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5 critical things every new homeowner should do

By Guest Author | July 3, 2015

Few days can compare to the pure adrenaline thrill of buying your first home. But when you're out searching for your dream home, it's important to keep in mind realistic future expenditures such as repairs and upgrades. Every perfect home has a few unexpected expenses lying in wait, and discovering the flaws and blemishes early on can save you a world of problems years down the road.


Before signing the dotted line, here are five critically important things to know while evaluating your new home:

Get Your Hands on the Drainage Diagram

Your parents never told you this, but it is absolutely critical to know the exact drainage layout of any house. In many jurisdictions this vital document is called a sewage service diagram, but regardless of the title, it is an official document that can be found filed with the state's water board. Drainage diagrams describe and list where every single pipe is located on the property, an important piece of information to acquire for prospective home buyers. Drainage diagrams will show you if the home is still using old style clap pipes, or when and if any repairs have been made to the plumbing and sewage system. Even if old clay pipes have resisted for decades, they will eventually need to be upgraded, and the situation can be far worse if add-ons like decks and home extensions have been built above those pipes.

Plumbing Wisdom

Many budget-conscious home buyers know that an older home in need of some repairs and tender loving care might provide better long-term value. One of the first orders of business is to do a full checkup and analysis on the plumbing, both inside the home and any outdoor connections. Water pressure should be measured and assessed at all of the taps. Ask and obtain information about the water heater, including its age and date of installation, and find out which of your pipes are properly insulated. New, modern system use high-pressure valves to improve water flow and prevent leaks and water bursts. A thorough inspection of the plumbing system can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in avoiding surprise future repairs.

A House of Cards

It goes without saying that a home is only as strong as its foundational walls. While it is normal to discover small, hairline cracks in older walls, larger splits and gaps can indicate structural problems. Experts recommend paying strict attention to interior doors that no longer correctly latch and cracks that intersect with the ceiling These types of structural problems may indicate that the home is in serious risk of partial or total collapse. By hiring an experienced and bonded surveyor, prospective home owners can gain peace of mind. While professional house surveyors charge professional fees, identifying and understanding serious issues in a home beforehand can provide critical information and potentially save buyers thousands of dollars in repair fees.

Snuggle Up

In both hot and cold climates, good insulation is a must. The industry rates insulation by its R value, referring to its resistance to conducting heat, meaning that a higher R-value will insulate better than a material with a low R-value. Be sure to do a full analysis of any prospective home and learn the R-value of all installed insulation. It is unlikely that homes in warm climates will need insulation rated higher than R30 but prospective homeowners thinking of living in colder, four-season climates should choose an insulation value of R38 or greater.

The Fiddler on the Roof

Even though it might be cramped and dusty, it's worth taking the time to get up in the attic and look around for signs of damage. Moisture, mold or other indicators of water damage should raise a red flag about the condition of the roof. But even if the attic looks toasty and dry, you must remember that some roofing materials need to be repainted every few years. Dark roofing materials can lead to excessive heat retention in warmer climates, and some homeowners may choose to replace or repaint the roof with lighter-colored materials to save on cooling costs.

Home Sweet Home

Soon, those keys will be dangling in your hand and you'll be stepping over the doorstep of your new home. Make sure you take the time to properly survey the property and thus avoid unexpected large repair costs in the future as you enjoy your new home.

About the author: This article was provided by Philip Piletic

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