Have you ever wondered what to look for after you decide to start researching your future home?
This one's on us, below you'll see the primary items that separate a good solid home from a money pit. Use this in the field on your smartphone or download a google doc, print it off and take it with you and fill in the space with the answers to the questions.
What kind of exterior siding is present? Vinyl, Aluminum, Brick, Wood?
Knowing what you're looking at means you also know what kind of value or future repair or replacement costs you'll be shelling out for. Remember buying a home is an investment otherwise, investors wouldn't make money on rentals.
"You make money when you buy, not when you sell"
Robert Kiyosaki "Rich Dad Poor Dad"
How old is the Furnace or Air Conditioner?
Depending on maintenance and make, you may see these units last up to 30 or more years, but they fail much sooner than that typically. I'd start to put it in your mind if it's 10 years or older, but that's just based on what we've see over the years. A home warranty is an excellent way to gain a year of peace of mind if you're on the fence.
What kind and what is the condition of the flooring?
This can make a significant impact depending on it's condition. There are many grades of carpet as there are with tile wood and laminate options. Tile is for the most part the priciest item of the mentioned materials. Keep in mind if you have dogs, wood is a softer surface and can scratch fairly easily depending on the tree it's derived from and it's natural hardness.
How does the roof look on your prospective home?
Is the roof a "3 Tab" shingle, Architectural shingle, Clay Tile, Rubber Membrane, Metal or something else? Each of these have their tells, we mostly deal with asphalt shingles here in the midwest. A major sign of coming to a place of recommended replacement is "curling". Look for the edge of the shingle for this or warping and you'll know the clock is ticking...
Windows, windows, windows...What are you seeing?
Windows are another major expense that won't stand out until you take a closer look. What do you see? Are they wood, vinyl, iron clad, fiberglass etc...? This is something to really watch in the older homes, although a window may be beautiful, you should at least be armed to know the ins and outs of what kind of energy escape is possible. Check the utilities and you'll be able to start drawing some conclusions.
Another sign is if you see moisture caught between the panes of glass. This means you have a broken seal and you've lost the gas in between the pains that filters certain UV rays from the son as well as possible drafting.
What kind of foundation does this home have?
The foundation should be your primary and chief concern. There are many types of foundations. Most of the type of foundation has to do with the age of the home. For example, most of the homes built before 1930 are limestone in our area. These are usually solid foundations, but if haven't been maintained, just due to sheer age you could witness a wall bowing or water seepage.
In the 1930's and 1940s the technology changed and the cement block was created. These are concrete filled cinder blocks. Pay special attention in these homes for bowing, seepage and cracked mortar joints. In Iowa the ground gets soft in the summer and hard in the summer, this contraction and expansion can be hard on the walls over the years.
1950's-present you'll most likely find a poured foundation which is the most protective however there are a few occasions where you'll see a major fracture. Look for anchors in the wall if you see this, you'll then know it's at least been addressed.
Electrical Box or Fuse Panel
Electrical boxes can be a decent expense of $1800+ depending on what kind of situation the current one is in. The older homes used to have "Twist Fuses" which should for the most part be safe, but are definitely worth a closer look. Today's power demands are pretty intense compared to those of yesteryear.
Ideally you want to see a breaker that is connected outside to the correct mast and is free of DIY wiring such as "double tapping" etc...