How To Assess the Quality of a House

Ten years ago my wife, Linda, and I decided to do a major remodeling job on our home. We added more square feet of living space and moved the kitchen and one of the baths. It was a big job. The result of our efforts and investment was…and remains…the best thing we ever did. So, what does this have to do with buying a first home or any other home, you ask? It has to do with the clues you can look for to help in assessing the quality of a house that may become your new home.

Okay, you are out house hunting. You step into a house for the first time and it’s spotless. It is very clear from what you see that the people who live there possess a deep affection for the house. Then you descend into the basement and your eyes are drawn to the heating and plumbing system. You are blown away. Even if you don’t know a whit about heating and plumbing you know you are viewing the work of a master. In fact, if the house is in my neighborhood, you might be looking at the work of a master plumber and friend named Don Dowling, owner of Don Dowling Plumbing and Heating. Here are some images that tell Don’s story a lot better than I could.

Pretty good, huh? Could you confidently buy this house assuming it had the other things you were looking for? You bet you could and the reason is that quality in a home is viral; it tends to spread from one mechanical system to another and from one room and floor to another. Now, the chances are that you won’t see too much work that looks like Don Dowling’s, but you should be on the lookout for clues that signal quality even if it doesn’t rise to the level of art.

But, alas, many houses you will see in your search…especially a search for a first home…will have some glaring deficiencies. Even if the house has been well cared for, the baths need redoing, the kitchen looks like it’s out of a 50’s sitcom, and the boiler prompts a quick look for a coal chute. These are things to deal with, but they are not necessarily big deals. The key is to know what you are getting into and that’s where I can help. As a former developer and rehab contractor I have seen it all and have transformed some pretty ghastly structures into some very good homes. I’ll use that experience to help you navigate around some big deal issues that you probably don’t want to tackle. Your home inspection service (using one is an absolute must) will do the rest.

So, you see a bunch of houses and finally buy one that you really love at a price that you love even more, because it needs some work. Now what? My recommendation is to hire the best contractors that you can, because it will be their work that potential buyers will see when you are ready to move to your second dream house.

By the way, you can reach Don Dowling at (973) 228-7400. He does wonderful work in my neighborhood. Tell him Brian McCabe sent you.


Categories: All Posts, Residential

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