Renovation Priorities? Start with the foundation.

A lot of people think  if they’re getting their homes ready for sale, they should update their bathrooms and kitchens and not worry about the leaks in their foundation. I’ve had people say, “we  get used to it. Every spring we bail out the basement out.”

Well, as nice as it is to have great bathrooms and well-equipped kitchens, I can’t easily sell a house that has a leaky foundation. 

Home inspectors raise big red flags about water damage. They worry about what’s behind the drywall, like black mould and rot. (Insurance companies don’t like it either.)

Experienced buyers know that a leaky foundation can turn into a major repair. First time buyers may not notice the signs of water infiltration  themselves but they’ll be spooked when the home inspector points them out.

It’s pretty much the same with the roof. A house that has cupped or curling shingles scares people off. Unlike most cases of water damage, people can see for themselves if the roof isn’t good anymore. It makes them wonder if there may be other things the homeowner hasn’t attended to either.

If you’re thinking of selling, and you’ve had problems with water getting in the house, my advice is to forget about the kitchen and bathrooms. Take a good hard look at doing whatever work is needed to address that issue.  

Sometimes, fixing leaky basements can be relatively easy: adding eavestroughing, grading the soil away from the house so that water runs away from the foundation, or even digging a channel with a perforated pipe to divert water. A foundation expert can tell you what’s best for your house and your budget. Roofing companies are always happy to send someone around to quote on repairs. 

Make sure you get several estimates.  I had clients getting ready to sell who were quoted $23,000 for a new roof. That seemed high to me. I referred them to a couple of  companies I’ve worked with. The company they ended up hiring did the work for less than half that amount.  

If there has been water damage, point it out to your realtor. Tell  him or her what you’ve done to fix the problem. The buyer needs to know; these aren’t things you can, or should, hide. The rule is if it’s something that might affect the buyer’s decision as to whether to buy or not, they need to know.

Cracks in the foundation should be repaired; roofs that need new shingles should be re-shingled. If you can’t afford to do the repairs, at least get a few quotes so that a prospective buyer knows exactly what will be involved. 

And remember this: a home inspector would rather see a solid house that needs a little cosmetic updating than a beautifully staged home that leaks water.

If you don’t address the issue, you won’t get the price you want. And if you don’t at least disclose it, you may face a lawsuit down the road.

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