Buying a home in south Florida is not just buying a home, it’s buying a lifestyle. To make sure nothing stands between You and living in paradise, I listed 6 things that you might run into when looking for home to purchase. Knowing about them will help you make an educated and good decision.
1. Hurricane Protection
Make sure the home that you are planning to purchase has some kind of hurricane protection for the windows: Panels, Accordion Shutters and Hurricane Impact windows are the three most common types. If you fall in love with a home that does not have up to code hurricane protection, there are programs out there like #ygrene to help you finance those costly home improvements.
2. The Roof
How old is the roof? You can find out on the city’s online permit search when the last roofing permit was pulled and closed. This will let you know how old the roof is.
Different types of roofs have a different life span:
– Flat Roofs last 20 years and should be replaced if 10 years or older at time of home purchase for insurance reasons
– Shingle Roofs last 30 years and should be replaced if 20 years or older at time of home purchase for insurance reasons
– Tile roofs last 50 years and should be replaced if 30 years or older at time of home purchase for insurance reasons
There are said to be two types of homes in Florida: Homes with termites and homes that will get termites. It’s just something every home owner has to deal with at one point. Luckily, there are soooo many companies in South Florida that specialize in treating termites and repairing termite damage.
If a home was treated for termites, you can most likely find a sticker with the date of the treatment on the hot water heater.
Is finding that sticker a red flag because it means the home had termites? No, absolutely not. Responsible home owners get their home treated to prevent a termite infestation. Also, a recently treated home will most likely not need another treatment in the near future.
4. Polybutylene Pipes
Yeah… say that three times! Polybutylene was used between 1975 and 1996. Unfortunately, the material starts breaking apart after 10-15 years, which results in leaks. If left undetected, it will cause mold pretty quickly, which is a huge health hazard.
Unless you have the cash to re-pipe a house, I would not recommend to buy a house with polybutylene pipes, if the inspection report lists it.
A quick look under the sinks during a showing can tell you what type of pipes the home has, but only an inspector will be able to tell what’s inside the walls.
5. Aluminum Wiring
This really doesn’t happen a lot, but it happened to me! Aluminum wires are not as durable as copper, but were used somewhere around the 1970s because it was a cheaper alternative. Why is it bad? Aluminum wiring can be a fire hazard, especially where it connects to outlets, switches and the fuse box/ circuit breaker box. There are some remedies, like using copper pigtails to connect the aluminum wires to the outlets and switches. The only way to get rid of the fire hazard once and for all is to re-wire the whole house.
Most home insurances do not insure homes with aluminum wiring, because of the potential to cause a fire. As of now, Universal Property and Citizen insures homes with aluminum wiring.
You just can’t live without an A/C in Florida. The average life span of an A/C Unit is about 15 years. If you live close to the ocean where the air is salty and oh soo good, you will need to replace your Unit more often, because the salt in the air will munch on your air conditioner’s materials.
If you are about to purchase a home but the A/C is about to bite the dust, try to negotiate a sellers credit towards closing costs, so you have the necessary cash for a future A/C replacement. If there is no wiggle room in negotiating, but you are already on cloud 7 with your future home, #ygrene will help you finance a new A/C.
Disclaimer: I’m a Real Estate Agent, not an inspector, roofer or electrician. This blog post is written from the knowledge and experience that inspectors, roofers and electricians shared with me.