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The next essential step in the planning process would be to best ascertain the condition of the home. This is sometimes the hardest part to objectively accomplish by the homeowner because they have a personal stake in any upgrades and/or preferred features of the home, and there might be less of a focus for areas of deficiency that aren’t directly impacting their lifestyle.
There are three aspects to measuring the condition of the home. First is evaluating the condition of the systems and mechanics of the home. Secondly, documenting any upgrades to the home. And thirdly measuring, or scoring, the features of the home as it compares to other homes on the market.
The first step of evaluating, or officially inspecting, the condition of the home is to performa room by room evaluation of all aspects of the home. The agent or homeowner may perform this process, but usually it is best performed by a licensed home inspector.
The cost to professionally inspect your home is usually around $400-$500. This seems like a lot of money, but the results come in a certified report which can be utilized in obtaining, or discounting your home insurance and can be included as a disclosure when marketing the property.
Citizen’s Insurance, or the state funded insurer of last resort, has developed a set of 4 minimal standards that have to be met in order to obtain insurance. All other insurers generally follow this standard, or employ a much more rigorous one. The “4 points” relate to the age and condition of the roof, electrical systems, plumbing (both supply and sanitary or outbound) and the HVAC system (heating, ventilation & air conditioning).
Having a recent 4-point certification is a very valuable asset in marketing your home! But in either case the homeowner should be evaluating and comfortable that these systems are operating as designed, within code and in many cases, that any improvements were permitted.
Most municipal codes generally require that you apply for a permit before any improvements or replacements are begun which effect any of the structural or mechanical aspects of the home. Permits are generally not required for decorative modifications, unless they effect changes to the structure or mechanics of the home.
A permit usually requires that the person doing the work be licensed, bonded & insured to work in that specialized trade. The permitting process includes a pre-inspection and approval of the scope of the work. Various inspections also occur throughout the different phases of the work and at the completion of the job. Finally, the contractor performing the work has to certify that all parties, including sub-contractors, have been paid for the work and that there is no possibility of any residual liens on the property, nor the owner.
Many people look at permitting as an unnecessary burden that the government is using to create revenue. Sometimes tradesmen may state that permitting will add to the overall cost of the project and that it may be an optional aspect of the job. This is never the case! Note that permitting is a relatively inexpensive addition to the cost of the job. It will objectively ensure that the work was completed satisfactorily to industry standards. And most importantly, that you won’t get stuck with an unexpected bill or lien if others involved in the job don’t get paid.
Another important aspect of permitting is that most insurance companies are no longer acknowledging repairs and upgrades without one.
Permitting also documents the value of the upgrade that you are making to the home, which will positively impact any future appraisal of the home. Researching permits can usually be accomplished online, and again can be very useful in marketing of the home.
The last portion of this step is to derive a score of the condition and features of the home. This includes rating the aesthetics of the home as well as any recent upgrades. We have developed a rating methodology which applies a weighted score to most impactful aspects of the home, and which can be used to compare the home condition to other competitive homes on the market. This rating system is called a selling score. Obtaining an 85% or above on this score usually indicates that your home will be seen as one of the best on the market!
The home scoring effort provides two major benefits in preparing your home for sale. The first is by pointing out the most essential deficiencies that need to be addressed which will provide the biggest “bang for your buck”. This allows the homeowner to focus on the essential issues without over-spending on items where you will not see a return on your investment.
Secondly, it is also an important tool in identifying the price point which you might expect to receive when listing your home for sale. You will have an significant edge to tune your marketing effort by having an index to rate other competitive homes on the market.