Inspect Your Attic Before Buying or After Purchasing a New Home
As the housing market begins to recover from the COVID-fueled downturn, many people are just settling into a new house or are seriously considering putting the ole homestead on the market.
According to Realtor.com: “Buyers are still out shopping for homes, which suggests they think [the recession] is a temporary blip,” said Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale.
With interest rates reaching all-time low (3.07% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan in the week ending July 2), new and prospective homeowners keep the market healthy. In fact, mortgage applications have surged 18.1% annually as of mid-June, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
However, new homeowners and house shoppers may want to tread carefully amid all this optimism. Finding the perfect home (not just a house) involves careful investigation, regardless of interest rates. And one of the most vital areas to carefully inspect is right above your head – the attic.
Attics are sometimes overlooked during the home-buying process – “It’s just a place to store our junk!”
However, an attic reveals visual cues that point to potential issues with the structural integrity of a house.
“An attic reflects the history of a home. It can provide clues to serious problems that might not be disclosed or even known by the current owner,” Realtor Elizabeth Weintraub said in a blog post.
Rafter and truss damage could be a warning sign the households some serious problems. In addition, a closer inspection may reveal substandard wood quality or haphazard construction, and that can lead to leakage and water damage.
That’s why it’s vital to have your attic inspected by a trained professional. But what will an inspector be well inspecting? Let’s look at some basics.
Out with the Old
Nothing scares away potential home buyers more than a house with an old, worn-down look – outdated appliances, period-specific décor (must we discuss the avocado fridges from the 70s?), and decrepit insulation.
Not only can old insulation ramp up energy costs, but it can also be hazardous to your health! As we learned in our recent blog post, older homes may be rife with unsafe insulation consisting of dangerous material such as vermiculite, asbestos, and, the appropriately scary sounding, Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI). A trained inspector can advise you on your modern, safer options.
Unless your home is in the top 10-percent in the Awesome Insulation League, your house – old or new – is probably under-insulated.
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association estimates around 90 percent of existing U.S. homes are under-insulated.
“If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), residential electricity use nationwide would drop by about 5 percent and natural gas use by more than 10 percent,” Jonathan Levy, professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health, said in an NAIMA statement.
The U.S. Department of Energy agrees:
“Unless your home was specially constructed for energy efficiency, you can probably reduce your energy bills by adding more insulation. Many older homes have less insulation than homes built today, but even adding insulation to a newer home can pay for itself within a few years.”
So how can you know if your house is under-insulated?
EnergyStar advises looking for:
- “Drafty rooms
- Hot or cold ceilings, walls, or whole rooms; uneven temperature between rooms
- High heating or cooling bills
- Ice dams in the winter”
Use a ruler to measure the depth of your insulation. From there, you can estimate what’s known as an R-value.
The energy department adds: “R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation.”
And Don’t Forget…
Finally, a professional attic inspector may also check for wildlife damage – that’s right, critters may sneak into your attic looking for a cheap place to crash. Gnawed wiring, shredded paper nests, and feces are a pretty straightforward set of clues that an amateur attic inspector may miss.
In addition, an inspection may look into proper chimney access and quality, as well as signs of water damage.
Before you sell your home or place a contract on a new buy, it’s a fantastic idea to launch a professional attic inspection.
Understanding the intricacies of attic quality and insulation gets complicated quickly. An inspection by a qualified attic professional can save time and money.
Why crawl around a dark, dusty (and maybe spooky!) attic without knowing the warning signs.
Contact us today to discuss how we will provide the next level in attic inspection for your home – before the SOLD sign goes up.