What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What To Look For When Buying a House

By default with our house up for sale we are house hunting.  When house hunting there a a wide range of features that should be overlooked.  Essentially these are features you can easily change or if it is something tangible like appliances you could always try asking for them in the offer.  This is all part of the dickering process however there are some things we look for in a house that factor into whether or not we consider it further:

  • location - Location is critical. A house out in the country is lovely and because you are a distance from conveniences like fast food restaurants.  Rural living saves a considerable amount of money.  However, if you have school aged children a house in the country can mean you spend a lot of time driving them to various activities.  Urban living may give the possibility of downsizing from two vehicles to one, using public trasit, and walking or biking to work and various activities.
  • good solid construction - This is a must!  If the house is not solid pass it by. 
  • any signs of water damage - A very small amount of water can cause a lot of structural damage.  Water damage can also lead to insect damage from carpenter ants or simple insect infestation.  Some signs of water damage include: water marks, indicator insects (eg. centipedes, pill bugs, earwigs, etc), musty smells, sagging pavement, mold on windows frames or walls, moss/mildew on siding or roof or sink holes.  If you notice any of these signs get a home inspection!
  • pets - Any signs of pets is cause for concern.  Sorry but a vast majority of people are sensitive or allergic to pet dander.  If a pet(s) are in the house then carpet and duct work cleaning will be a must.  This will increase the price by about $500 if not a bit more.  If this is a I love it house then fine but if it is iffy, walk on by.  Keep in mind that allergy/asthma medications can cost upwards of $1.000 per year if more so that does add to the overall cost of home ownership.
  • energy efficiency - This is likely the number one feature to look for is any home you are considering buying.  A well insulated and sealed home is a better investment
  • eco-friendly - The house should have a lot of eco-friendly choices to prevent later problems.  Avoid homes with carpeting, paneling, press board and any other construction product that causes off gassing or later health problems.
  • features you can work with - If something regardless of how little it is rubs you the wrong way when your look at the house I will guarantee you that flaw will seriously become a major thorn if you buy the house.  Look for features you can work with and don't gloss over how much work it could take to use that feature.  Guaranteed if you figure fixing that feature will cost $1,000 it will cost you $3,000 and likely take at least double the time.
  • orientation - The way a house is oriented on the property can affect lighting, heating and cooling.  Orientation will determine if you can use solar as well something to consider with the rising prices of electricity.
  • hide problem materials - Certain products have a good reputation for hiding problems.  They are quick, inexpensive fixes that cover up an existing problem.  These include sheet panelling, tub surround, acoustical ceiling tile, drop ceilings, paintable textured wallpaper, carpeting, and a coat of fresh paint.  Not all of the problems covered are major and in some cases it could be just what the current owner likes but these are always cause for concern.
  • expandability - We've owned 7 houses now with currently owning houses 6 and 7.  One of the things we always look for in a home is garden space and the potential to put in a pool.  We put in pools at 2 of our houses so we know what is involved and since the kids are grown the chances of us putting in a pool is slim but that is one of our criteria.  The backyard must be big enough to put in a pool if we ever want one.  More importantly there must be room for the type of raised bed gardening and the possibility of chickens.   Room inside to add an extra bathroom if there is only one or bedroom/guestroom is another must.
  • a good neighbour fence - Good fences make for good neighbours especially in urban settings.  Nothing can destroy neighbour relations faster than a lot line dispute that quite often occurs when one neighbour wants to errect a fence.  If a fence is already there the issue of fencing becomes non-existent.  If the fence is only chain link which solves issues of wandering pets and children but not privacy, it doesn't take much to establish a living privacy fence around the perimeter
Garden Gnome