Sunday, June 27, 2010 -
By Kelly Smith
Special to Relocation.com
Buying and moving into a home is an exciting event in anyone's life, whether it's a starter home, the result of a move, or just buying a larger house because of an expanding family or upward mobility.
But let's face it, no house is perfect. Aren't there a few things to take care of to make it fully livable, comfortable and safe? Let's take a look at some potential issues.
Use the Results of Your Home Inspection
The analysis from your home inspector is a good jumping off point for identifying potential repairs – take another look at it right before or after you move in to give you a good idea of what you need to tackle. A good home inspector is going to catch the critical issues; that's the reason for choosing a reputable inspector.
Some of the things that he might have identified:
* Foundation problems -- Foundation problems are critical because they can affect many other areas in your home in a cascading fashion. For example, doors and windows will fail to open and close properly; drywall will crack and separate along seams.
* Roof problems --Your roof may have leaks that you haven't noticed because the incoming water evaporates before it makes its way through your ceiling. This can still pose health issues because of mold and mildew. The shingles may be on their last leg; in this case, it's best to re-roof before leaks have a chance to become an issue.
* Basement problems -- Your basement can also be a source of mold and mildew problems. Any leaks from hydrostatic pressure or cracks will have to be repaired and sealed.
Safety and Environmental Repairs
There are several things to look at in the home safety and environmental arena.
* Radon in the home -- Radon is a radioactive gas resulting from the breakdown of uranium in the soil and water. Testing for it is straightforward – just get a short-term test kit from your local home improvement store. After the recommended test period, typically two to 90 days, send it to the lab for analysis. Radon is measured in units of pCI/L and if it comes in at 2 pCI/L or less, you're fine. Otherwise, repairs should be taken to lower it. This can be done with point-of-use water treatment and a basement ventilation system.
* Smoke alarm check -- Go through the home and do a smoke alarm inventory. There should be at least one in each room and in every hallway. If you're missing any, install them. If they're there, replace the batteries. Test them every month.
* Install fire extinguishers -- Granted, fire extinguishers aren't noted for making a fashion statement. But, then again, neither is a charred kitchen. Install one in any room where there is a potential risk. This includes, at a minimum, the kitchen, the garage, a workshop and on the deck near the barbecue pit.
* Upgrade your receptacles -- Almost all electrical building codes are in a continual state of evolution. Because of this, you would be hard pressed to find a city or county that doesn't require GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles in the bath and kitchen. If your new home wasn't recently built, it might not be up to code. Go ahead and install them if they're missing (swap the old receptacles out). Like smoke alarms, test GFCI receptacles monthly.
Finally, get the family together and have a bonding experience by compiling a wish list of repairs. New cabinets? Repaint that appalling colored living room? Refinish the basement game room? The list is endless, but that's one of the joys of home ownership, isn't it?
Kelly Smith is a former software engineer at NASA and a professional handyman who is now a full-time writer.