What Makes a House a Money Pit? Here Are 11 Gotcha’s

What Makes a House a Money Pit

Houses are well known to be expensive investments regardless of buying new or used.

Sometimes one can pop onto the market for a great deal, but before buying a fixer-upper, there are several warning signs to be on the lookout for, so you can understand all the risks.

The following list will lay out some things to look out for before dropping a large lump of money into a possible money pit.

Smell of Moisture

Mold can be a toxic nightmare for homeowners, and water damage can completely ruin the integrity of a home.

If the air inside the home feels moist or damp, have a mold test done, check the ceilings for any leaks, and be sure the foundation and basement have no cracks or signs of water.

A slow plumbing leak can cause considerable damage, which is very costly, so be very careful before purchasing a home with potential water-related damage.

Deteriorating Roof

Damage to the roof can be costly to repair, especially if there is damage to the rafters, beams, and sheathing. In addition, roof damage can lead to leaks which can lead to unsettling mold problems and water damage to the ceiling and walls.

Be on the lookout for discoloration on the ceilings, bubbling on the walls, and any other damage caused by water leaks. As for the roof itself, pay attention to areas with missing shingles or where they look particularly worn down. 

Outdated Wiring 

Old homes may have outdated electrical systems that are outdated.

For example, a home with a fuse box rather than a circuit breaker is at higher risk of overloading and potentially causing a fire. 

To update an old electrical system will cost thousands, depending on the age and size of the home. If looking over a home that appears to have an old electric system, have an electrician look it over before deciding on the purchase. 

Outdated Plumbing

Old galvanized pipes can lead to lead poisoning, leaks, and expensive damage. When looking at an older home, be sure to check out the pipes and assess their condition.

It is also a good idea to check the water pressure in the shower and sinks as well as the toilet’s ability to flush. 

Be on the lookout for bubbling toilet flushes, as they could indicate a problem with the septic tank or sewer lines.

Having a plumber come out to check all of these things would be very beneficial before dropping a large sum on a home. 

ComponentGeneral Lifespan
Cast iron waste pipe60 years
Gas and plastic water lines75 years
Water heater6-12 years
Copper water lines70 years
Water softener20 years

Unstable Foundations

Every home should be built on a sturdy foundation and properly leveled. Check the home’s flooring and foundation when you inspect it. Any leaning or dips to the floors are a sure sign of something happening to the home’s foundation. 

You can walk the perimeter of the home to check for cracks in the foundation, settling or signs of eroding soil. These types of repairs are very costly and not easy to fix.

If you have any concerns regarding the foundation, be sure to get a professional opinion.

Read More: Are Victorian Houses Money Pits?

Warped Wood and Walls

Warped wood or drywall is a potential sign of water damage and can be very costly to repair. Moisture issues can cause crumbling and peeling to the inside of the home.

If unaddressed, this can cause not only mold growth but collapses within the home, making it entirely unsafe. 

Stay well away from warped walls unless you are ready to pay for professionals to locate the problem and fix the damage it has caused. 

Poor Drainage and Standing Water

To maintain the integrity of the foundation, it is important that a home have adequate grading and drainage. The ground around the house should slope downwards so water can drain away from the foundation. 

If you spot any standing water at the base of the home, be prepared for potential damage and costly adjustments. Take the time to check over the gutters and drains to see if they may need replacing or updating. 

Inefficient or Warped Windows and Frames

Whether it’s due to age or other factors, window frames can warp and allow outside air to come in. This can cause large spikes in electric and gas bills depending on the season and could add to issues with keeping out mold and further damage due to moisture from outside.

In some cases, window replacements may need to be custom-made to fit warped frames, which can be very expensive. 

Poor Insulation

Another money gobbler, thin insulation can cause massive rises in your bills depending on the season. While addressing insulation in the attic is not difficult, the insulation in the walls is another challenge.

Request the seller’s electric bills over the last year to gauge the average of what you will be spending. A home with poor insulation or leaky frame will reflect a much higher monthly cost.

Terrible Termites

Termites can gnaw away at frames and structural supports, essentially causing a home to crumble if they are not handled quickly. While an exterminator is cheap, the damage they inflict is not.

Since most of the support of the home is hidden from sight, you will need to keep an eye out for sagging ceilings and floors. If you suspect termites, contact professionals to help as quickly as possible, or abandon the home altogether and look for other options.

Buying As-Is

Always be wary of a home being sold at a low price and stating it as sold as-is. Usually, this is a sign that the home requires major repairs, and the seller has no intention of taking care of them.

Once you purchase and sign off on anything sold as-is, you will be stuck with whatever damages and issues you discover. 

Take extra precautions unless you intend to buy a fixer-upper for renovation purposes. If you are looking for a home and do not want to fork out extra funds for repairs, look for other options. 

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