The moment you close on a home and get the keys in your hands, you will embracing the concept of “you bought it, you fix it.” In other words, everything that follows from that moment in terms of home repairs will be handled by you and your bank account. A lot is to be expected with regard to normal “wear and tear” of living in a space. However, what you shouldn’t expect are things that were “inherited” by the previous owner which could have been forewarned. This is why home inspections are so important. Of course, if you’re going to have home inspections that reveal major problems, then you should also be able to walk away from the deal before closing time. Here are some red flag warnings to be on the look out for when shopping for a home:
So many problems can be generated with the tiniest of leaks in your roof. It’s not just about patching that leak but also potentially tearing up walls and handling mold remediation. The first question to ask is, “How old is the roof?” If the owners says, “20 years,” then you might be able to squeeze another ten years out of it before it needs to be replaced. Just be sure it is thoroughly inspected before committing.
You might luck out and find a home that has recently had the kitchen renovated. That could mean new appliances. That’s a good thing. However, if the current stove, fridge and dishwasher are showing their age, then this is something you will probably have to replace sooner rather than later. That might not be a deal breaker but it could also be an indication of other areas of the home that haven’t been “updated.”
Often overlooked but very important are handrails and not just for porches. You also have to make sure the rails leading up to the second floor is study. Wobbly handrails can be a safety risk.
Two issues to look out with wood structures: Pest infestations and water damage. Remember that small leak discussed above? If that leak has been going on for months or years, then it could have weakened a lot of the surrounding wood frame. Not good. You also have to pay attention to outdoor wood structures like porches and decks. Get underneath to see what’s going on.
Replacing an old stove isn’t a costly as replacing a water heater or furnace. Again, these are the kinds of items in a home that are on a time clock and the longer they’ve been around, the more likely they will soon be breaking down. Even if there hasn’t been any reported issues, a water heater that is 25-years-old or older is just going to be “pushing the limits” of usefulness.
Wiring Not Up to Code
An old home has a lot of charm and potential. It also might have a lot of old wiring. You can live in a home with old wiring but when it is time to sell, it has to be brought up to code. You won’t be able to get a mortgage without that. This could be a cost that you might have to incur but it could be a number that might be negotiated off the sale price. Just know that this won’t be a job you can put off.
Another very important questions to ask is “What are the pipes made of?” Galvanized steel might sound sturdy but those older pipes have been known to crack. When was the last time the sewer lines were inspected? When looking through the house, turn on every faucet. Any slow drain is a good indication of potential plumbing problems.
Suppose a home has all kinds of problems but you still think it is perfect? You can buy it but you’ll need to budget for those potential repairs. They can be prioritized but will eventually have to be taken care of and that’s on you!