6 Critical Things to Look at When Viewing Homes

Posted by Jared Chamberlain

6_Critical_Things_to_Look_at_When_Viewing_HomesWhen you are looking at homes, there are a few things that you want to pay attention to.

We know from our own experience that it can be exciting when looking at your next home for you and your family. Sometimes the focus can be on the size of rooms, the flow of the spaces, what the colours of cabinets look like and so on.

These are important; however, there are 6 things that you need to look at if you are in a home and think that this home could be the next one.

We invited Matt and Laura from Braemyn Homes to talk about the six things you should check when looking for new homes and the costs associated with fixing or upgrading them.

1. Furnaces

The first thing that you need to check is the furnace. Many think that furnace repair costs as high as $25,000, but it shouldn't be.

Most furnaces have a service schedule and an install date by code. It has a sticker with the details about the last inspection.

You will get an idea of what you're dealing with just by looking at the notes on the furnace.

If the last inspection was more than 15 to 20 years, then you might have to exchange a part or change things a bit.

The cost of a brand new furnace is typically around $5,000 to 6,000. It depends on the labour and how far pipes need to run.

If you want to add air conditioning, prices are based on the square footage of your home. A standard tone type unit is about $4,000 or $4,500, including installation.

Pro tip - if you're going to add air conditioning to a house with two furnaces, add it to the smaller room upstairs. Then at night, you can keep that cool.

Usually, during the day, you'll need to turn cool your whole house so you can spend less on an air conditioner.

2. Roof

When looking at the roof, check if the shingles are curling. Unlaminated and curled shingles mean you're in the last years of your roof. If you've got moss growing, then you're done.

A home inspector can give you a fair assessment as he looks into the details to make sure those are correct.

The replacement value for a thousand-square-foot house is about $6,000. Larger areas such as 1500-square-foot will be about $10,000.

In Alberta, an asphalt roof is predominantly the roof of choice. We often have dry roofs because we rarely have heavy rain, and we get a lot of sunlight.

If you get shingle and do it right, it can last for about 25 years.

When you are looking at a house during winter, you can have snow-covered roofs. You can't see anything at all. In this case, look up in the ceilings and see if there’s any stain.

3. The exterior of the house

There are many types of home exteriors like stucco, vinyl, old cedar, stone, HardiePlank and many more.

You'll get a good understanding of the maintenance of the exterior by knowing how often it is painted.

Also, check how often the gutters are cleaned out. This assessment gives you a perfect idea of what the exterior condition.

If you're into a stucco house, look for water spots. If you see any water spots or dark marks below a window corner, that means water has come behind, and it's sitting.

During the '70s and '80s, there were pretty good, almost concrete-based stucco. It was very durable, and the homes breathe. Today people are just painting them to update, and they're doing a good job.

When it went into the '90s, the homes got tighter in how they breathe. Many details on the exterior, like reverse flashing, end dams on flashings and stuff, were not yet practiced.

It doesn't matter if you have a new house or a resale home; make sure that stuff is there and working.

Doing bungalows with Hardie and soffit, and everything costs around $28,000-$30,000. It could go up depending on the material and other specifications. Properties sitting on a 4,000-square-foot can be north of $100,000 to do.

If you're sitting in a typical two-story and you need to repaint the stucco, you could probably get away with $10,000 or $15,000.

But if you're going to redo the stucco or change it with something like HardiePlank, you're probably sitting at $40,000-$45,000.

4. Windows

Windows can be wonderful, but they can be the biggest pain in your butt as well.

Some of the biggest problems with windows are when the sill goes, and it leaks. They rot the base out of the window. In the winter, they become horrible. They grow frost and let the fog inside.

If the window isn't right, it is best to replace it. People get into tape and repainting and things like that, which may help, but it won’t fix the issue.

When it comes to window replacement, you can check out Earls, which is a local company in the city. They do good quality vinyl windows primarily, but they also do metal-clad exterior with wood interior. They also have Tesoro doors that fold open. They have all these types of features.

Windows could be anything from aluminum sliders, old '70s or older vinyl. The mid-'90s vinyl windows may start to crack or leak by now. Just because it's a vinyl doesn't mean that it's okay.

The biggest thing is the casing around. If it's wood and it just needs to be painted, that's okay. But if it looks gross, there's a problem.

The budget for replacing a window with supreme type, vinyl, middle of the road window is more or less $1,000.

5. Grading

First, you have to do a general walk around and see the ground sloping towards the house. You want to have water within the proximity of your home shedding to your property points. That's just always the rule of thumb.

Next, go into the basement. Some basements are very neatly gutted and have new frost walls. That means that there was water, and they needed to remediate that and did it correctly.

Another thing is parging, the cosmetic coat you have on the foundation wall. Parging has a lifespan. It's coated on concrete-to-concrete. Due to weather, the snowpack, and shovels, it will breakdown over time.

6. PVC Piping

The last thing is the gray PVC piping. We've had some clients who don't care. We've had clients who will not buy a house with it.

Fundamentally, the gray pipe does not have the same stress and threshold for hot/cold pressure, unlike the new PEX pipe Opti-Code.

The beautiful thing about building and homes is that people are trying to improve, and products are improving every year.

The worst-case scenario is when the fittings break. You'll know if it is failing when there's water in your roof, and you'll call a plumber. He will cut a hole, and he will fix that.

The costs of those fixes are super tough. Replacing plumbing in a whole house is a big job, especially if everything's finished, and it's a 10-year-old house.

If you have questions or thoughts about things that you should look for when viewing homes that we didn't answer, you can reach out to us at info@chamberlaingroup.ca.

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