The Money Pit You Call Home

Every time I hear the phrase “money pit” used in reference to a house, I can’t help but think back to the 1986 comedy starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. As the dream house they purchased ended up racking up increasing home repair/remodeling bills, we were treated to such sights as a bathtub falling through the floor, a roast turkey flying through the air due to a gas stove explosion, and someone calling Tom’s character a “duck fart”.

Good times! But despite the exaggeration for comic effect, having your home turn into a money pit is no laughing matter. Here are some things you can do to prevent your house from suffering that horrible fate.

Pay Attention To Your Home Inspector
The best way to avoid the money pit syndrome is to head it off right at the start; in other words, before you even purchase the house. If you’ve ever taken out a mortgage, you know that one of the steps is to have the home inspected. After all, the lending institution needs to protect its investment, and they want documented proof that the house will still be standing a year after the closing.

But it is very possible for a house to pass inspection but still be in line for some big repairs at some future time. That’s why you need to be present when the inspector goes through his or her paces, and listen for the dreaded phrase “This will need to be addressed somewhere down the line”.

For instance, an inspector could climb up on your roof, give it the once over, and come down and say “The roof looks okay, but you’ll probably need to replace it in the next five to seven years”. So yes, good news: your house passed inspection. Bad news is, you are on track for some expensive repairs somewhere down the line.

An Ounce Of Prevention …
What about those cases where the house passed inspection and there were no qualifiers or warnings? After all, sometimes a house can be in fine shape when first purchased, then eventually develop a series of expensive repairs and just like that, you have a money pit.

Well, much in the same way that you address your car’s minor problem before it becomes huge, or go to the doctor for that small thing before it becomes a full-blown medical condition, you need to keep an eye on certain elements of your house and stay on top of them before they become big, costly problems. Things like …

    • Mold. If you have areas of your house that are constantly moist, you have an ideal breeding ground for mold. And once mold takes root, your costs are going to rise. It’s best to head off mold problems by addressing leaks and wet spots ahead of time. Keep an eye (and nose) out for early signs of mold growth.
    • Windows. Make sure that you inspect your windows regularly, opening and closing each one to make sure there’s been no warping or other damage done to the frames, something which usually happens in the wake of a bad winter (like, for instance, the winter of 2014-2015, right?).
    • Gutters. Make sure that your gutters are providing adequate drainage, shunting the water away from your house. Otherwise, you may experience problems if water is pooling around your house’s foundation. Additionally, beware of ice dams in winter. They can not only ruin your gutters, they can also damage the roof and exterior, causing water to seep in.
    • The Cellar. Last but not least, here is where most of the magic happens. Think of it: in most homes, the cellar is where the furnace, water heater, HVAC systems, main plumbing and drains, and electrical systems are all located. Sometimes, home owners can go for days without ever setting foot in the cellar. What problems are developing down there that you’re not aware of?

Give things a good looking-over every so often. How is the furnace running? For that matter, when was the last time the furnace underwent routine maintenance? Are there any loose electric wires? How about mysterious puddles of water?

Time out for an aside: Considering how many times water has come up in the context of house damage, you may find yourself believing that water is the Number One enemy of your house. You would be right.

That should be enough to get you on the way towards total money pit prevention. If you want some more tips, then read “How to Keep Your Home From Turning Into a Money Pit” and get some more valuable info. Good luck, and stay dry!

About Author: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He still laughs at that movie, especially when the turkey flies through the air.

John Terra

John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. As a computer operator in the 80's, he made more than his share of mistakes.

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