For most of us, purchasing or building a home will be the biggest investment of our lives. This section is about knowing what to look for in new homes to get the best value for your dollar, or what to look for in a building lot for the same reasons.
What to look for in a home location:
- Being close to where you work and play
- Nearby services: Groceries, banks, shops, public transportation
- Minimal traffic: Air pollution, noise pollution, commute times, walk-ability
- Emergency services: Hospitals, fire and police
- Municipal services: Access to power, water and sewage (this is more relevant for building lots)
- Green space: Being close to parks and water ways
- Soil conditions and topography to avoid flooding
- Stay away from flood plains
- Backyard privacy and greenery
- Sun exposure: For interior quality of life, also for a garden if that's your thing.
- Community: Do you like the neighbours and community?
- Is it kid friendly? (this is good to know, even if you hate kids)
How to recognize a valuable home:
Don't just look at how many bedrooms and bathrooms, true value goes far beyond that.
- Energy efficiency - ask to see utility bills
- Quality heating equimpment and affordability in operation
- Exterior durability - building enclosures and water management
- Interior air quality
- Interior durability - water resistant surfaces in wet areas
- Interior design and functionality of space
- Soundproofing from the exterior and in division walls
- Good quality windows
- Quality mechanical systems
Just because a home you like doesn't score an A+ on all the above criteria doesn't mean you should cross it off your list. Be sure you know what you are buying, and that you have the funds to pay for any improvements, certainly any urgent ones. And showing that you did your homework will give you a leg up in negotiations.