Buying your first home is a major milestone in your life’s journey, signaling a commitment to financial responsibility and a big-picture view of building a personal legacy.
Nonetheless, despite the generally “good” implications of buying a home, the fact remains that signing away your life’s savings on a down payment can be a scary proposition for the underprepared. After all, as a homeowner, you become financially and logistically responsible for all repairs and maintenance, with poorly designed homes being a significant burden on your time and pocketbook.
Therefore, when choosing a home for the first time, there are a number of important questions to ask your realtor to ensure that you are making a sound investment.
What Materials Were Used for Framing?
The framing is ostensibly the “skeleton” of a home. Framing has a direct impact on everything from how your home is able to withstand adverse weather conditions to your ability to undertake future renovations on your property.
As such, the quality of the framing is directly correlated to the quality of the home. Common framing materials, such as wood framing, do provide some benefits to a home, but come with a host of issues that will lead to elevated costs of homeownership, including:
-Porous sheathing, like plywood or oriented strand board, that readily absorbs moisture, leading to mold and rot
-Suboptimal thermal mass that can make your home susceptible to mirroring the exterior temperature, increasing HVAC use in summer and winter
-High susceptibility to fire and termite damage
When asking about a home’s framing, really take interest in properties that use innovative concrete solutions--specifically insulated concrete forms. Concrete has become an extremely popular framing material for rebuilding neighborhoods decimated by natural disasters, as its solid, one-piece design provides elite weather barriers and resistance to high-impact damage, making it a premier choice for limiting repair, maintenance, and utility costs for homeowners.
What Renovations Have Been Made to the Kitchen?
While the freedom of not having to answer to a landlord is undoubtedly a major advantage of homeownership, the general investment aspect is arguably at the top of the list of reasons to buy for the first time. With this in mind, you want to choose a property that is likely to appreciate in resale value should the need to move arise.
Trendy kitchens are one of the primary factors that can help a house capture a premium price come resale time, with the following features being desirable to prospective buyers:
-Bright, open areas that provide a sense of community between the kitchen and the home’s living spaces
-Durable, nonporous surfaces to aid in cleanup and reduce future maintenance costs, with colors of quartz countertops or white solid surface materials to match the bright ambiance being the preference
-Any “green” features, such as energy-efficient appliances, luxury vinyl plank flooring, low-flow modifications to the sink, and built-in water filters
Does the House Have Aging in Place Features?
Aging in place features refer to those aspects of a home that provide comfort and functionality to residents who are advancing in age. With the well-publicized move of the Baby Boom cohort transitioning to retirement in large numbers, owning a home that is well-equipped for aging in place could set your property apart in years to come.
While there is a vast array of features that could assist aging in place, some that offer the most straightforward functionality include:
-Shower seats and removable shower heads to increase comfort and reduce the risk of slipping while cleaning
-Handrails, or other more customizable options, in the kitchen and bathroom to aid in crouching and rising
-Industrial plumbing fixtures such as shallow sinks to limit the amount of bending and reaching required when doing the dishes and/or preparing meals
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.