Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We-Design-Day: Home Evaluation - the starting point

Why a Home Study is necessary!

This week, we are going to start looking at what needs to be included in the home study. First, I think it's important to understand a few key things about our homes and the parts that make it all work together.

In the beginning, there was a lot. Upon the lot, was built a foundation and on that foundation a structure was erected. The structure was covered in building materials to protect the interior from the elements. On the interior of the structure (now covered in building materials) there were fittings. The fittings brought heat, light and water to the structure.
Your foundation, the exterior walls, the windows, doors and roof make up your building envelope. Much like a postage envelope, it protects the interior of the home. As important as all of the functional features are, without an intact and sufficient envelope, the rest of the parts would be exposed to the elements. If any part of the envelope fails, it will allow all the weather that blows by to blow in and will be as effective as sleeping in cardboard box. The envelope works with the heating, cooling, ventilation and electrical to enhance the performance of the home and should be examined as part of our home study. Malfunctions in the interior systems can also cause the envelope to fail. It's kind of a catch 22...

Your interior fittings include all the mechanical systems (furnace, air conditioner, plumbing (water, fixtures)), electrical systems (power, telecommunications, internet), fire systems (which in most homes includes smoke detectors and CO2 detectors) as well as your interiors finishes – flooring and wall coverings. General home improvements or modifications/upgrades generally aren't included in a typical (condominium) reserve fund study but when you are a homeowner, they do need to be included in order to keep your house current and saleable.

Overwhelmed yet? It's all really quite straight forward but I'm big on sharing information because I believe the best decisions are informed ones! Let's simplify and break down to it's parts.

Your home study needs to include everything that keeps your house together and running. In addition, it also needs to include all the flexible items. If we had a laundry list, it might look something like this:

Envelope: foundations and footings, exterior walls, door and windows (and their framing/assemblies), roof (including trusses, sheathing, shingles and related fittings and items attached to your house (awnings, decks, railings, patios).

Interior Fittings:

Mechanical systems: furnace, hot water tank, air conditioner, mechanical ducting, humidifiers, water pipes, toilets, sinks, taps, ventilation fans

Electrical systems: electrical panel, fuses, wiring, light fixtures, duplex outlets, light switches, telephones, wiring, data cabling, data connections, outlets, burglar alarms, fire suppression systems (smoke or heat detectors, CO2 monitors)

General: flooring, wall coverings (including paint, sheathing and insulation)

Aesthetic considerations: mill-work, cabinetry, appliances

This isn't necessarily a complete list but it starts to show just how many different things need to be looked at and included. Thankfully, many of the things on the list have a long life so although they will need replacing, it is possible to space the big ticket items over many years.

Thanks for joining me this week and come back next week as I start exploring how to assess the current conditions of the building and the systems with in it!

Want more information? Here are a couple of links that give a bit more detail about the topics of today's post.

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