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As potential home buyers, when you are hunting for a new Waterloo Region house you are likely to see a large number of different homes as you search for the right one. And it is hardly surprising that it is easy to get overwhelmed and become so distracted by beautifully staged homes and facts and figures that you might forget to ask some essential questions, questions that if left unasked may end up costing you dearly.
If you see a paint colour you are less than fond of it can be changed in a weekend rather inexpensively. Appliances that you dislike will cost a little more to change but not significantly so if you shop smart. But there are some other issues should really give you pause because they’ll require costly repairs, or they may indicate larger, underlying problems that will be very hard, if not impossible, to fix.
What are these? Here are some things to keep in mind and questions you must not forget to ask, especially before even considering making an offer.
How Old is the Home’s Roof?
The rooms in a home are very important; square footage, the layout etc, it’s all stuff to take notice of. But you also need to be concerned about the ‘skeleton’ of the house, and that certainly includes the roof.
The typical modern roof has a useful lifespan of between 15-30 years, depending upon the quality of the materials and the quality of the installation work done. The cost of a replacement roof is far from inexpensive, often running into five figures. Therefore it is crucial that you not only ask about the age of the roof but the materials used the last time it was replaced before you even start crunching numbers on an offer.
Once again looking at the skeleton of the house rather than its ‘innards’, the foundation is certainly a large part of that as well. Superficial blemishes and tiny cracks may not be much of an issue but if you observe wide cracks it may indicate a more serious problem that needs to be professionally explored before a sale is discussed.
The State of the Sewer System
Many people are, to be fair, almost completely clueless about their sewer and septic system, especially when it comes to their level of responsibility. Often a homeowner may labour under the belief that it is the town or city’s responsibility to cover damages if something goes wrong, but often that is not the case. The condition of a home’s sewer lines is also something that is not covered by a home inspection as standard, so if the property owner cannot tell you about the last time the sewer was inspected, or the septic tank pumped then making the investment in a dedicated sewer inspection could prove to be a wise move.
Previous Water Damage
The signs of previous water damage are not always easy to spot. And the simple fact is that a homeowner may not be very forthcoming about water issues that have occurred in the past, especially if they believe they dealt with the problem and it’s now a non – issue. Make sure you ask about wet basement issues, outdoor leaks into the indoors and if you spot wet patches or notice a musty smell in the basement it’s a good bet that yes, there is trouble and it may be worse than even the seller imagines.
How Old is the Wiring?
If you are considering an older home there is a good chance that the original wiring is still intact. Many older systems do still technically function (by older we mean pre-mid seventies) but they are often very energy inefficient and can pose a significant safety risk. And some insurance companies may even refuse to issue a policy to you based on an outdated wiring system. If the wiring is older you should get an electrician to verify any seller-provided details about wiring or electrical systems.
How Old Are the Windows?
Original, older windows can be beautiful but they can also be the cause of skyrocketing utility bills at certain times of the year. Sometimes they can be upgraded to increase their energy efficiency, in other cases, they would need to be replaced. That means that you should consider the cost of replacement windows if and when you decide to make an offer on the home.