Tips for a Safe Home Buying Experience

Lindi and her husband Mark standing in the laundry room of their new home

Buying a new home is a big decision, whether it’s your first home or your forever home. The home my husband and I live in now was our second home purchase together. We had lived in our previous home in the city for five years, and had two children there, but we were looking for a rural home with more space for the kids. We were also looking for a home with potential to renovate and build equity in, as renovating and designing was a passion of ours.

Tips for the Best Home Buying Experience

If you’re looking to buy a home to renovate, here’s a few tips to make the process as seamless as possible.

First, be patient! We looked at multiple homes and were prepared to put offers in on other homes almost immediately. However, our patience paid off as my husband’s mother later suggested we buy her home, and it turned out to be the perfect property for our kids to play, and for us to add some of our creativity, use our renovation skills, and build equity in our new home.

Second, if you’re looking for a home to renovate or flip, be mindful of homes that have already had some work done. Many people will do upgrades to their homes before they sell (e.g. changing all of the flooring), but if you are planning to renovate, this may cause you to pay for renovations that you’re going to end up ripping out or changing later on.

Third, always get a professional home inspection before buying. Even when you know the seller, it’s a good idea to get an external assessment done of the house and property. If you see specific concerns or your home inspector does, you can bring in specific qualified trades to help assess. In one of the homes we looked at we had an electrician come to inspect what we suspected was “DIY wiring”, and he revealed that the wiring was not done to code and the entire basement would’ve needed new electrical work. Taking these measures and knowing the state of your home will help you get a proper insurance quote later on as well.

Tips for New Home Owners

Have your home, but not sure which first steps to take? There are some quick and easy things you can do as new homeowners to ensure you get the most out of your new investment.

Check Your Appliances

Check your appliances as soon as you move in. There is often a clause in the buying contract that refers to all of the working appliances, and you will need to do your own check, as soon as possible, to ensure that these appliances are all performing as expected. Examples include leaking dishwashers or washers, and bad hot water tanks. If these are left unchecked, you may risk losing your opportunity to have these repaired or replaced.

Do A Walk-Through

As soon as you move in, and before your furniture fills the home, do a thorough check of the entire house, especially the perimeters of the rooms, as the previous owners may have been able to hide or neglect areas that weren’t easily visible when their furniture or area rugs filled the rooms. You should always ask if there were any insurance claims against the house before you buy the property and have a record of everything disclosed, and any frequent problems (e.g. flooding). If additional concerns are found these could potentially affect your insurance in the future, but if found right away, again you may want to contact your realtor or real estate lawyer if it was not properly disclosed during the sale.

Learn the Details of Your New Home

Get to know your new home! Keep a record of all of your home’s details, many of which should have been disclosed during the buying period. Many important details about your home and property could come up when you are looking for home insurance coverage. Things to consider are age and type of electrical, plumbing, roof, heating systems, etc., as well as the age of your home. In our recent home buying scenario, we were in a rural setting, so we also paid attention to our well system (to make sure water is potable), and our septic system.

Make a Renovation Plan

If you are buying a home to renovate or flip, come up with a plan before you start. Depending on the age of the home there are many things to consider on the walls, and behind the walls, that could affect your scope of work or costs of renovations, such as old wiring, asbestos, or plumbing that isn’t up to code. It’s best to come up with a detailed plan so that you can apply for the correct permits, and tackle spaces in an order that is efficient and cost-effective.

Consider Improvements That May Help to Save Money First

There are some home improvements that can be made that may help lower your insurance premiums, and that you could consider tackling depending on what already exists. For example, updating old knob and tube wiring or adding security systems can all help lower your premiums. By making these improvements early on, you can save money for future renovations.

Buying a home and planning your improvements is an exciting time! Do your research and do some planning to make sure you have the most positive experience and make the best investment in your future!

Disclaimer: *This information and the opinions expressed in this blog are written by Lindi and Russel Vanderschaaf, conducted on behalf of Allstate Canada. They have been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.