Uncommon Things to consider while House Hunting

house huntingLast week I wrote about my home related projects and how I will have to pay over $3,000 to replace a retaining wall in my property.  This got me to thinking, if I knew then what I know now would I have passed on this house?  To be honest, I didn’t consider this when I was in the market to buy.  I mean, who’s thinking about retaining walls when they’re house hunting?

If you’re buying a fixer upper, like I did, you probably expect to be making the typical updates, remodeling the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring.  However, as a first time homeowner there were many things I did not consider and I want to tell you about them.

Garage Door Openers/Locks

We have a two car garage.  One garage door had an electronic garage door opener and the other one did not.  There was also no working lock on the door and no remote control to open the door because the previous owner lost the keys and the remote. So, we called the experts to come take a look at it.  The lock was $85. The remotes $45 x 2 = $90.  The service call was $65.  Total Cost + Tax = $256.

A few weeks after moving in the electronic garage door opener stopped working.  We’re not sure what’s wrong with it but I didn’t bother calling the garage door company since they will charge us a service call fee of $65. The guy had also given me an estimate on the cost of a new garage door opener for the second door of $450.  So if the one we have is busted that means we would be paying approximately $900 for two new electronic garage door openers. This is not a priority so for now we manually open the doors.

In the end, we will probably end up spending a lot more if we want those garage doors working properly. Last summer I busted one of the doors when I got distracted and left my car in drive and it slammed right into the door!  Ugh…It was such a clumsy move on my part and I was so upset!  Luckily no further damage was caused but the door is bent in several places and who knows how much that will cost to replace. Have you ever replaced a garage door? How much did it cost you?

Concrete Slabs

We replaced the concrete on the side and front of the house because it was old and because it was trapping water too close to the house.  That cost  was $2,000.  Oh and now we have to replace the concrete in the back of the house next to the retaining wall.  That will cost $3,100.


We replaced the steps leading to the basement because they were covered with carpet and the previous owner had a cat.  My husband is allergic to cats.  Also, we don’t like carpets so cleaning them and keeping them was not an option.  When we took the carpets out the limestone underneath was very nice unfortunately, the previous owner had used some glue or something sticky that forced us to have to replace the whole thing.  Total cost was about $1,000.

But it doesn’t end there.  Look at the front steps of the home you’re considering. We didn’t have to replace ours, thank goodness, but they can be costly.  My contractor estimates about $3,000 to $10,000 depending on how high they are.

House Doors

As I mentioned previously we need a new front door.  After we replaced the floor in the foyer the old door ended up with a pretty big gap on the bottom.  Our contractor added a piece of wood to the bottom and we use a door draft guard but it still is not enough.  Plus the door is old and has other issues, we discovered after moving in, that allows heat to escape and cold air to get in the house.  It has to go.  That will cost about $1,000 (I hope).

The kitchen door leading to the basement had to be replaced immediately after we installed new flooring. The old flooring had been installed one on top of another by previous owners and because no one ever did the job properly the floor in the kitchen was about 1 inch higher than the rest of the house.  It created a trip hazard.  We have three more doors to replace for other issues.  Door cost about $35 x 4 = $140. Oh and doors don’t come with door knobs.  That’s another $10 each.

French Draining

Have you ever heard of interior French Draining?  This is how many people waterproof their basements. It’s a system that intercepts water as it enters your basement and a Sump Pump then pumps the water out. Installing this system will cost you about $3,500 to $4,000.  Our house has a draining system already but we recently had to replace our sump pump. Total Cost = $750

Other Stuff to Consider

This past weekend I was reading a list J. Money put together over at BudgetsAreSexy.com a couple years ago about stuff new homeowners never think about.  It’s a good list to check out as, in my own house, I had to replace 5 out of the 9 items he listed.

I’ve been a homeowner for almost 2 years now.  I would say many days I love being one because of the comforts we have but some days not so much, especially when another high cost repair comes to light. There is definitely a lot more to consider than just the mortgage payment and interest rates when you decide to become a homeowner.

 Is there any other surprise expense or uncommon item you would add to this list?

