There are many questions to ask the professionals you are working with when you buy any home. Some questions are more appropriate to older homes. It is essential that buyers of older homes know what questions they should ask, and what the answers may mean for their future comfort and cost outlay. Here are 5 critical questions to ask before you buy.
1) How Was This House Built?
You want to know the kind of materials that were used, and you want to know the basic construction techniques. To take two examples, you see the house was finished with sidings of some sort. Did the builder use vinyl or cement fiber? Cement fiber is better quality, it lasts longer and it usually requires less ongoing maintenance. You also want to know whether the house was mainly built with wood or with cement blocks or brick. This can become important as you ask your other questions.
2) What Sort of Foundation Does the Home Have?
Many older homes have cement pad or pier and beam foundations. If it has pier and beam, you want to ask more detailed questions. Are the piers wood or concrete? Are the beams made of wood or metal? All foundation materials deteriorate over the years. Wood can rot, metal can rust and concrete can collapse. When any of these happen, the sooner you arrange for pier and beam foundation repair the better.
3) Has the Crawl Space Been Finished?
Unfinished crawl spaces are more prone to let water pool under the house. These pools make it more likely that the foundation materials will rot, rust or collapse. Plumbing leaks and poor natural drainage can increase the pooling. Stagnant water can mean mold and mildew will grow under the home, and it also encourages vermin and insects.
4) What Kind of Soil is the Home Built On?
Many homes are built on clay soil. Clay will act like a sponge, so it expands and contracts. This constant movement, year after year, can weaken the foundation. The piers move, become less supportive, and the whole house begins to shift, tilt or warp. You can notice it by looking for doors or windows that don’t open smoothly or by feeling for sagging floors. If the home is brick-finished, you may also see cracks at the corners and by the doors and windows.
5) Has the Home Been Inspected for Construction Integrity?
This is your most important question. A suitably qualified professional will be able to carry out a detailed and comprehensive examination. The report will tell you if pier and beam foundation repair is needed. If it is, choose a specialist company with a long and well-respected reputation.