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Max Ortoli & Nikki Lobello
Sales Representatives

Homelife Romano Realty Ltd.
Independently owned and operated.

Max Ortoli & Nikki Lobello Sales Representatives

Homelife Romano Realty Ltd. Brokerage

Independently owned and operated

3500 Dufferin St., Suite 101, Toronto Ontario, M3K 1N2

Direct: 416-970-0352

Phone: 416-635-1232

Fax: 416-636-0246

Bare Bones: Forget the Finishes, Focus on Structure!

November 11, 2019 - Updated: November 11, 2019


On the one hand, there is a tendency for many to focus on finding a turn-key property with modern finishes and, on the other hand, for others to get overwhelmed in the amount of work required to bring the home to a contemporary aesthetic. Each poses its own set of opportunities and threats (or weaknesses). Many buyers focus far too much on superficial factors. They tend to pay attention to features like granite counters, intricate cabinetry, and stainless steel appliances, that often draw a your gaze away from problems or the fact that the home may be in a bad location, and end up passing over homes that have been very well-maintained, are in a great location, but have not been updated in years. Avoid getting distracted by the ostentatious details and ignore the actual quality of a home. Factors, such as the physical structure of the home as opposed to cosmetic delights deserve attention.


  1. Location! Location! Location! You may be more willing to make compromises about features of the home if you love the neighbourhood and your neighbours. You can change, alter, or update features of the structure, but you cannot change the location of your home. Consider the property’s proximity to your work, the slope and grade of the parcel, traffic, as well as access to transportation networks, parks, hospitals, fire departments, shopping, schools, and public transportation.
  2. Which side of the street does the house front? This can create a home that is full of light and warmth and one that is depressingly dark. In a country that experiences colder winter months than warmer summer months, like Canada, you may be of the type to turn your green thumb inwards, but where there is a lack of light, these plants can end up dying. The sun will also impact a particular part of the home depending on the side of the street the house is situated. For example, a roof of the house that fronts on the southern portion of a street may wear out and begin to curl than other faster than other parts of the roof.
  3. Do not be alarmed by the colour of the paint as soon as you step inside the home. Instead, you should focus on items pertaining to the structural and functional aspects. Having the home painted is one of the simplest solutions to perform that will alter the characteristic of the home once you move in.
  4. Is the home structurally sound? Look for cracks around where additions abut the existing structure, door frames, and windows. You’re looking for issues now that can lead to serious problems like water penetration later down the road. Hairline cracks in the mortar between concrete blocks are less of a concern that the following: Cracks at L-shaped sections, such as where a foundation follows a hillside, are probably shrinkage cracks. These are not a significant structure issue, but you should consider filling them in order to keep the interior of the home dry. Cracks in the masonry joints at the stairs should be looked into further. If the wall is bulging or the crack is wider than a quarter of an inch it can lead to a serious problem. For instance, exterior moisture may exert pressure on that a particular portion of the wall. Horizontal cracks are paramount. It may be that that the expansion of soil outside of the home due to water saturation pushes against and breaches the foundation.
  5. Trust your nose. In addition to flaking plaster and water stains on the walls or ceilings, the air will smell like mould. Be careful because a recent paint job may hide this type of defect. Also make note of odours relating to pets, smoking, sewage, and gas.
  6. Do not be fooled by the well-placed furniture in a home that is staged. Cleverly hanged mirrors, strategic lighting, inviting aromas, cozy living spaces, and fresh paint are all tactics that sellers and their representatives use to make their home more appealing to prospective buyers. This creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere that leads you to envision yourself in, but you should remain vigilant ad objective. If the furnishings suit your tastes, take photos and ask the homeowner or the listing agent what items can be included in the offer.
  7. Does the home feel abnormally cold? Know the age of the home. Older homes with original furnishings may also mean that the heating and cooling systems will need attention. These systems can be expensive to fix and replace, and inefficient ones can eat away at your utility bills. Make sure the furnace and air conditioner are up to date and in good repair. The temperature of the home may also signify that the attic and walls are not well-insulated.
  8. What is the current state of the windows and window frames? Do cracks appear on the interior or exterior portions of the window frames? When looking at wooden window frames, if you can easily push your finger into the frame, it is a sign that the wood is rotten. If there is condensation between double-glazed window-panes it means that they are the seal has been broken and are faulty.
  9. How old is the roof? Before you ever set foot inside, take a look at what is happening on top of the structure. At times, you may have the best view of the roof from standing in the middle of the residential street. Doe the roof shingles look relatively new and in tact? Is the actual roof sturdy or is it caving in? Likewise, a roof made of an especially sturdy material is better equipped to defend against wind and hail (and can save you from a potential claim).

Replacing a roof is an expensive proposition. Typically, roofs have a life expectancy of only fifteen to twenty years, depending on the material. Metal or aluminum roofs are equipped to defend against heavy wind and storms. These types of materials come a greater cost up front, but have a life expectancy of close to fifty years. If the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, like many modern condo-stacked townhouse developments, inspect the material used, the material with which it sealed.

For homeowners of condo-stacked townhouses that have a rooftop terrace, check to see if the roof is properly sealed where it enjoins the rest of the structure and any point of egress and ingress. A membrane can be used and more optimal than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed.

  1. What type of and condition is the electrical system? Does the home have knob-and-tube? Most often, existing knob-and-tube systems lack the capacity for modern levels of power use. There are further disadvantages to knob-and-tube
    1. Firstly, it has no third wire ground conductor to protect the homeowner in the event of an internal fault when an appliance or device is plugged into a receptacle.
    2. Secondly, the wires and receptacles are not polarized. Unpolarized receptacles can be very inconvenient since polarized plugs will not even fit into them.
    3. As time goes on, the rubberized cloth insulation may decay with mold, dry out, fracture, and potentially expose people to hot electrified wires.

Take a look at the electrical panel and see whether it has fuses or breakers. The electrical panel is generally an indication of the state of wiring in the home. Your home insurance provider may ask you to upgrade the fuses to a breaker panel.

  1. Is the plumbing sufficient? Check all the faucets in the home and, most notably, visit each bathroom and run the taps, shower, and flush the toilet simultaneously to check the water pressure. Ensure that the pipes are not constructed with lead and that Kitec piping has not been used. Kitec pipes have been known to corrode from the inside-out and burst. Moreover, ask for the age and capacity of the water heater. The water heater should also be large enough to accommodate the number of appliances and systems that are connected for water consumption.
  2. Is the property adequately sound-proofed? If your home is abutting an adjacent home through a party wall, such as in semi-detached and townhomes, check whether sound bleeds from your neighbour’s residence into your home.
  3. What’s going on in the attic? People often ignore this part of the home, but it is a crucial aspect. How easy is it to access? Is there any storage space? Could it be converted into extra rooms? Is there sufficient insulation and proper ventilation? Well-insulated and ventilated attics can make a huge difference to your bills and general comfort in winter.

Most significantly, include the condition of a home inspection. Once you have viewed the property with your real estate broker or sales representative, you should enlist the services of a reputable and professional home inspector to ensure all of the above and more. Home inspectors can even check for lead paint, wood-eating pests, and the presence of asbestos. Some defects will be obvious upon first inspection, known as patent defects; whereas, others may not be visible – known as latent defects. Knowing the presence of problems in the home can increase your purchasing power in negotiations and it will prepare you with the necessary repair costs the are anticipated in the near- and long-term.


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