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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The wife and I decided it's time to down size. The kids are gone and have families of their own and retirement is just a few years away. We currently live in a 90 year old stone house in the city and we've been looking for a ranch on a 1/2 acre lot within 10/15 minutes or so of a decent fishing lake.
We need a 2 car garage and it has to be at least 21'-6" deep in order for my boat to fit.
We can't afford new so were looking at homes that are 10-12 years old. We've only found 2 houses in the last 4 months that fit our needs and both are in the same subdivision. We've paid for home inspections on both and it's hard to believe how much work needs to be done on homes that are only 12 years old.
I walked away from the 1st house because we thought some of the issues were just premature. Boots on plumbing vents were tore and probably only had 3/5 years left on the life of the roof, the furnace was rusty inside from condensations leaks and the A/C was on it's last leg. The deck was pretty rough looking but I was more concerned about the house.
The 2nd house had the same roof issues but it also had 2 windows that need to be replaced (seals are broken), and the house had some evidence of termites. They have annual inspections so I have to assume its recent activity but still it will need to be treated.
I guess I was disillusioned in thinking that a 12 year old house was going to need a lot less attention. I was hoping I could go 8 or 10 years without much maintenance.
My mother in law said she read an article that said that houses start to need more maintenance once they reach 10 years old.

Any thoughts?
 

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I had a custom ranch built in 08. Nothing fancy, 2000 sq ft with a three park garage...all brick. Friends of ours bought a new stock house in a plan as they wanted a bigger house, same year as ours and its a piece of crap. So are the ones around it built by the same builder. A storm came thru and ripped the siding off of their neighbors house. You could see directly into the bedroom as there was no particle board on the outside of the house, just the pink insulation holding it together...and this passed inspection when it was being built! The point of my rant is if your looking in a plan or neighborhood in the burbs, find out if all the houses were built by the same builder if you can and do some searching in that builder and see what their reputation is / was. Having a house built was a pain at times, but in hind site, I got what I paid for and did my due diligence on the builder we choose. It's paid off so far.

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Gotta agree with the MIL. But if you stay on top of "issues", its a lot easier and cheaper. Just depends on the conditions where you start from.

Home inspections will save you a lot of money and grief. I learned the hard way (but only once).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
searching in that builder and see what their reputation is / was.
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The builder was supposed to be one of the better ones. I don't believe he's still around but they were known for some of the better homes.
We looked into new construction and it's out of our price range.

I think I have as much work to do on these newer homes as I do on "this old house". I will say they at least have dry basements. This area has a very high water table and the sumps tend to be active all year. Neither home had any sign of water intrusion but I was surprised neither home had a battery back up on their sumps.
 

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I worked a stint as a customer service rep for a better than average builder a dozen or so years ago. Everything is "builder grade" unless the customer opted to pay more. Also the builder would increase or decrease the base material quality level depending on the community and pricing of the community. Eg we had houses in Medina county that were below $200k and the same house in Avon may have been $350k. While the floor plan and base house were essentially the same, the trim, cabinets, windows, appliances, lighting...were different.

Also, most of these homes are built on a quick schedule (90 days or less). Time is money, and one way to save $ (make profits) is to get-r-done and move on.

You simply can't compare that to build of an old/older home that has been taken care of. Most people don't replace their broken furnace with the cheapest one available. Or they don't put granite countertops on top of cheap cabinets....builders do....often times they use top brand names to offer the illusion of quality, but they cheapest of the brand name line in stead of a better grade "off brand".

