• February 12, 2021

Hidden Home Costs: How to Avoid Buying a Money Pit

When buying property, it’s easy to focus on the upfront costs and ignore the long-term costs. However, what you pay in the long run is just as important – you don’t want to be taking out loans every couple months just to maintain and run your home.

From signs of pests to a low energy rating, there are lots of warning signs that you can look out for before buying a home. Below are just some of the best ways to avoid buying a money pit.

Opt for a New Build

The simplest way to avoid expensive running costs is to opt for a new build. A newly built property is likely to be very energy-efficient and you won’t have to worry about wear and tear. These properties tend to be good investments as a result of this.

A new build could include a home that has only recently been constructed or a home that is yet to be built. In the case of properties that are yet to be built, you may be able to customize the design. There are also house and land packages which could allow you to choose from various designs and various locations. It’s worth taking the time to explore your options.

It’s worth noting that new builds aren’t immune to problems. A snagging inspection can be worth looking into to check that there are no construction problems. You should also make sure that there are no local risks such as flooding or vandalism.

Avoid ‘as Is’ Listed Properties

Not everyone will want to buy a new build – some people are drawn to the character of older homes. Older properties are of course likely to have more problems, although usually a seller will make efforts to fix most of the biggest problems. The exception to this is ‘as is’ properties, which are usually left in a poor condition for the buyer to then take care of. In some cases, such properties may be so damaged that they may not currently be habitable.

Such properties are your typical fixer-uppers and you’ll need to spend a lot of money to make them safe and happy to live in. Unless you’re eager to get into property flipping, avoid these properties.

Look at the Roof

Roof damage could be a sign that the roof is in need of replacing. While you may be able to fix the occasional broken tile cheaply, you need to be certain that this isn’t going to keep happening. An old roof will keep developing new damage until you choose to replace the entire roof – this replacement will not be cheap. A broken roof could also be a sign that other parts of the structure are also potentially neglected.

Keep an Eye Out for Cracks

When viewing a property, it can be worth counting the cracks. Lots of cracks in different places is not a good sign – it could mean that there is a problem with the foundations, which will be costly to repair. Some cracks may be possible to ignore, but this could create costly problems in itself such as letting in cold drafts or pests.

Check the Quality of the Electrics/Plumbing

If you notice a lot of old wiring or old plumbing, consider whether this could be cause for concern. Rewiring or repiping an entire house is a very expensive job. If you can’t afford to do this straight away, you may find that you’re continuously fixing leaks or electrical faults.

What does old wiring and old plumbing look like? Look out for discoloured light fittings, flickering lights, rusted taps or ancient radiators. You could also ask the property owner if they had any problems with electrical faults or leaks (although they may not always answer honestly).

Check for Signs of Pests

If a property has a pest problem, this too could be expensive to sort out. This could include mice, rats or termites. Visible signs of pests could include droppings or termite holes.

Terraced housing with pest problems can be particularly troublesome – even if you get rid of the infestation in your home, you may find that pests are still present in neighbouring homes and they will easily be able to crawl back into your home unless you spend a lot of money pest proofing every entrance.

Consider Local Risks Within the Area

Is the property in a high-risk area for natural disasters? A property could be expensive to maintain if you are constantly having to fix flood damage or if there are issues of soil erosion/sinkholes. You should also be wary of high crime areas where burglary or vandalism could be a threat.

Insuring yourself against these disasters may be possible, but in high-risk zones you’ll likely have to pay high insurance rates. The alternative option is to spend lots of money on protective measures such as flood defences or home security (if the property doesn’t already have these measures in place).

Schedule a Professional Home Inspection

A professional home inspection is always worth investing in when buying a home. A home inspector will be able to detect any of the problems above and possibly give you an estimate of how much you’re likely to end up spending on the home. Not all building problems are obvious – a professional home inspection will spot all these hidden problems such as subsidence or electrical issues. Sometimes the seller will have a home inspection done before selling up – if so, they should be able to provide documentation as proof.

Consider an Energy Audit

An energy audit is able to check how energy-efficient a home is. This could include checking for insulation and assessing the efficiency of a property’s boiler/furnace/HVAC. A professional energy audit could help to tell you exactly how green a property is and whether you’re likely to spend a lot on energy bills. The seller may carry out an energy audit in which case they will be able to give you a certificate telling you exactly how energy-efficient the building is.

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