When purchasing an old home with the intent of saving money, you must be aware of
several potential hidden costs. Many items, if left unchecked, can lead to huge
unexpected costs after you have closed a sale. Once you have located a potential house
for purchase, be sure to check its location, foundation, crawl space, roof, exterior, garage,
electric, heading, plumbing, kitchen, baths, living areas, bedrooms and attic.
As home’s location is an important point to note for resale value. Look at the
neighbourhood. Items that tend to lower a property’s value are messy neighbours or
nearby businesses. Look for access to stores and recreation areas to increase a property’s
value. Trees, fences, and patios are also a plus.
Sand away from the house and check that it is square and straight. Look at the roof line
and walls for sagging, settling and leaning. These problems could be caused from a bad
foundation or poor drainage or a poorly built house.
One problem you man encounter with a foundation is cracks. Straight cracks are
common and can be repaired easily. V’d cracks are usually an indication of a very costly
problem caused because cement was not poured properly. A second problem with
foundations is termites. Termite extermination is costly, and damage can be costly to
With poor drainage, especially on hillside housed, moisture penetrates the soil and makes
it slippery – actually making the house slide. To check for pooper drainage, examine the
tile around the basement exterior and interior for cracks, and verify all sump pumps work
properly. Improper drainage is a costly problem to fix.
Crawl spaces should be well vented to prevent moisture buildup and dry rot of wood.
The crawl space foundation should be checked for cracks.
The Home Buyers’ Club meeting will be held this month on Saturday, August 26 in the
Region Room at Cary’s Steak House in Harris. Dinner will be served at 6:00 p.m.; the
meeting will begin a 7:00 p.m. and our presentation will begin at 8:00 p.m. Our guest
speaker, Mary Evans, will address contracts: What You Should Know Before Signing a
On Sunday, September 3, The Convention Center in Elmwood is hosting a Gardeners
Show from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Hundreds of retailers will have exhibits. Man experts
will be on hand to answer consumer questions. In the past, the Gardeners Show has
proved to be an extremely worthwhile event for our members.
The Home Buyer’s Club second Annual Picnic on Saturday, August 19 at Hughes Park in
Romeoville. It is sure to be a fun-filled event for all family members. Bring your
swimsuit and a dish to pass. See you at 1:00 p.m.!
You may encounter four types of roofs on a house: wood, shake, wood shingles, asphalt
shingles or fiberglass shingles. The life expectancy of wood roofs is 20-25 years, asphalt
is 15 years, and fiberglass is 15020 years. Be sure to ask the current homeowner how
many layers of shingles are on the roof. If there is one, the roof is probably the same age
as the house. To determine the remaining life of the shingles, simply subtract the age of
the house from the life expectancy of the shingles. If the owner doesn’t know or you are
not convinced, you can contact the city or county for the permit issued on the house.
Roofs also need proper drainage through gutters and down spouts. Be sure the water runs
away from the house and not into the foundation. All types of gutters should be checked
for leaky joints. Aluminum gutters are usually the best type. Wood gutters have to be
oiled every year. Steel galvanized gutters should also be checked for rust.
Four basic home exteriors are paint, brick, stone, and stucco. If the house is painted, look
for peeling, checking, and chalking. Peeling is when the paint has lifted from the wall
(like orange peels). Peeling is usually caused from old paint or poor insulation. If the
paint is older than seven years, peeling is natural. When a house is poorly insulated, heat
escapes moisture develops. The moisture saturates the wood while trying to escape. In
these cases, the house has to be re-insulated by either removing the outside or inside
walls to make the paint stick.
Painted houses must also be looked at for checking and chalking. Checking is when the
paint has little cracks on its surface with a rough-looking finish. Checking is caused by
insufficient drying time between coats or poor-quality paint. To correct this problem you
have to remove the paint by stripping or sandblasting it and then re-paint.
Chalking is when the paint surface is dull and powdery. It is caused by oil-based paints.
To correct this problem, simply wash the wall surface. Be aware though, that each time
the surface is washed, the paint becomes thinner.
If a house has brick siding, check if it is a solid brick wall or a veneer brick. Solid brick
walls usually have a header brace every third or fourth row with full bricks in the wall. A
header brace is full bricks laid the opposite direction. Veneer brick, the most common
today, is an outside layer of brick attached to an existing studded wall, giving the
appearance of an all-brick home. Although these homes look fine, look for these side
effects; moisture in the wood, termites, and poor insulation.
Stone houses are a lot like veneer brick houses in their construction and problems. The
majority difference is stone houses are much more expensive because of construction
Houses with a stucco exterior attract a lot of moisture. Stucco is mortar attached to a
screening. The screening is then attached to an existing wood wall. The moisture
produces dry rotting of the wood wall. Stucco is also prone to cracks. Avoid stucco, if
Be sure to check all exterior windows. They should be painted with no signs of rotting.
Older homes should have proper storm windows, and newer homes should have clear
This concludes Part 1 of Buying Old Homes: Tips and Tricks.