House shopping 101: Custom in-fill mansions: Five risk factors. Do you know what you don’t know? Ask me!

princess croppedby Keith Tripp, March 2018

Placing 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.

Buying the in-fill custom mansion requires a bit of a different mindset than other homes. These homes are built in older, high demand urban areas, typically by smaller building and development companies. The old home is knocked down and a new one built on the lot. As with all new construction, there is some risk of incomplete or inadequate work, but a few areas stand out as being higher risk than buying from a subdivision developer. Here are the first five that come to mind:

  1. Age: For financial reasons, these homes are typically put on the market a year or more after completion of construction and have usually been sitting vacant for that first year or more. The house is slightly aged but hasn’t been tested by actual occupancy. Appliance and other warranties may be expired. Because the house has been vacant or very lightly used, there is no assurance that everything is in working order
  2. Warranty: For financial reasons, these homes are often built without Tarion warranty coverage, and the builder is not registered with Tarion. Discuss this risk with your lawyer.
  3. Municipal and jurisdictional authority’s’ compliance: Permit approval is a multi-staged process. The fact that the house is for sale, or even proof of occupancy approval does mean that everything is complete and approved by the authority having jurisdiction. Due diligence is required to check completion and compliance of the building, plumbing, electrical and gas systems.
  4. Exterior claddings, especially EIFS: Details such as weep holes for brick veneer and drainage for EIFS are notoriously bad on these houses. I have yet to find one of these houses that does not have significant issues related to the exterior claddings.
  5. Strange roofing slopes: High interior ceilings combined with height restrictions result in strange and unusual roof layouts. Typically, the top of the roof is flat, but the problem is that the slopes leading to the flat part of the roof are often too flat for normal shingle application. These roofs are not accessible with a 32ft. ladder. Very long ladders or lift trucks are required if any maintenance or repairs are required.

If you are a home buyer in the GTA, 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.