Seeing Beyond the Surface Part 2: Exteriors

Seeing Beyond the Surface Part 2: Exteriors

Looking for a new home can be stressful and part of that comes from assessing something so important in such a short amount of time. When you buy a home you should always get the appropriate inspections, but before you even make an offer it’s important to know what you’re looking at. One of the things that I do as a Realtor is point out potential issues that buyers may not be aware of and provide a balanced picture of what it might mean to own a specific home. This article is the second in a series spotlighting those issues.

In Part 1 we talked about interior systems to look at when searching for a new home. This time we’re going to talk primarily about the exterior of a home. As always, get a thorough home inspection done on any house you intend to purchase.

The roof is a home’s first line of defense against weather. It has to stand up to both blistering sun and torrential rain. Most homes in North America have asphalt shingle/composition roofs, which last about 20 years. In comparison, slate, metal, and tile roofs can last more than 50 years, wood shake roofs can last about 30 years, and fiber cement shingles last about 25 years. If the asphalt shingles on a roof have developed cracks, lost a lot of granules, are chipping and look dried-up or curled up, then it’s probably time for a new roof.

Windows need to provide a reliable barrier against moisture and airflow for both the comfort of the occupants and the integrity of the building. It’s not unusual for an older house to need some new windows, or to need repairs on existing windows. But if many or all of the windows need replacing, it can get expensive fast. Windows can start at around $100 and easily go up to $1000 or more… EACH. It can add up to tens of thousands of dollars very quickly. If you’re looking at an old house with wood-framed windows, they can often be repaired, even if they’re cracked or painted shut. Older vinyl and aluminum windows don’t tend to fare as well, but the important thing is that they keep the inside of the home insulated and dry.

Traffic, neighbors, view, noise… these are all things to consider when locating a new home. Beyond how you feel about the area, the location also has a strong effect on the resale value of a home. Freeway noise doesn’t really bother you? Many people will not share your opinion, and that can become a problem should you need to sell your house. If you’re unsure about the area, visit on a Saturday night, or during rush hour and see if it still feels safe, quiet, and comfortable.

General Remodeling – Permits
If you see major updates—outside OR inside—that obviously weren’t there when the home was built, you and your realtor should research if there are permits for those improvements. Updates can mean anything from new retaining walls to the addition of a second floor. In Portland we’re lucky to have Portland Maps where you can do a quick lookup for modern (the last 20 years or so) permits on any given property. If you need more information than you can find there, go to the city Bureau of Development Services where you can see all the historic permits for a property. While all cities and counties have different permit requirements, they generally address the subjects of public and personal safety. Having a permit generally means the work was inspected by the necessary officials, ensuring the work is up to modern standards and the home is safe to live in. If work was done without a permit and discovered later, the NEW homeowner can be required to bring the work up to permit standard—or even dismantle and redo the work—before the city will allow occupancy. Some things that don’t require permits: Replacing a roof, replacing siding, painting.
Here’s a helpful brochure with more information on Portland permit requirements.

Next time: All about siding!

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