For almost anything that you buy, the rule “You get what you pay for” applies. Although there are some items which are okay to buy cheap, there are other things which are worth every cent, especially if the quality matches the price.
What about when it comes to buying homes? If you’re not having a house built from the ground up, your option would be to purchase an already existing house. If you have a limited budget, then a cheap house is what you’re looking for.
The good news is that your dream house does not have to turn into your worst nightmare just because of limited funds. By knowing exactly what to look for when buying a house, you can make sure that you won’t have to spend a lot of money on repairs. Here, we will take a look at the top ten factors that you should consider when buying a cheap house.
Top 10 Factors to Consider when Buying a Cheap House
If you must buy a cheap house, here are the things to take into consideration to ensure that you will not be spending more on repairs or renovations in the long run:
1. The structural integrity of the house as a whole
When buying a cheap house, the number one thing that you need to consider is the overall structural integrity of the house. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as “just” a bathroom or a kitchen remodel.
If the seller claims that all the house needs is some work on the bathroom, there’s definitely more to it than that. Again, your goal is to not spend any more than you have to on repairs and remodelling. If you do that, there’s no sense in having bought a cheap house – you should have simply invested in a brand new house.
To give you an idea about how to check on structural integrity of the house, here’s a quick checklist:
- Are the ridges of the roof not bowing and are the eaves not sagging?
- Can the windows be easily opened?
- Do the doors open and close easily?
- Do the floors have significant bowing?
- Is there bowing between the siding and the basement walls?
- Is the chimney separating from the walls?
- Are there large cracks in the foundation walls and plaster?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, there could be significant issues about the structural integrity of the house that may lead you to spend more on repairs later on. It pays to seek the help of a professional or someone who is knowledgeable about building or construction, so that you can have a second opinion of how sound the structure still is.
2. The electrical system
Next, when buying a cheap house, see to it that the electrical system is still good. An electrical contractor who has experience in residential construction can help assess if there are any electrical hazards in the cheap house you are planning to buy.
Let’s say that new wiring was added on the house during a remodelling project. There should have been permits issued and a final inspection should have been conducted. Check out public records to this effect. If you see new-looking electrical panels, there should be a label indicating when it was installed.
A knowledgeable electrician can also check if the grounding system is intact, or if ground rods were installed to replace the grounding electrode water pipe.
As a potential buyer, there are things that are simple enough which you can check on for yourself. For instance, make sure that all the junction boxes have covers or that the existing lighting fixtures have the correct wattage.
Higher wattage lamps than what a fixture is rated can be a fire hazard. Is the existing electrical wiring around the house neat, or does it look disorganized? If you have any concerns, it is best to consult a licensed electrician.
3. The water filtration system
You should also check on the water filtration system. The newly-installed ones should have no problems in giving your family healthy, clean water to drink. If the water filtration system is old or non-existent, think about having it replaced.
4. The air conditioning units
During the hottest months of the year, you need air conditioning units to cool the interior of your house. Before buying a cheap house, make sure that the AC is still in good operating condition. Otherwise, you might have to replace the existing units to save on electricity and make the cooling system more efficient.
5. The heating system
Most old homes are heated using oil and if the house you’re buying falls under this category, you do not necessary have to convert from oil to gas. Doing so will be very costly, and is a very big project to undertake.
Consult a professional what the best solution would be if it turns out that the heating system in the cheap house you’re buying turns out to be inadequate, or defective.
6. The condition of the walls and floors
What kind of material was used to finish the walls? If it’s hardwood, for example, all that it might need is a good sanding and refinishing.
For the walls, make sure that under the paint, there are no layers of wallpaper. If paint is layered over wallpaper and paint again, it might take you months before you see the condition of the actual walls. If all the wall needs is a fresh coat of paint, then you’re good to go.
7. The storm windows and screens
You should also check on the condition of the windows. You’re lucky if the windows installed are relatively new. For this, all you have to do is add weather-stripping to make them winter-proof.
8. The overall insulation
Insulation is what keeps homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If the cheap house you are buying has old plaster walls, it is highly likely that there is very little or no insulation at all. If this is the case, hiring a contractor to insulate the house for you may cost you money – but the savings that you will enjoy from heating and cooling bills will be well worth the investment in the end.
9. The plumbing system
If you plan to add bathrooms or kitchens to the house in the future, check on the existing plumbing system. If you w ant, you can hire a professional to check the sewer line into the street. This is a preventative measure that you can take to prevent any messy sewage-related projects in the future. If the sewer is problem-free, check on the plumbing system inside the home.
Check on the water supply which comes into the house. If the pipe is galvanized steel, that’s a very old plumbing material which needs to be replaced immediately. Copper or plastic is a better bet, because it is relatively new.
You should also check if the pipes are of the right size, inspect the inside drain lines, check on the size of the pip on the main water supply, and test the water pressure by turning on all faucets at the same time.
10. The condition of the roof
More importantly, check on the condition of the roof. This is one of the most expensive parts of a house to replace. You don’t want to spend the next winter season dealing with holes on the roof and having to spend than you actually have to on heating bills.
If you are trying to buy a cheap house which has mold or moisture on the roof, it’s better to let it go and look for a new one. These are very dire, expensive house problems to deal with. If the condition of the roof is still good, then you are in luck because you don’t have to spend anything on having it repaired.
Other Things to Look for
When buying a cheap house, there are other things that you need to take into consideration. How many years do you anticipate living in the cheap house that you are planning to buy? If it’s longer than five years, you would not want to purchase a residential unit with extreme problems because it would end up being costlier in the long run.
If you’re considering remodeling the cheap house, are you doing it for resale purposes or to suit your own living habits? If you stumble upon a cheap house with ornate, intricate details, these might need to be restored to retain the character of the house – something which might be costly in the end.
When buying a cheap house, knowing which factors to consider before finalizing the sale will help you out a lot. You don’t want the house to be a burden in terms of repair and remodeling costs, so make sure that it still has that structural integrity to be able to handle being lived in for the next few years.
If not, then you might be better off waiting until you have the necessary funds to buy a slightly more expensive house, but will not give you the headaches associated with a cheap house which has a lot of structural problems.