The Condition of your Home?

It’s hard to believe a new year is already underway, and this is probably the best time to invest a couple of hours in taking stock of your most important investment, your house. How much do you really know about the house you are living in? Whether you’ve been living in your house for several years or have just moved in, it is necessary to know the current condition of your house and its various components to be able to maintain it and keep it in optimum working order. Over the years, building components age and deteriorate. Think about it. Are you living with conditions now, which might affect the value or safety of your home?

The truth of the matter is that most people know very little about their homes, and this can lead to costly expenses in the future. It does not take an experienced person to realize or see that a problem exists, but it does take a conscious effort to look for them. The problem is that people can sometimes live with deteriorated conditions for years without really realizing they exist.

For example, if the dishwasher is running, do you still have enough water for a shower? Do the kitchen lights dim when the microwave oven and toaster are operated at the same time? How old is the roof? Is it water-tight? Are there any cracks in the walls or ceilings that might be an indication of building settlement? When was the last time you looked in the attic or under the house? If improvements have been made to your house, have they been made in a safe and code complying manner?

Whether or not these specific questions apply to your home, you will want to know as much about your home as possible to properly maintain it. If you do not maintain your home, you could face large expenditures of time and money when a system or component finally fails. Take some time and think about the actual condition of your home. Look around and find out what kind of shape your house is in.

The best way to begin analyzing the condition of your house is to approach it in an organized way. Start by looking at the outside, and then move to the interior. Keep a written list of the items you see, and note their condition. Once you have finished, you will have a good idea of the things that will need to be fixed immediately, or in the near future.

The exterior of your house can be divided into several categories to assess; the exterior siding, the drainage around the building, the walks, patios, and decks, and the window and doors. Check the siding and trim around the windows and doors for signs of weathering and cracking. Look at you gutters and downspouts for signs of leakage at the seams and rusting. Make sure all the water from the downspouts drains away from the building.

Step back away from the house and look at the roof for signs of missing roof covering or debris in the valleys. If the roof is wood shake, it should be serviced every three to five years and has an average life of 18 to 22 years. If the roof is tile, look for broken or missing pieces of tile.

One of the most important things you should look for at the exterior of your house is the emergency shut offs for the gas, electric and water meters. Are the shutoff valves and disconnects accessible, or are they concealed by plants and vegetation. If there were an emergency could you shut these items off?

Once you have finished the exterior, inspect the interior of the house. Inspect each room, and look at the walls, ceilings, and floors. Check the interior walls and ceilings for signs of cracking and water staining. Minor cracking around window and door openings is common, but it can also be an indication that the house is settling. Cracking in sheetrock less than 1/16” is usually not serious. However, it is important to know if the crack is existing, or new, and if it is getting bigger. Is the floor sloping? If they are new cracks, or they are getting bigger, the house may be settling with the recent rains.

Do all of the doors and windows properly open and close and are they weather-stripped? Are there panes of broken glass? Do the windows have screens?

Inspect the bathroom and kitchen, paying particular attention to the plumbing under the sinks. Many times, leakage under sinks goes undetected because of all the items people tend to store in the sink cabinets. Do the toilets flush properly, and does the water shut off when the tank is full? Toilets that continue to run, or faucets which leak once the water shuts off not only costs money, but wastes water. Finally, check to make sure that all of your smoke alarms operate.

Once you have finished, you will not only have an accurate appraisal of your house’s condition, you will also have a detailed list of what needs to be fixed at your house. With this information, you can plan your repairs, and avoid having to fix things at the last minute. In this way, you can keep your house in top condition with a minimum of effort.

To assist homeowners in this process of inspecting their home, All About Homes, Inc., has develop a free, simple and straight forward checklist called the “Home Owners Guide to a Property Review.” It walks you through the exterior and interior of your home, allowing you to inspect each of the components, and make comments. If you would like a copy of this checklist, you can either visit our website at www.allabouthomes.com, and click on Brochures, or you can fax your request to our office.

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