The Big Search
Now it’s time to begin your informed search for that “right” home. You have gathered all the information you need to make a rational decision rather than an emotional one, but it may not be easy! You, like everyone else, will probably want what you can’t afford. Try not to become discouraged. Every homeowner started somewhere and it is most likely that there is a place for you!
What Should You Look For?
After you have found a home, don’t be shy! You are about to invest a lot of money and you should investigate each home thoroughly. Pay particular attention to the following:
- What size and shape is the lot? Is it fully serviced with sewage, water, gas, and electrical lines?
- How many square feet of living space is there? How many rooms?
- Condition and age of the roof: Are there any leaks or recent repairs? If only part of the roof was repaired, will the rest cause trouble?
- Are there proper roof gutters and adequate downspouts which are properly connected to storm drains?
- Are the interior walls and ceilings solid? drywall or plaster? Is there any evidence of leaks or cracks?
- Are floors firm and level? What about the condition of the floor boards? and supports? Does the ceiling sag?
- Is there evidence of termites or dry rot?
- What types of floors are beneath the carpeting?
- Are stairs and door frames level and well joined? Is the natural lighting to your liking?
- Which way does the front face—north, south, east or west?
- Are the room sizes adequate for your family’s needs? Is the layout compatible with your habits?
- Is the kitchen suitable? Are there enough outlets and space for appliances? What about cabinets?
- Are storage areas and closet space adequate?
- Does it look like renovation work has been done? If so, are there copies of building, electrical and gas permits for this work? Plumbing work is covered by a building permit; however gas and electric work require separate permits.
- What is the condition of the electrical wiring? Are there cables visible in the basement or close to the electrical panel that are not fastened at regular intervals to the floor joists or walls? If so, that may be an indication that work was done on the electrical system without a permit.
- Is there a hot tub or swimming pool installed? If so, check for evidence that there are electrical permits for these installations—it is very important for you and your family’s safety that proper grounding of the electric systems for these devices is in place.
- Has a gas fireplace insert been added at some stage? Is there a gas permit for this installation? Proper clearances from combustibles for these installations are critical and evidence that a permit was taken out for this work is confirmation that the work was done by a licensed contractor and/or inspected by a qualified person.
- What about satisfactory ventilating equipment? Are there exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms?
- What type of heating system is it (forced air, gravity, etc.)? What kind of fuel is used? Is there a heat pump?
- Is there sufficient electrical wiring? Is there enough power for your electrical equipment? Are there adequate outlets in the home? Has the fuse box been updated?
- Can the wall space be utilized to suit your needs? Check the locations of doors and windows.
- Drainage—is the home well drained and has landscaping been done to prevent erosion?
- What is the condition of the basement and foundation? You should check the walls and floors. Is the floor dry?
- Are there hookups for a washer and dryer?
- What about the attic or crawl space? Is there evidence of leaks? Dry rot? Is there proper ventilation and insulation? Does the insulation meet current specifications?
- Are there severe cracks in or excessive or uneven settlement of the foundation?
- How large is the garage? Is the driveway adequate? Is there cracking or lifting and is drainage satisfactory?
- What is the condition of caulking on windows and doors? What kind of storm windows are there and what condition are they in? Do windows and doors open and close easily?
Each home is unique. Keep some notes to enable you to remember the details later!