Buying An Existing Home

Dated: 11/06/2015

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Here are some tips when buying existing homes. Spend time assessing every home’s potential qualities of comfort, cost effectiveness, easy maintenance, and value.

  1. Research before Purchase

Check the thermal performance of the existing portions of the home you want to buy. Usually it is cast in brick, concrete, or stone. Improving thermal performance are based on the upgrades you choose. Consult an expert for this and be careful on choosing.

A home should be fit for your current climate

Identify your climate zone; the internet is a very good tool for research. Choose a home to work with rather than against your climate.

Put in mind that achieving thermal comfort with the lowest cost will work best. Passive heating and cooling is free of cost but upgrading an existing home to achieve better thermal comfort cost money, so check on your expenses too.

Affordable Dream Home

Plan home improvements well, which actually meet your own standards. Focus on affordability, flexibility, and comfort. Have a checklist on all costs of modifications, upgrades and additions. Also, assess the range of costs associated with:

  • repairs, maintenance and rectification

  • retrofitting sustainable features

  • minor renovations and upgrades

  • major renovations and additions.

  1. Home Inspections

Tour around an existing home in person and examine the whole space, layout, and structure. If given a chance, invite an expert to inspect with you to be sure that you can identify unforeseen instances by inexpensive buyers. A small investment in an expert advice at this stage can avoid years of expense and frustration.

Set up your wish list

Set expectations or a wish list of features you want in a home. Make sure to identify what your wants and needs are, focus on the priorities. If the necessities are done, you can now consider other features

These are features in an existing home are that are very important:

  • solar access for passive heating, solar hot water and rooftop power generation

  • access to cooling breezes

  • Accessibility to necessities (close to shops, schools, work and public transport).

Staying cool

A house well designed and thought of can adapt to deliver a sustainable lifestyle at relatively low cost. Extensions can be open for renovations or improvements. When renovating you can upgrade:

  • thermal comfort - alter or replace windows and glazing, add insulation or shading

  • energy efficiency  - substitute lighting and appliances to more sustainable choices

  • water efficiency – adapt green designs install efficient toilets, showerheads and taps, a rainwater tank and a garden with low water requirements.

Preliminary market research

  • Get professional advice.

  • Consider a place that fits your daily activities and easy access to places you want to go to.

  • Compare homes and reference it to your wish list.

  • Hire a real estate agent for proper advice.

Minimum passive heating and cooling requirements

  • consider active heating systems with solar collectors.

  • access to cooling breezes can be equally as important as access to sun, but good access to both is ideal.

  • solar access to windows and walls is undesirable but rooftop access is important for solar hot water and rooftop electricity generation.

Assessing thermal comfort

  • Seek advice from an accredited building sustainability assessor for each home on your short list.

  • compare the heating and cooling requirements for each home and what might be needed to improve them.

  • see how your family performs against an average household in your climate.

  • When looking for a home or planning a renovation, be aware of the relative cost–benefit of each of these retrofit options in your climate zone.


Termites tend to accumulate under the subfloor clearance with less ventilation and deteriorating physical barriers. In high risk areas, it is advisable to check records that these homes were inspected and certified during construction. Research the recent inspections of the home and check with the inspector who holds the record of the property.

  1. Short-listing homes

Create a short list of properties and compare it to your wish list or brief. Select which properties best meet your needs. If you are considering more properties as expected, Narrow your list to one or two properties and:

  • hire a designer or builder with sustainability expertise and have them attend your next inspection to identify problems

  • ask your expert to help you list and firm up your estimate of the cost of upgrading each property

  • Choose location over size. You can always add to your home but you can’t relocate it.

  1. Closing the deal

Factor everything out, make these costs known to the agent and vendor that you hire Prepare yourself to walk away if limitations are not adequately addressed in the purchase price.

Related Topics: Deciding Existing vs. New Construction

5 Steps For Buying a New Constructed Home

Checklist for First Time Home Buyers

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Rick Hogue

As the team leader for our group, my responsibility is to all of our clients to insure they are treated with respect and all of their needs are met. In addition I am the listing agent for the team hel....

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