You’re out shopping for a new home, or perhaps an investment property and you finally find “the one” – here are some things you may want to check in order to avoid buying a money pit. These points are just meant to be used as guidelines, always enlist a professional for your home inspection.
1. The Roof
Shingles will always be a cheaper and a less environmentally friendly way of covering up the roof; however you don’t want to buy a home and then have to spend another fortune putting on a new roof. So consider this – today the most common type of roofing shingle is the fiberglass shingle. Fiberglass shingles are composed of a woven fiberglass mat that is covered in a coating of asphalt and sprinkled with ceramic granules to protect the asphalt from UV rays. Thanks to our Canadian climate, the granules soon will come off and litter your eaves troughs, exposing the asphalt to the sun. This causes the shingle to start curling and cracking, creating the possibility for leaks and the need to reroof – again.
Since most houses in the same area get their roof replaced around the same time, take a look at the other homes in the area. If they have newer roofs and yours looks older, that means that most likely it will be time to replace the roof. Negotiate the cost of a new roof into the selling price of the home and consider getting a permanent metal roof. Metal roofs will last a lifetime, are more environmentally friendly and often have a much better warranty. To find out how much a metal roof will cost you, click here.
2. Windows and Doors
With years of opening and closing, windows and doors definitely wear out. Inspect them to find out if you will need to replace them or not. If you have a hard time opening or closing them, that is a sure sign it’s time for new ones. This is especially true for wooden windows; after being exposed to moisture and the elements for decades, they become warped.
This can allow air to pass through the loose sashes and the corners of the frame. Check all around the frame and the sashes for air flow. Make sure to also check for any condensation within the window itself, between the glass panes. This indicates that there is a loose seal which allows moisture to enter the window – thus making the window ineffective at creating a barrier to cold air.
3. Hot Water Heater Tank
If you live in Ontario, chances are it’s a rental – you’re all set. If it needs to be replaced or serviced, that’s just a phone call away. If you own the unit, it will likely last around 10 to 15 years with good maintenance. Check the water tank for any stickers that indicate maintenance has been recently completed on the tank. Proper maintenance can increase the life of the tank by up to 5 years. By draining the tank every now and then it helps eliminate hard water buildups at the bottom, gets rid of any sand that may have made its way in and in return, increases the life of the tank.
Your basic gas furnace will run for about 20 years, maybe even 25-30 years if it was properly maintained. Check the stickers or tags here too, this will let you know when it was last serviced or cleaned, if ever. A furnace is made of metal, and metal that is heated and cooled over and over will contract and expand. With many years of expansion and contraction, cracks in the steel are possible. This is very important as cracks within the unit can lead to gas leaks, like carbon monoxide. This can be very dangerous and that’s why proper maintenance is crucial. Always make sure to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home!
If the home you’re looking at has an older furnace upwards of 20 years, you should definitely negotiate a change in the price of the home so that you can purchase a new one. Keep in mind that a newer more efficient furnace will also help lower your heating bill.
5. Electrical Wiring
Most homes built the after the 1980’s will have copper wiring, be sure to check the year the house was built and verify if it has aluminum or copper wiring. Aluminum wiring was used between the 1950’s and 1970’s because the price of copper was so high. This type of wiring can begin to fail over time due to expansion and contraction as well as oxidization, which can result in overheating of the wire.
If you decide to go ahead with the purchase of a home that doesn’t have copper wiring (either has aluminum or knob and tube),keep in mind the cost of rewiring can be upwards of $10,000 depending on the home. In most cases the drywall will have to be removed and replaced.
The most common types of piping used in homes today are copper, PVC, ABS and CPVC. However prior to the 1960’s cast iron waste water pipes were used, although they can last up to 100 years, the problem is that they begin to rust from the inside out. This means that flakes of rust will eventually break loose and clog the pipe. Without proper maintenance, these pipes will rot out and collapse. Prior to the 1980’s lead piping was used in homes throughout North America. Not only was this not the best option for drinking water, it ultimately would rot out just like the cast iron pipes and need to be replaced. Check what kind of piping your home has, if you have to replace them – negotiate that into the sale price of the home. If the home is over 60 years old, chances are you will be replacing piping.