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Tips for house hunting

| May 12, 2017

COSHOCTON – Searching for a new home can be an intimidating and time-consuming task. You are full of dreams of a new home, but there are so many things to think about that you can feel overwhelmed. Jon Cotterman, owner of Cotterman Inspections, offers several tips on things you need to check when you go looking for a new home.

The location of the home is one of the first things you should consider when looking at a house. Consider the school district and how close you are to your work and stores. Once you have found a home in a great location, be sure to check these items on the house.

  • This is especially important if the house is on a hill. Look over the foundation and check for cracks in the basement walls. You also need to make sure all of the walls are straight and there is no buckling.
  • Water Heater. Check the age of the water heater. They tend to last 10-15 years. You also need to see how far the water heater is from the bathroom. The farther it is away, the longer you will have to wait for hot water and the more energy you will use to heat your water as you bathe.
  • Water Pressure. When you are in the kitchen, turn on the faucet and then go flush the toilet. If the flow of water slows down, the home does not have good water pressure. This means you may not be able to wash dishes or do laundry easily when someone is taking a shower. Iron pipes will gradually corrode and close in, reducing water pressure.
  • Electrical System. While a detailed electrical system inspection should be done by a home inspector, you can look to see if the house has fuses or a breaker box. Updated homes have breaker boxes. It is possible, though, for a home to have a breaker box and still have old wiring. A simple tester that can be purchased for around $5 will tell you if the outlets are properly grounded or if the outlets were updated without using new wiring. The outlets need to be grounded or the surge protectors won’t do as they are supposed to and you could lose appliances when a surge does occur.
  • Ask the homeowner when the roof was replaced. You should see shingles that are lying flat and not bubbling. Roofs usually last about 25 years.
  • Again, ask the homeowner how old the furnace is. Furnaces that have plastic pipe are high efficiency units. You can also check the age of the furnace by writing the serial number down and checking the manufacturer’s website.
  • Age of Appliances.
  • Make sure the bathrooms are vented to the outside to allow moisture to leave the house.
  • Check the attic for insulation. It is recommended that attics have 12 – 18” of insulation because most of your heat in the winter escapes through the roof and in the summer, heat will seep into your home the same way.
  • Are they replacement windows? Do they open and close properly? Single pane windows are not energy efficient at all. If the windows are dual pane, check for condensation between the panes as this indicates the window has lost its seal. (This will only be apparent on extremely hot or cold days when the temperature of the house is drastically different than outside.)
  • Do they close tightly and open without rubbing on the floor? Do they have weather stripping? Do they have dead bolts?
  • Are the floors even? Are they vinyl, tile or carpet? While this isn’t a safety issue, you need to think about the cost of replacing the floors if you don’t like the type of floor installed.
  • Gutters/downspouts. When you are walking around outside, make sure there are gutters and downspouts on the house. Also check that the yard slopes away from the house as water is a house’s worst enemy.

Cotterman recommends that buyers request home inspections before they put an offer on any house. The average cost in our area is $250 and you will have a better understanding of exactly what you are purchasing. The information from an inspection can be used when negotiating the purchase price of the house or it may convince you to keep searching.

An inspection protects the buyer, seller and realtor. Everyone has the same information on which to base decisions. When you get the inspector’s report, items of immediate concern will be highlighted, such as electrical issues. The report will also list things you need to think about fixing in the future. All of this can help you decide whether you want to tackle fixing up the house or whether another home might be a better option for you.

Cotterman offered one last piece of advice. “Don’t be so ‘wowed’ by a house that you forget to have an inspection done. You may regret it soon.”

Category: People & Places

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