By Mitch Kuffa
Let’s talk about ways that you can OVERSPEND on your house.
When inspecting houses, I am surprised at some of the repairs/updating that has been done, the potential costs expended on those improvements and how that concern could have been addressed much simpler and economically. Here are some of the most common areas where homeowners often overspend.
In my experience approx. 80-90% of all basements (new or old) will allow water to infiltrate at one time or another. Approx. 75% of these “leak” conditions can often be easily remedied.
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Digging up the inside or outside of your foundation walls, breaking out concrete floors, repairing or modifying the drain tile system, rebuilding foundation walls and resealing their surfaces will probably correct the problem, but often are not necessary.
Sometimes something as simple as cleaning your gutters, permanently installing 3-4’ extensions on your downspouts, raking back your flowerbeds, filling in any holes or low spots around the outside of your foundation, eliminating raised flowerbeds, installing a sheet of plastic under your wood deck or painting the interior of the foundation walls with a masonry waterproof paint may remedy your problem and cost a lot less.
The majority of replacement windows used today are what we call vinyl or Fiberglas insulated (these have insulated glass, screens and hardware). Granted, there are a lot of options available, but the basic window from one manufacturer to another is quite similar.
The price differences begin to occur when you start adding in other entities such as installers, sales persons, etc.
Your best bet for the best price comparison is to call a local contractor or go to a large builders supply or lumber yard. They can also recommend competent installers to make this a profitable experience for all (you, supplier and contractor).
Approx. 70% of the heat loss goes up through the attic/roof. Approx. 21% is through windows and doors. About 9% is through the walls.
Adding attic insulation is fast, easy and economical. Changing windows and doors can be very expensive. Adding wall insulation can be difficult, expensive and sometimes conspicuous. So, dollar for dollar, the attic insulation gives you the fastest payback for the money invested. On the other hand, the value of adding wall insulation is questionable.
The price for a modular pre-fab cabinet can vary dramatically and overall there is a high mark-up item in our industry.
When someone tells me that they got 20% off their new cabinets, I roll my eyes. Licensed builders typically get 35-50% off. Again, realize that there are many options and upgrades, but overall the sizes of modular cabinets are standard and take just as much time to install one that is made out of pine with standard shelves as it takes to install a walnut cabinet with roll-out shelves.
So the big concern typically is not the labor, but to get the best discount on the cabinets themselves.
If you were to go out and get 3 bids from 3 different contractors to re-roof your house, you would get prices that ranged thousands of dollars apart.
I recently visited a residence that had a leaky condition on a new roof. The homeowner showed me some of the documents from the contractor. I almost lost my cookies when I saw the price he paid. This re-roofing job was a standard $5,800.00 job. The homeowner paid $14,000.00.
The bottom line for you is to predetermine what you want, write up your own specifications, do research and get multiple bids from licensed contractors. Like I tell myself many times when doing home inspections, DON’T GET LAZY. Make sure you do your homework. And by the way, be very careful with upfront money or deposits. Everything should be in writing and create a paper trail. This will save you money in the end.
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Mitchell J. Kuffa Jr. has been in the construction industry since 1967. In that time, he has worked as a construction superintendent, general superintendent, and construction manager for several large developers in the state of Michigan.
He has been a licensed Michigan residential builder since 1977, was an incorporated general contractor for 11 years and has built and/or run the construction of approx. 3,500 residential houses, apartments, commercial structures and/or light industrial buildings.
In 1981 he started the first private home inspection agency in Michigan and to date has personally performed approx. 16,000 inspections for a fee.
Since 1981, Mr. Kuffa inspects properties and acts as a construction consultant for the Michigan Department of Mental Health (group homes), UAW Legal Services, numerous lenders, several non-profit organizations and for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Kuffa is a federal housing fee inspector and FHA 203K mortgage loan consultant, works with several attorneys’s as an “expert witness”, has been appointed by the Michigan circuit court system to act as a Receiver in several cases concerning construction litigation and teaches a series of construction classes (for misc. school districts, community colleges, Michigan State Housing Authority, etc.).
Mr. Kuffa has been a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors, in good standing, since 1983.