Snagging a rehab house for very little money, refurbishing it, and then selling it or renting it out for a tidy return on a small investment – now that’s a nearly irresistible proposition. But there’s probably nothing worse than finding yourself irretrievably committed to a rehab project and then discovering that it will ultimately be a money-sink. That’s why you first need to keep in mind these questions every buyer should ask the seller before buying a rehab in California.
1. Is there any lead-based paint?
Whether you’re buying a property to flip or to rent, the presence of lead-based paint will make things many times more difficult. Many states now mandate taking some kind of protective measures to deal with the lead-based paint. These measures, which generally require the services of trained and certified professionals, can be both costly and time-consuming.
2. Does the house contain any asbestos?
Pretty much the same thing goes for asbestos – except it’s a problem that is way more expensive to rectify. In older homes, you can find asbestos in insulation and siding and even in some flooring. In a few cases it can be encapsulated, but most often will have to be removed and disposed of properly by a certified abatement crew. And this is, of course, another costly procedure.
3. Are the window frames sound?
Windows and window frames may not seem like a major concern, but they can be. And that’s why this is one of the questions every buyer should ask the seller before buying a rehab in California.
If the window sills and frames are rotted from improperly functioning guttering, they will have to be replaced. And often, you can’t tell whether the rot is present until you begin to tear into it. Once you do, you’ll generally have to replace the windows as well.
4. What kind of shape is the wiring in?
In older houses especially, the wiring can be a grave concern. It may not even meet the code requirements for California.
For example, there won’t be any of the now-required ground-fault outlets or even junction boxes where needed. What this all means is that if the wiring is outdated, you’re looking at a major investment to re-wire the house.
5. How old (and in what shape) is the plumbing?
Old plumbing – now there’s another huge issue. A lot of older houses still have very outdated plumbing like cast iron drain fittings and galvanized water lines. And some of them even still have the old Orangeburg sewer lines – which will definitely have to be replaced. And if you’re aware of what plumbers charge per hour these days, you also know that replacing and updating old plumbing will be a very expensive proposition.
6. Is the foundation in good shape?
Of all the questions every buyer should ask the seller before buying a rehab in California, this one may be the most important. It is, of course, easy to see what kind of shape the roof is in, but that’s not always the case with the foundation. While the foundation may look fine from the outside, there still may be problems.
It may be the case that water seeps into the basement and crawl space under the house – a sure recipe for odors and mildew. A sinking foundation shows up in floors that aren’t level. And foundation repairs are anything but cheap or easy. A bad foundation can even be an obstacle to getting financing.
Buying a house, especially a rehab, always carries a certain amount of risk. If, however, you use these questions every buyer should ask the seller before buying a rehab in California, it will go along way toward mitigating that risk.