Buying a new home is a game changer, and as with all things in the game of life, there are both winners and losers. You want to buy the home in which you’ll make a lifetime of memories, not the home you’ll spend a lifetime regretting. It’s essential to go in prepared.
Unexpected expenses are hiding behind the walls, in the attic and under the ground. While it’s easy to get emotional when you’re shopping for your dream home, a cool head and a critical eye can save you – and your life savings – a world of hurt in the years to come. Follow the advice here and you can feel confident in buying your new abode.
Unearth Buried Secrets with the Drainage Diagram
Deciphering a property’s drainage diagram – also known as the sewage service diagram – is quite possibly the least exciting thing a potential buyer can do; however, the information it contains can save you a small fortune later on. You can obtain it through the state’s water board, and you’d do well to take a moment and learn how to read it properly.
Once you do, you’ll be able to tell if the sewage system has been upgraded. If the property is still being serviced by ancient clay pipes, you will invariably end up paying for the upgrades yourself when – not if – they leak.
It’s an even worse situation if those old pipes lie underneath any of the home’s add-ons. If there are leaky clay pipes underneath an extension or a deck, you’re in for a world of hurt.
Try the Tap
Older homes are often attractive options for first-time buyers, but as you might expect, they often come with baggage. The home’s plumbing is the first place to look for trouble, so give it a thorough inspection.
Check the water pressure in the bath and the taps and ask the current owner if the pipes are insulated and – for the sake of your family – not made of lead. Old water heaters can be energy hogs, so you’ll want to inquire about its age as well.
If you’re lucky, the home’s systems will have received an upgrade that included an upgrade of the old valves and fittings. New, state-of-the-art equipment isn’t just more efficient – it also reduces the chance of potentially damaging leaks throughout the home.
If These Walls Could Talk
Most homes will be subject to hairline cracks that appear over time, but with bigger cracks come bigger headaches in the future. If there are any noticeable cracks where the walls meet the ceilings, or if any of the doors fail to latch properly, it may mean that there are critical problems hiding in the structure of the home.
If you see any of these warning signs, your best bet is to call in a professional surveyor. Doing so can be rather expensive, but so are the potential repairs required to fix a shaky structure. You’ll have a couple of different kinds of surveys to choose from, but the most expensive option – a full-on building survey – will give you the best insight into the future of the home.
The Importance of Insulation
Home insulation is uses a rating system that’s based upon its R-value. An insulation’s R-value is a measure of its resistance in terms of heat flow – a high R-value means more resistance and, thus, better insulation.
You’ll want to consult a map like this one to find the recommended R-value for the region to which you’re moving. While warmer climates generally don’t require insulation rated higher than R25 or R30, a region that’s subject to a harsh winter season demands a rating of at least R38.
A home without adequate insulation for its location means more than just a bit of chill in the winter. Heating and cooling costs account for a major portion of a household’s energy bill, and if the insulation isn’t holding in the air, you’ll end up paying for your home’s HVAC system to work overtime.
The attic isn’t often a major consideration when you’re looking at homes, but you should head up there all the same. Giving it a good inspection can reveal moisture, mould and other signs of water damage that could indicate the need for costly roof repairs.
Even if everything upstairs is in good shape, you may still wish to include the cost of a new roof coating in your home buying budget. The dark colours of traditional roofing absorb heat in the summer, and that makes life difficult for your air conditional. Investing in a specially-formulated reflective coating will not only save on cooling costs, but also extend the life of your roof.
While all of these potential problems might be a bit alarming, arming yourself with this kind of knowledge can help you avoid anything that might turn your exciting new adventure into a serious regret. Taking the time to find out exactly what you’re buying will give you peace of mind for years to come.