House shopping 101: Do you know what you don’t know? Ask me!

by Keith Tripp, March 2018

DSCF5940Placing offers to purchase and applying for financing and arranging a home inspection are time consuming and costly. Its good to know as much as possible about the house before taking those steps.

In our buyer-beware real estate system, asking the right questions and getting credible answers when house shopping is the key. The starting point to understanding brick and mortar related risk is to know the age of the house. That is the age of the oldest part, not the age of the shiny new kitchen floor. Construction techniques and materials were quite consistent across the GTA over the years, so there are predictable risk factors based on age alone. Combined with a look at the house on google or other online info, I can often see and write up issues from the comfort of my desk without leaving home based on age and style only. I can also generate a list of questions to ask for that house based on what I can’t see. If you ask those questions and push for credible answers, you might save yourself the cost and effort of going through the offer process, including the cumbersome task of getting your deposit money returned. For most of my inspections, I arrive at the house already knowing exactly which high risk defects to look for.

For example, if the house was built in the mid 60’s to mid 70s, does it have copper or aluminum wire, or both as shown in the cover photo? Who cares? Well the big bad insurance companies do, and they control our financial world. If buying a house with aluminum wiring, you need to know the state of that wiring and you need to know your home insurance provider’s policy on aluminum wiring. They may request a full inspection by an electrician, and/or they may charge a higher premium. In practical terms, the reason the insurance companies are worried is that if aluminum wiring is in poor condition or has been mated with incompatible fixtures, it represents a higher fire risk than copper wiring.

If you are a home buyer, feel free to contact me early in your house shopping process with the address and age of a house you are interested in. I can send you a few key questions to ask that may save you time and money