While you’re touring a house that you’re thinking about buying, you’re probably looking at the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the living spaces. While those are all important, you want to look at a few elements outside of simple cosmetics too.
The attic might be a place of storage for some, but it should be primarily a place for insulation. The walls and windows of your home can be insulation completely, but it won’t really matter in the winter time. All your warm air from the furnace will leak right out of the attic. Proper attic insulation can save you 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills, so make sure you pop your head up in the attic on the house tour.
A lot of people don’t think about radon during a house tour, and that’s probably because a lot of people don’t know what it is. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is a result of that natural breakdown of certain elements like uranium. It’s also the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Nearly one in 15 U.S. homes is estimated to have radon levels at or above the EPA action level. Ask when the house was last tested for radon. If it hasn’t been, you can ask for a radon test with the home inspection.
While modular construction is not extremely common, it’s incredibly beneficial for those living in it. It often makes prices lower and reduces energy costs. In fact, modular construction reduces energy consumption during the building process by around 67%, and it reduces energy costs later on for the occupants too.
While you’re looking at the bottom of the house, you should be looking at the top too. The condition of the roof can really tell you a lot about the bones of the house. The typical lifespan on a roof is about 20 years, and it could cost between $12,000 to $25,000 to replace a roof. Ask how old the roof is; if it needs replacing, you might want to consider moving on to a different house.
The neighborhood is one of the first things you should notice. You might have a good idea of the area already, but pay attention to specifics while you’re driving up to the house. Look for things like traffic speeds, the condition of other homes in the area, and whether the surrounding amenities meet the needs of your family.
The HVAC includes the furnace, air conditioning, and ductwork. You can also throw in the hot water heater and other major appliances in the mix while you’re looking. The first thing you want to look for is rust. That’s a huge indicator that the property as not been well maintained. Your real estate agent should be able to give you service notes for large appliances also so you know when they’ve last been serviced and replaced.
Finally, you want to have a good look at the foundation. Look for cracks in the garage floor or basement, and see if you notice uneven floors when you walk on them. These usually indicate foundation issues, and they can be extremely expensive to fix. They can also point to less serious things, like slamming a door or normal settling, so make sure to ask about it during the inspection process.
Remember when you’re touring a house you’re thinking about buying to look for these things. You can also rely on your real estate agent. More than 78% of recent buyers found their real estate agents to be a very useful source of information. If you have questions about when the roof was last replaced, for example, your real estate agent should be able to find out for you.