Worried you’ll waste too much time on the wrong one (hmm, sounds like a past dating experience) or rush into a less-than-stellar buying decision? The key to confident home shopping is being able to spot problems from the jump and bounce when necessary. By following these time-saving tips, first-time home buyers are sure to shop smart.
When it comes to houses, the roofline is EVERYTHING. Attractive houses have attractive rooflines. Dysfunctional houses have dysfunctional rooflines. Simple houses have simple rooflines. Learning to look at the roofline is a trick to help you understand the overall logic of the house. You often don’t have to get out of the car to learn a lot about a house by simply being aware of the roofline.
If you move into a brand-new home and do no updating for 20 years, you will end up with quite a lengthy list of accumulated home improvements (i.e. hot mess). A lot of the systems in our houses have useful service lives of roughly 15 to 20 years. These systems include types of roof coverings, exposed exterior decks, appliances, water heaters, heating and cooling equipment, finish flooring, paint and kitchens and bathrooms. Before you start Google mapping your way to a cute home, look to see when it was built. If it was built or remodeled extensively roughly 20 years ago, expect that the house may be due for some system updates.
Let’s compare houses to cars for a sec: Most of us want the maintenance associated with the Honda, but jones for the classic Jaguar. The same is true for houses. Before you even start your search, get real about repair work. Expensive houses tend to come with complicated systems and designs that can dramatically increase maintenance costs. Simple houses are not as flashy, which equals lower maintenance costs. Complicated deigns to watch for include rooftop decks, houses with lots of exposure to the weather, houses with stucco siding that is exposed to the weather, houses with complicated rooflines and houses with a lot of built-in systems like spas, pools and fancy kitchens and bathrooms.
Houses in any given region reflect the economy in which they were built. There’s a good chance that that old Victorian home in New England was built by some baller who prospered during the boom years of whaling, textiles and shipping. The construction is going to reflect the owner’s wealth: quality building materials, insane architectural details, etc. On the flip side, cabin-like summer homes will likely reflect owners’ humble beginnings. If you research the history of the community where you are looking to buy, you will be better able to spot home styles and building trends by era and zero in on a style that works best for you and your budget. For example, you may love 1950s and 1960s houses in your area because they are frequently built from solid old-growth lumber and have simple rooflines and roof overhangs that protect the house from sun, wind and rain.