Photo by: Flickr


Uncommon Things to consider while House Hunting — 22 Comments

  1. Yeah, house hunting/buying/owning can be crazy some times. I’m glad you’re sharing some of this stuff cuz you’re right – hardly anyone thinks of all the stuff that can go wrong/needs replaced when shopping around! Thanks for the shout too – hopefully your repairing ends here shortly 🙂

    • I’m hoping they will come to an end shortly too. Many of the big things are behind us so that is nice. Our mortgage and interest rate is low so no real worries there.

  2. Our garage door coils broke and because our garage door is heavy it cost close to $500 to replace them. We also had quite the fiasco with our sewer drain-out needing a huge repair that would have cost us about $3,000, but thankfully our contractor proved it was the city’s contractor’s fault and we got it done for free (plus all the related plumbing bills paid for). I second everything else you’ve said, and the sump pump is a huge project that thankfully we already had from the previous owner. Houses seem to bleed money but there’s nothing quite like owning your own home.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Dirty Little Secret of How People Make Money BloggingMy Profile

    • That was a great save from your contractor. It’s so nice when things work out that way. Yeah there are many things I enjoy now that I’m a homeowner. I’ve just taken a big hit up front so that is a bummer on the savings account.

  3. Our garage door was from 1985 and never replaced, and of course a month after moving it, it failed. I am fortunate, though, that I have a hubby who likes a DIY challenge, so he went to youtube. Found a bunch of videos on installing a new garage door opener, and did it himself without any help from me actually. I am going to blog one of these days about DIY projects, but a great source for hubby is youtube. We have saved so much money by watching videos online.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Brown Eyed GirlMy Profile

    • I love YouTube. I actually learned how to crochet and knit from youtube. It’s a great resource!

  4. I wish I had known about some of these before we bought our house. Our crawl space wasn’t water proofed, didn’t have a pump, was nothing but dirt. That was a huge pain in the ass. I’m just thankful we didn’t have to replace any of the concrete slabs. I didn’t even think about it. I’m a big DIY-er but I don’t think I could have handled that.
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…do money and family mix?My Profile

    • We have a contractor that does all this work for us. We are not DIYers especially for concrete stuff. I can paint and install closet organizers, small stuff like that but not anything requires mixing concrete. Yeah the waterproofing is a problem if you want to use your basements. My sister had to install one in her house that’s how I know about the costs and what’s involved.

  5. wow, i would have never considered any of that stuff! we are also looking at a fixer upper and I’m lucky that my husband knows how to do a lot of construction stuff. plus with a firefighter schedule he has a lot of days to work on stuff around the house. still, good point in having lots of extra money –i guess thats why they have a two month’s liquid cash requirement once you sign your loan!

    • You will save a lot of money by doing some of the things yourself especially if you have the skills as labor costs are expensive.

  6. Why is it so expensive there. Even the service for the garage door offers a service fee from a phone call. Don’t they have a warranty if their first job have issues or even a discount when working with more than one door. Now buying a fixer upper then improving it before selling it again can make money but with prices like that. Im not so sure. How to retire a millionaire if you cant make money.
    Jeff @Project Ikonz recently posted…Retirement plans for dummies – Step 3 – BitesizeMy Profile

    • The Garage Door company only charges a fee if they come out to the house to inspect the issue. The first job they did for us was fine. We don’t have issues with the lock they installed. We are having issues with the electronic door opener which they do not service for us. Yeah, flipping houses can be lucrative but that also depends on the housing market in your area.

    • That is a valid concern. There are things that the inspector will not focus on that can affect your renovation budget in a big way. Also, many things will pass inspection because they are adequate but they may not be how you would want them to be. So, my advice would be to bring a contractor with you.

  7. If you want to move into an older, desirable, established area, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and risk buying a home that may require a lot of work. The trade off is you get to live in an area you love, versus buying a new home in suburbia and commuting 4 hours a day.

    • This is true. Homes with all the upgrades we made were selling for a lot more. The tradeoff for us was doing the upgrades to our taste and also we are not stuck with a huge mortgage for 30 years.

  8. Our 150 year old house had no storms so my husband bought and had aluminum storms and screens installed. They are a pain in the *** to clean. and eventually the screen corrodes. Buy double hung vinyl inserts even if you can only afford one at a time.
    Refinishing floors yourself is not a huge job (if you’re under 40).