Most of us are naturally inclined to purchase a house based on a pure gut and heart reaction. “It feels like home.” Right? However, finding that “feeling” can be an exercise in patience and frustration, just like dating. Here are 10 questions that can help guide you in finding your ideal home match.
Are You Low Maintenance?
Take a look at a potential house and its property. Are the gardens filled with perennials? How big is the lawn? What’s the roof warranty? A metal roof can last up to 50 years while asphalt shingles will need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years in areas that experience heavy snowfall and rain. Is the house constructed with a resilient material like Hardie board? Insects, weather and curious woodpeckers can make quick work of a log or wood home and require ongoing maintenance.
Are You Quiet?
Spend some quality time at the house and observe traffic at different periods of the day. Do the neighbours have a barking dog or young children who love their trampoline? Are you close to a firehall where sirens will be a constant soundtrack? Are there train tracks nearby? Are you on a major bus route? At an intersection? Beside a restaurant with outdoor dining? Get to know the neighbourhood and everything nearby.
Are You Warm?
While gas fireplaces are instant and convenient, they can also be inefficient depending on their age and BTU rating. Wood-burning fireplaces will require the care of a chimney sweep and a little lumberjack labour but are undeniably romantic. Pellet stoves have a high combustion and provide one of the cleanest burning fuel options but can pose an issue if you lose power (unless you have a battery back-up) as they still rely on electricity.
Propane and electric heat (baseboards, forced-air furnace) have their pros and cons with delivery fees and time-of-use rates. Boiler systems are commonplace in older homes but new technology has modernized the traditional radiator’s appearance and efficiency.
And don’t forget about heat loss —are the windows new? Do they need to be replaced? The R-value of a house’s windows and insulation can make for a cozy night or give you the shivers.
Are You Flexible? Willing To Grow?
If your family is planning to grow (dog, child or in-law suite?), will the house permit expansion? Is there an unfinished basement? Is it possible to add another bathroom? A detached garage? Main floor laundry? Will there be space for the art studio or kitchen island you’ve always dreamed of?
Are You Outdoorsy?
Is the house located near trails? Dog parks? What exposure does the house have? North-facing windows can pose a challenge, but there are certain plants that will thrive. Will you see the sun rise or set? Is there enough storage or space for a shed, deck and/or hot tub? Are the trees surrounding the house healthy?
Are You Financially Sound?
Is the house in a desirable location? A home in a gentrifying neighbourhood or bedroom community will likely increase in value but buying a boat access-only property or three-season cottage can hamper resale value. Consider budgeting for costs like monthly condo fees, parking, commuting, grass cutting and snow removal, septic pump outs or the cost of replacing aging appliances.
Are You Charming?
What’s the story behind the house? If it’s a heritage home, visit your local city hall to investigate the archives. A growing interest in schoolhouse and church conversions has helped preserve history while providing a reliable rental income for the savvy entrepreneur.
Are You A People Person?
Does the house realistically meet your entertainment requirements? Is there a room for the kiddos and their PlayStation? Will the dining table seat the entire family? Is there space to put in a pool? Pool table? How many guest bedrooms?
Are You Stable?
The foundation is where everything began. If you’re considering an older home, invest in a structural engineer for the house inspection. Be aware of erosion and high-water levels with lakefront properties. Check basements and ceilings for signs of leaks and mould and chimneys for integrity (and bats!).
Are You Willing To Change?
While a house may appear 100% perfect after the first starry-eyed visit, there will be inevitable changes that you’ll want to make. Are they possible? What can you sacrifice? What are your non-negotiables? Are they cosmetic changes (paint, lighting) or beyond-the-budget renovations?