You may have found the perfect fixer-upper home but you ought to make sure it won’t suck you into a never-ending repair cycle before you purchase it. No matter how good the home looks, you never want to waste your money on a hopeless cause because by the time you come to this realization you will be too deep.
Mold in hidden areas, foundation damage, faulty or worn-out wiring are some of the not-so-obvious issues with older homes that can turn out to be a waste of money and effort. Before you purchase a home make sure the seller makes repairs on any of these items before closing. However, being aware of the home improvement projects that are money pits will save you a lot, They include:
1) A damaged foundation
No matter how you look at it, there is no salvaging a damaged foundation. You can repair it, but it will keep on cracking which means it will be a never-ending cycle of repairs. Foundation cracks that are more than 1/4 inch wide are a red flag, especially if they are at a 45-degree angle to the wall. You can easily tell a house with a damaged foundation from a distance because it will be bulging or leaning at a weird angle.
Exteriors doors or windows that stick are also another sign that the foundation is not intact. Also, if you are buying the house during the rainy season, have a home inspector check it after it has rained to determine whether there is rainwater buildup around the foundation. If this is the case, you can expect leaks later on and you shouldn’t willingly sign up for that.
2) Deteriorating roof
A classic example of a home improvement money pit is a bad roof. Replacing a worn-out roof will set you back approximately $5,000 or even more. The cost can be as high as $20,000 if you opt for high-quality materials. However, it is not just the roof you need to worry about in this case.
A damaged roof will cause water leaks that lead to the growth of mold and also rot. These conditions will weaken the house’s wooden frames and require you to spend more on renovations. If some of the gutters are missing or there are curled shingles ensure you have checked for signs of water damage on the attic. The only solution, in this case, would be a complete replacement of the roof. Consider the cost, however, especially if there is water damage as well because the total cost of this project could be costlier than buying a new house.
3) Outdated plumbing or electrical system
It costs a lot of money and time to replace outdated wiring or plumbing system. Galvanized steel pipes become clogged easily, especially when there is a high sedimentation rate. This results in a reduction of water pressure. Cleaning these pipes is an option but it will be an ongoing task. It’s better to choose homes with a copper plumbing system.
Aluminum wiring was popular between 1965 and 1973 and any house built back then should be checked for such. They are a fire hazard which means they ought to be replaced. This cost falls on you if you choose such a house unknowingly. You should also check for tube wiring and knobs since they signify an outdated electrical system. Modern houses have circuit breakers instead of fuse boxes.
The electrical panel capacity should be between 150-200 amps and 220-volt service. If this is not the case, electronics and appliances won’t run no matter how good the house looks, and a complete overhaul of the electrical system will be necessary. It is too much hassle to sign up for hence the need to be cautious about this.
4) A messy basement
Getting a house with a basement is a cause for celebration, especially if you are thinking of turning it into an extra bedroom or bathroom. However, if it is messy you should be wary of buying the house. Mold patches in the basement, water stains, water damage, pooled water, or even cracks in the walls should tell you trying to renovate such a basement will turn out to be a hopeless struggle. If the basement floor has cracks and heaving wider than a quarter-inch then you should suspect foundation damage.
Also, don’t buy a house with exposed pipes and wires in the basement. They should be adequately secured and insulated. Honeycombed concrete is a sign of water-damage or bad workmanship during the construction process. This makes the floor weaker which affects the entire house. The presence of efflorescence(powdery white coating) on the basement floor signifies moisture issues. A properly remodeled basement can increase the home value and give you more space but it will never be the case if the basement is beyond salvaging. Don’t sign up for a home improvement money pit knowingly.
5) A confusing floorplan
If you have a particular floorplan in mind, make sure it can be realized easily and without spending too much money on it before you embark on the project. It is difficult to change the floor plan which means you have to think about how realistic what you want is based on the floorplan your house has. Floorplan changes involve knocking off the load-bearing walls which can put the integrity of the whole structure in jeopardy. It is also a labor-intensive job. Demolishing the old walls requires reinforcement of the foundation to keep the house intact, and it may also necessitate the building of new walls.
6) Pests deep in the structure
Pests can range from big ones like rodents to small ones like wood-boring insects. It is even worse if you can’t see but hear them deep in the wooden structures. If the affected structures are the ones holding the building together then there is no way around that but to tear the house down. You don’t want your home improvement to turn into a new-building project because you will spend thousands of dollars on that or even more. For pests that don’t burrow into the walls, you can try but if you suspect that it will be a money pit project then you shouldn’t get started.
7) A funky smelling house
Old houses tend to have a particularly unpleasant odor but this isn’t always a result of age. A strong sewage smell can signify a problem with the septic tank or the sewer line. If there is a strong pet urine odor you may be signing up for a home with rot on the floor. A musty smell is present in a moldy environment. If the wood is rotting around the doors and windows or the drywall is stained you should suspect mold growth. Mold is hard to overcome because it keeps coming back no matter what you do hence wasting a lot of money.
Fixer-upper homes are great especially if they don’t require too much work and you got them at a great price. However, they can turn into a costly nightmare hence the need to be sure of what you are getting into. Before you buy any house or embark on home improvements projects in your home make sure the results you are looking for are achievable and long-lasting.