6 Things to Ask Before You Buy A Home
Often people buy homes that aren’t quite right, but with a little work here, an addition there, now or down the road it will be perfect. Unfortunately, there are times where this doesn’t pan out because either legally, they are not permitted to do the work or the cost to complete it is way over their budgets because of existing impediments. So, before you buy a home it is important to know what you can and cannot do with the property and structure.
Here are some questions to ask before you buy:
1. Ask for a site plan. This will determine the boundaries of the lot. You will be able to determine if you will be able to meet setbacks for future additions. It should tell you if there are any areas of conservation or wetlands, which could be potentially unbuildable. Grade changes that would pose a challenge to work with. From there you will at least have an idea if you would need to seek approval from various town boards, i.e., Zoning, Conservation & Health.
2. Is the home historic or is it in the historic district? Even if the home is not historic, but in a historic district, it could be subject to the board’s purview. Historic districts on Cape Cod are fairly strict about what can/cannot be done to these home’s exterior.
3. Is the home on the water? If it is, great! However, that doesn’t mean you can erect a dock, sink a mooring or create a little beach. Most properties are deeded with this. If it isn’t clear, contact the town’s Conservation agent and Harbormaster.
4. What can be changed inside the home? The structure has great bones, but you want to reconfigure the interior. Bringing in a builder to advise what can/cannot be done is prudent. Knowing what a load bearing wall is important if you want an open concept home. If a wall isn’t holding the house up, it’s several columns or a beam in the ceiling. Knowing this early will hopefully save you money later.
5. How big is the septic system?This determines how many bedrooms the current property is allotted. If you have a 3-bedroom septic, but want to finish the room over the garage as a 4th bedroom, you would have to install a new, bigger septic system or if available tie into the sewer system. If it is in question visit the town’s Health Department, they can help you.
6. Is the property part of a homeowner’s association? If so ask to see the covenants. Some just collect dues others legislate over everything you can do with your home, as well as what times of year work can be performed.
Time and again clients come to us with grand plans to improve their homes, only to be disappointed that they cannot due as they planned. There are a myriad of reasons this happens, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Perform your due diligence, and when in doubt reach out to professionals for advice. We are always here to help and advise.