cracks over windows may indicate a weak header. Horizontal wall cracks are typically caused by frost and exist at about the frost line.
Diagonal cracks in a poured concrete foundation that are fairly uniform in width or are hairline-type are caused by shrinkage and, though they may allow water entry, are not considered a structural defect. In general, hair-line cracks in a basement's concrete floor are not considered a serious structural defect. Hairline shrinkage cracks are not typically caused by major settlement, yet they can still be a cause for concern if there are indications of water intrusion through the hairline crack.
Sill plate anchor bolts should have 2-inch washers, be no closer than 7 bolt-diameters from the end of the sill, no further away than 12 inches from the end of the sill, and no fewer than two per piece of sill material.
Check the bottom of the heating system if it sits on the floor. Is it rusted? If so, there may have been flooding, water intrusion problems, or standing water around the heating system in the past.