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No disrespect to contractors, but "modern" built houses are NOT well built compared to even the mid 1960s. "Stick" built above ground houses have been "obsolescent" strictly from an energy efficiency point of view since the mid 1990s, when the last Federal standards were set; natural gas and electrical prices are approx. 3X what they were in 1990. Modern "stick" built houses are NOT termite proof, NOT tornado proof and if they catch fire being built of pressed chip board (OSB) they suffer damage that is often uneconomical to repair. Add in the required "getter dun" time table demands upon the builders and the temptation to "cut corners" is all but unavoidable. I personally have a FONDNESS for cement and steel, which while 1/5th more expensive to initially build with is immensely stronger and happens to actually BE termite proof, water damage resistant and even if the contents burn leaves the structure largely undamaged. Plus it would tend to survive a direct hit by a twister with much less damage and should be repairable economically...placed into a well drained suitable hillside the average in ground house in Minnisota costs about $250 a winter to heat, assuming you periodically use a fire place...btw, what do YOU pay to heat during the winter? Energy costs WILL eventually force most homes into the ground, literally...
 

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You're not going to get a new house that's 10-12 years old. All the items you mentioned are maintenace issues..

Maybe you should rent a house or condo...
 

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All houses will have problems, some more than others however just have the price you are willing to pay reflect the condition.
 

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Home inspections will save you a lot of money and grief. I learned the hard way (but only once).
Not every time. The house my dad bought passed inspection even though it was re-wired by a moron. Half his 1st floor is wired to a GFCW outlet in the kitchen :bulgy-eyes: so if he plugs too many things in to outlets on the first floor the GFCW turns the power off. The wiring in the garage was basically out of the back of TV's Radio's etc...

This one house my wife and I recently looked at was quite interesting. The Realtor even commented it shouldn't even be on the market till some things were fixed like the wiring in the crawlspace just laying on the ground, roof was shot and the garage foundation was crumbling and the owners had it listed for $80,000 lol.
 

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Crappiedude, the one thing you may want to consider is a newer or older home. 15 years is about the max you can go before those little maintenance issues become big issues. Furnace, pumps, pipes, seals, etc all need to be taken care of "along the way" or they all start to go out about the same time.

What about an older well taken care of home? Just a thought....

Mr. A
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
On my current house, I had a 20 year roof installed 25 years ago. I've never had a problem with it or the plumbing boots. I had the roof replaced this year as a selling point for when I list my house.
26 years ago we had the windows replaced. They said the windows would be trouble free for 15-20 years and outside of replacing a screw or two they really haven't required much. They still function well and still look good.

As I look at my own personal repairs the items have exceeded their life with no major problems nor do they have any signs of premature aging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Crappiedude, the one thing you may want to consider is a newer or older home. 15 years is about the max you can go before those little maintenance issues become big issues. Furnace, pumps, pipes, seals, etc all need to be taken care of "along the way" or they all start to go out about the same time.

What about an older well taken care of home? Just a thought....

Mr. A
My 2 needs in buying a home are how far to the nearest lake, will the boat fit in the garage & is the basement big enough for my little archery range.
My wife on the other hand has other needs like will her car fit in the garage (with my boat) and something about rooms sizes and storage. One other thing she wanted was a 1st floor laundry which you really don't see too much in the older homes.
I get it that homes need regular maintenance. I guess from what every ones comments are that's it's just at that age where it needs some TLC.
 

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Keep in mind that the person that bought that new house 10-15 years ago, paid a premium for it so that they would not have to do any maintenance. Now, they are selling it so that they don't have to fix up the place! This, combined with the new age homebuilders cutting corners to build houses faster, makes for a bad investment for you.

It may be better to look for houses that are 25-30 years old where someone has already replaced the furnace and roof.

Home inspections are great for pointing out problems that you haven't noticed. It's even better if you inspect the "bones" of the house yourself in detail before putting in an offer. Otherwise, you might be wasting time and money on the home inspection.

We spent $900 on a home inspection, well inspection, septic inspection, and appraisal on a house that looked beautiful on the outside, but would have cost $40k to fix up. The last inspection was the septic which found that there was no leach field. Just a tank and pipe leading to a creek on the neighbor's property! We were looking for a fixer upper, but now that much of one. We learned from that experience and a month later found the house we are in now.

Also, when looking at a house, look at the drainage around the house. The house may not be in a floodplain, but that beautiful 2' wide creek next to the house may turn into a 50' wide raging river in a storm! A house could flood even if it's not in a floodplain. Be wary of houses that sit below the road or have walkout basements or are near ponds or streams. Get a battery backup for your sump pump too!
 

