Buying a home is an exciting time in your life. It’s a monumental occasion, and you should celebrate and enjoy every moment of the experience. But at the same time, there are a lot of new stresses you’ll discover. From trying to find the right space, to bidding and financing, the whole experience is a roller-coaster ride. Once you gain possession of the property, you’re about to start on a whole new adventure as a homeowner.
Homeownership is accompanied by a new world of stresses and anxieties. As soon as you move in, you’ll no doubt discover things that aren’t working right or aren’t as you anticipated. It’s a learning experience as you try to tackle the issues, sometimes an expensive experience at that.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues you might encounter and what you can do about them.
But first, the value of a property inspection
Before we dive into details, it’s worth noting the importance and value of a property inspection. In this competitive real estate market, it’s not always possible to get a property inspection performed before you buy a home. If you’re unable to, it’s still worth doing after the fact as a good inspection can draw attention to issues that need immediate attention, issues that you might not have noticed before.
The cost of an inspection will depend on the size of your property. While this may seem like an unnecessary expense at the time, it can help save you money in the long run.
Ten common issues
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, here are the ten most common issues reported by inspectors:
- Poor drainage/surface grading can lead to water infiltrating basements and crawlspaces.
- Incorrect electrical work that can include insufficient protection against overload, dangerous wiring, and not enough service to the house.
- Damage to the roof, such as damaged and old shingles that can lead to leaky roofs.
- Heating system issues like blocked chimneys, damaged equipment, and broken controls.
- Poor home maintenance, which is a broad area, but includes amateur wiring, poor plumbing, damage to the masonry, etc.
- Structural problems like windows and doors, the foundation, and joists that can all suffer significant damage.
- Plumbing fixtures not working properly, poor waste lines, and old and broken piping that can all lead to major problems.
- Exterior issues like poor weather-stripping and caulking, or old windows and doors, that can all affect the integrity of a home.
- Bad ventilation that may result in issues such as excessive moisture, which can rot or damage materials throughout the home.
- Miscellaneous things, usually cosmetic, that are identified by home inspectors.
The site also highlights how, in four of the top ten issues reported, water infiltration was a factor. For this reason, it’s important to pay particular attention to signs of water damage and leaks throughout your house. Homes are a lot of work, and it’s easy to cut corners on things like clearing pipes and maintaining the seals around windows.
Home renos and permits
Wherever you live, each province and municipality has their own set of rules for what permits you require when performing home renovations. In Ontario, for example, the government requires you have a building permit when you do one of the following:
- Construct or place a building on your property that is over 10 square metres in area. This applies to motor homes, garden sheds, and other structures.
- Add to your residence, renovate, or make repairs.
- Change what your building is used for.
- Construct or dig up a foundation.
- Build a seasonal building.
- Perform work on the on-site sewage system, including installation, extension, repairs, and alteration.
Looking at this, it all feels a little broad, and that if you are to do any kind of work on your home you’ll need a permit. This isn’t the case. Each municipality has specific guidelines for when you require a permit. Continuing with the example of Ontario, the city of Toronto provides detailed information on their website of when you do and do not require a permit.
To be safe, make sure you contact your municipality before planning renovations.
Pro tip: Building permits take time to be reviewed and issued, so start early if you’re planning on renovations. There are also fees associated with permits, so be sure to account for this in your budget.
Becoming a homeowner is exciting and should be celebrated. But it’s also a big responsibility, and there are a lot of things to juggle when you purchase a space. Even with a home inspection, you will undoubtedly encounter unexpected issues with your home as you start to live in it. Making sure you’re aware of any potential issues and keeping on top of your home maintenance will take you a long way!
James Battiston is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television Program, and holds an honours BA in Cinema Studies from the University Of Toronto. James has written for shows as varied as CBC’s Shoot The Messenger and The Border, to the National Geographic Program Mayday and Fuzzy Tales for TVO Kids.