How to preserve the Value of your home
BY LISA SCONTRAS
With home values down from peak levels around the country and the median sale price of a single-family home on Oahu depressed in August homeowners are asking experts for proactive ways to preserve the value of their single greatest asset.
Barry Wong, president of Building Specs Hawaii, is a professional home inspector. For 15 years, buyers and sellers have sought him out to help in detecting a home’s defects or potential maintenance problems. But a growing number of homeowners are now asking Wong to guide them in prioritizing needed repairs not because they’re preparing to sell their home, but because they want to preserve its value.
“The problem is, if you wait until you want to sell your home to thoroughly check it out, issues that could have easily been dealt with early on have now grown into much bigger problems,” says Wong. “I hear it all the time from sellers, ‘I wish I would have known about this five years ago.’ It is for this reason that I recommend you bring in a keen eye every five or 10 years to give you a professional evaluation.”
Wong says the cost for a home inspection is determined by the age of the house, size, and type of construction, but averages $500. Here is a list of the most common problem areas:
Sometimes, in an effort to stage a home for sale, a seller might throw up a quick coat of paint to freshen up a home’s appearance. The problem, according to Wong, is that a “quick dress job” can actually devalue the house.
This is evident when the house looks freshly painted, but upon closer inspection reveals the paint is already peeling and blistering. Wong recommends using quality paint and caulking products to prevent water penetration.
“This is where homeowners are going to get the most bang for their buck because you can probably do this yourself,” says
Wong. “There is a wide range of high-quality and low-budget paints. And even though times are tough, it pays off to get good quality paints and sealants.”
The roof is a big-ticket item.
Replacement costs are significant and leaks can cause extensive damage and be expensive to repair.
“Typically, a roof is designed to last for around 20 years, but if it is not maintained properly, it may not last that long,” says
Wong. “The problem is out of sight, out of mind. Because folks can’t see it, they may not know if there is a problem. And if you don’t take care of it, you could be looking at water damage or mold, and these issues can be expensive.”
Shoddy workmanship of any kind can devalue a home, but when it comes to electrical projects, it is essential to have a licensed electrician do the work.
“Some of the most common problems I’ve seen in my business has to do with when people try to add on to their square footage,” says Wong. “One of the biggest electrical problems I see is over demand.
“Energy usage has probably increased dramatically since the home was built,” he continues. “Today we have microwaves, computers, lots of televisions and we’re pulling a lot more power out of the house than it was originally designed for.”
As a result, circuits can become dangerously overloaded. Often it is a simple matter of adding a few new protected circuits to the home’s existing electrical box, though in some cases, installing a larger box may be necessary.
Newer homes are fairly safe from major plumbing issues that usually are related to aging cast iron galvanized pipes, used in construction prior to 1975.
Don’t let them sit unused.
Run showers, dishwashers, garbage disposal, air conditioner anything with water once a week to keep the pipes from drying out and cracking. In older homes, underground plumbing can deteriorate due to corrosion or root intrusion. Some plumbing companies are able to snake a video camera into the lines to evaluate their condition.
When dealing with termites, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. It is much less costly to prevent a termite infestation than to repair one. Any kind of water damage, caused by leaking pipes or roofs, can attract termites.
Wong recommends a preventive maintenance termite treatment program every three to five years. He also suggests cleaning screens every three months, espeically for those who live “close enough to see the ocean.”
“Salt collects on the screen and then works its way down to the window sill,” he says. “The salt will corrode and damage your window frame.”
By keeping the major parts of your home maintained, you can supersize its value in the long run.