Hunting a Homer House: What to Look for When Buying

My first property purchase was a condo in New Westminster. It was a modern one bedroom that had a park on one side and a giant school field on another (perfect for me and my dog, Gryphon).

When I first looked at the condo, I fell in love with it. It had everything Gryphon and I wanted. The only drawback was that I could hear the communal garage door going up and down. I was so in love with the condo that I didn’t think much of the garage door. Until I moved in. It wasn’t a huge deal but it was there and I wished I’d given it more weight back when I was house hunting.
Moral of my story is to take your time, even in this hot sellers market, to be mindful about what you’re looking at. When going to a showing, take a deep breath and look beyond the decor at your potential investment.

I talked to local home inspector, Steve Franklin, and got an inspector’s eye-view of what people should be looking at when buying a house in Homer.

According to Steve, here are the top five things that home buyers should be looking for:

  1. Fall Hazards & Egress
    Deck railings and stair rails can get in the way of a stunning view but they’re really important to have, especially if kids are around. Lenders require railings on decks and stairs so you want to make sure those are present.Portholes in bedrooms are neat design features often seen in Homer. They’re not so neat if your house is on fire or if there’s a bear in your house (that happened to me, long story). All bedroom windows need to have exit.
  2. Shock Hazards
    Make sure that any kitchen or bathroom outlet that is within 6 feet of water or services a counter top is a CFCI outlet. Basically, they’re the ones with the reset buttons on them, they’re pretty easy to spot.  A GFCI outlet is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person.
  3.  Dryer Vents
    First of all, make sure there actually is dryer venting. Then ensure that the vent is made of metal (not vinyl, or anything else flammable). Should lint ever catch on fire, a metal vent is more likely to contain the fire and not burn your house down. Check the vents.
  4. Chimneys and Wood Stoves
    (I jokingly call my husband Safety Bill because he’s super cautious and very aware of how things can go badly in a situation. Given what I get up to, he’s the perfect person to have at my side. I think Bill’s met his match here.)
    Creosote builds up in chimneys pretty easily in these parts. Always ask when the chimney was last serviced, it should be done at least once a year.
  5. Excessive Moisture
    Especially in Homer, where we’re near the ocean, moisture can be hard to manage. There are ventilation systems that can manage the moisture build-up in a home and some of them, like a Fresh Air 80 system, can be inexpensive and easy to install. When looking for a house, make sure that there is a moisture management system in place and that it’s operational.

One of my favourite places to point new home buyers is the Home Depot blog. Their 10 Things to Inspect before Buying a Home is a comprehensive and useful tool for home buyers (new and seasoned) to review before going to a home showing. I think it’s also a good tool for sellers to know what buyers might be looking at. Bill and I are slowly preparing to list our home and we’re using it to make sure that we’re list ready.

Keep your wits about you home buyers! Good luck out there.

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