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Also, furthering what bdawg said, if there is a finished basement and you see ANY signs of mold, "musty" smells, ect, would STRONGLY consider looking else where...corrective action will generally require gutting at least part of (and maybe ALL) of it to even find the likely leaks...very likely you`re talking about putting up plastic and stripping the walls down completely to properly seal them before even getting to the OUTSIDE drainage problems...just been there, DONE that, have the ruined "t" shirt to prove it ! If you ever get the chance to do it, DON`T !
 

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The townhouse that Linda moved out of had a very long list of problems, starting with exterior wood shot through with holes from bugs and squirrels. One basement wall was badly buckled, probably from a big volunteer mulberry that nobody bothered to remove until her son and I dug it out. The gutter along the front of the garage looked like a truck ran into it, but I finally figured out that it was caused by another mulberry banging against it - just the stump was left. The windows were cloudy, the patio door (also cloudy) had no rollers so it just dragged in the frame. The stockade fence had blown flat, but I replaced that. The basement flooded when the sump pump failed.

And, I-270 was about 100 yards away, we were looking up at semi trucks.
 

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Basically, I think you get what you pay for. If you want a house in perfect condition, you will have to pay above market value. Most houses have some problems, but you have to decide if those are problems you can live with, easily fix, or are willing to hire a contractor to fix after you buy it. You might also be able to get the seller to fix it before you buy it.

The house we bought 1.5 yrs ago that is almost 90 years old. We got it at less than Half the price that the previous owner paid 10 years ago! They spent too much on the house and didn't have money for maintenance. They didn't clean out gutters or downspouts and had water seeping into the basement. It ruined one room where the walls were finished. When we looked at it, there were only studs, insulation, and plastic left on the walls in that room! I haven't fixed up that room yet as we are using it for kitty litter.

It turns out that the lines going from the downspout were clogged. That downspout now lets out above ground. Another one I just replaced a 25' section because tree roots had clogged it. The house sits on a rise and shouldn't have downspout or basement flooding problems, but it did because of poor maintenance. I was able to diagnose the problem and figured the solution would be something I could fix cheaply. I also removed two small trees that were really close to the house myself, refinished the wood floors, painted the whole inside of the house, and replaced most of the light fixtures and faucets.

We still had to hire a contractor to do $26k worth of work, but we got the house at such a discount that it was worth it! We also used a loan program where you could roll the cost of the contractor's work into the home loan, so a lot less out of pocket expense for us! Now, according to our last appraisal, the house is worth $40k more than what we owe!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Keep in mind that the person that bought that new house 10-15 years ago, paid a premium for it so that they would not have to do any maintenance. Now, they are selling it so that they don't have to fix up the place!.........Get a battery backup for your sump pump too!
I had these same thoughts myself.
The more I've talked to people the more common this sounds
 

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To add to BDawg's post about Gutters, take a marble with you to check to see if the gutters are draining the correct way. The roofers that replaced the roof on my dad's house hung the gutters the wrong direction so instead of water flowing to the downspout it flows away from it and sits at the other end for days leaving a foul stench.
 

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This is still a buyers market so you have the power of negotiation. If you like one of these homes, I would make an off to purchase based on contingencies that the issues revealed by the inspection are taken care of; proof they were done professionally must be provided and to the satisfaction of the inspector. If these people are serious about selling these homes, they will get these problems taken care of so you are moving into something with little to no issues. The worse thing that could happen is they say "no" and you walk away. If you don't ask, you don't get.
 

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I agree with Flymano1, you can negotiate almost anything in these deals. It doesn't hurt to ask. Some people will do anything just to get the house sold.

When I was buying my first house, the seller updated the electric and put a new roof on the house for us. We also added $2,000 to the selling price to include some furniture that they left for us, cause the seller didn't need it. Buying a house is more like a swap meet than buying at a store.
 
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