House hunting can be a overwhelming process for anyone, but with a toddler and infant along as further opinion makers it can quickly wear down the most fervent home shoppers. Though Peanut and little Tex have been just as patient and spirited as you could ask. Peanut often asking in the mornings if she could "see houses with Mr. Tom" that day, and then exclaiming "nice yard" or "big house" when we pulled up to the next property. Tex -- well, most of the time he just slept as we carried him up and down staircases.
Going from the new housing developments of Texas to the older, wilder housing of New England has been a jolt. My punch list for homes has come to include such local particularities like:
- lead paint - if the house was built before 1978 (or in the years shortly thereafter when builders and stores still were depleting their paint supplies), there's a good chance its there
- mold - our inspector says 30 - 50% of homes here will have mold in the attic or basement. Some kinds can be re-mediated and your home certified "mold free".
- septic systems - for houses not on public sewer (which btw limit the use of garbage disposals)
- basements and sump pumps - basements are expected here. Some are finished (ie, just like upstairs living space), some half-finished (maybe have a floor and some wall panels) and others are just concrete
- capes (see top photo), colonials (second photo), split-levels (third photo) and ranches - the main housing styles
- well water - for houses not on the public water system
- radon - a cancer-causing radioactive, invisible gas emitted by the granite in the ground. Radon tests are done for air and water. If high levels are found, you can install a radon mitigation system.
- oil vs. propane vs. natural gas vs. forced air vs. electric heating - oh, the options! Electric is expensive, natural gas requires access to a city gas line, propane & oil are delivered to a special holding tank at your home and forced air is what I'm accustomed to. On the cooling front - most homes we saw don't have central A/C and rely on window units given....
- 110 v. 220 circuit breakers - your home has at least 220
- how to count parking spaces - many homes don't have attached garages or they just have one. A surprise considering the snowy winters when I'd imagine EVERYONE would want a garage. House listings describe parking by counting how many cars fit side-by-side in the driveway in front of the house or just offer off-street parking.
- noise pollution - after the first few days out we learned to look up addresses on the map to check for proximity to major interstates, highways, railroad tracks and busy thoroughfares since older housing is not in subdivisions built away from traffic.