Consider the Needs of Your Home
Before making firm plans to put in a new kitchen or add the sunroom
you have always dreamed of, it's a good idea to take a close look at the
condition of your home. It's important to know if there are any
underlying problems or repairs or replacements that need to be dealt
with in the near future. With a clear picture of the condition of your
home, you can budget for both the short and the long term.
Here is what you can typically expect to find in an older home:
- Wear and tear. Many items that suffer the most from
normal wear and tear are not necessarily expensive to redo or replace,
but can make a big difference to the appearance of your home, and your
enjoyment of it - for instance paint, wallpaper, carpeting, floor
finishes, exterior and interior trim, stairs and eaves.
- Components reach the end of their service life.
Many of the products in your home have a defined lifespan. Careful
maintenance may extend this somewhat, but sooner or later you need to
replace them. For instance, after 15 to 20 years roof shingles may begin
to curl, disintegrate and lose their ability to keep out moisture.
- Structural damage. Over time, cracks may appear in
the foundation and brick siding, gaps may develop between the foundation
and walls, or there may be other evidence of shifting and movement.
Mortar in stone or rubble foundations may fall out, siding may work
loose, and windows and doors may bind. Floors may slope or sag, and
there may be cracks in the drywall or plaster. As a result, your home
may not be as comfortable, energy efficient or healthy as it could be,
and if these problems are left unattended, further structural
deterioration may occur, leading to more costly repairs.
- Moisture problems. Moisture can damage your home
and your health. Water seepage around plumbing fixtures can destroy
surrounding wood and finishes. Moisture trapped in the exterior walls
and roof can cause structural deterioration and create cracks, bulges or
stains in walls and ceilings. Condensation on windows can eventually
rot wood frames and sills. Molds may grow in both visible and invisible
places, and a damp basement may give the whole house a musty, unpleasant
smell. Moisture problems should be identified and dealt with before or
at the same time as your renovation; this will help to protect your
home, improve the quality of the indoor air and ensure a healthier
living environment for you and your family.
- Need to upgrade systems. The electrical system in
your home may pre-date today's equipment-intensive lifestyle and may not
be adequate, or safe, for your needs. Your plumbing system may not give
you enough hot water or steady pressure for your family's showers and
laundry. An older heating system may not deliver enough heat. You may
also want additional items to bring your home up to today's standard of
performance and comfort - e.g. ventilation, electrostatic furnace
filters, water purification, alarm systems and wiring for home office
- Need to upgrade the energy efficiency. Improving the energy efficiency of your home can save you money and increase your living comfort - fewer drafts, fewer cold and hot spots, less fluctuation in temperature. From caulking to added insulation to better windows, there are many ways to upgrade the energy performance of an older home.
A good first step is to conduct your own inspection. Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation has a range of information to assist homeowners
in this task.
When you discuss plans with a professional renovator, you can expect a detailed assessment of your project - what's involved, the impact on the whole house and the need to upgrade systems or the structure. The renovator will also advise on other work that may be needed.
Renovators may recommend an assessment of the energy performance of your home and opportunities for upgrading. In the event of severe air quality and mold problems, they may suggest you hire an indoor air quality investigator.