Inefficiencies in Homes to Look For as a First Time Home Buyer

Thermal Image of the HouseWe bought our house almost a year ago, and moved in shortly thereafter. My fiance is a carpenter, so we spent longer in the home checking it out than most people likely would. He was going room to room, checking each nook and cranny for inefficiencies that might cost us a lot more money in the long run, and that we’d have to end up replacing from our own wallets.

After we left the house and made some notes, we had a home inspection appointment that my fiance insisted on attending. He pointed out some of his findings to the home inspector and paid attention to what he may have missed in our initial walk through.

We did some costing on the few inefficiencies that we did find to figure out exactly how much it would cost us when and if we did get the house.


We have a friend who bought a cute little cottage that he lives in full time in 2011, and, much to his chagrin, he found that when the winter came along, his heating bill was almost unaffordable.

He didn’t realize that single paned windows, which he had all over his house, were that inefficient. He was even cold when the heat was on and he was sitting near the window.

These single paned windows cost him thousands of dollars to replace, and while the replacement certainly brought his heating bill down (and undoubtedly also increased his property value), it still hurt his wallet.

We had two single paned windows in our home when we moved in, but the rest had been replaced by the previous owner.


Knowing the houses’ age, and a quick peek into an attic, will give you a good indication as to the quality and “r value” of the insulation that is currently in the house.

Older homes tend to have a lower “r value”, which manes that the insulation is less thick and therefore less efficient.

In fact, poorly insulated attics, walls, and floors can be one of the biggest inefficiencies in a home.

Insulation can be pretty cheap if you have to re-insulate your attic, but you don’t want to have to re-insulate your walls. This can costs thousands of dollars, as you have to remove the old drywall and replace the insulation, then replace the drywall.

Rain Screen

If you live anywhere with moisture – particularly lots of rain – you want to be very careful to buy a house that is already rain screened. The same goes for condos – if the condo does not have rain screen, it could cost you a lot of money after a few years.

Rain screen is a barrier that goes underneath the siding that looks sort of like a water proof paper, and prevents moisture and helps avoid leaks and rot.

Excess moisture in a home can create mould, which is very harmful for your health. Mould can ruin drywall, insulation, furniture, and fixtures and is very costly to abate. Mould is a home owner’s worst nightmare.

Rain screen is a newer technology so many older buildings won’t have it unless it has been added.

Depending on your siding and where you live, rain screen can be imperative.

Drafty Doors

One thing that we didn’t really think of when we first bought our house were the doors.

We have a door (our front door) that is clearly quite old, as it literally has a slot cut out of it for mail. There is only a tiny metal flap in front of the slot to keep the draft out.

Furthermore, it seems pretty hollow and it’s definitely thinner than the doors you can buy now.

We have a lot of doors to the outside in our house, so we do struggle with drafts from them. Doors can be an easy fix, but they aren’t cheap, so that is also something to factor into your renovation costs, if the house you are buying has old-fashioned, thin doors.

There are always things to look out for in a home as a first time buyer, but inefficiencies such as these will cost you a lot over a period of time.


Inefficiencies in Homes to Look For as a First Time Home Buyer — 5 Comments

  1. I’d never heard of a rain screen! Cold and damp are big concerns for me, having rented plenty of substandard properties and having a lot of allergies and respiratory issues.

    • I’m not sure if rainscreen is just a North American thing, but I sure hope not! NZ has similar weather to here in Vancouver, I think.

  2. Windows not being secure can be an expensive mistake! First time home owners should have inspectors carefully inspect all windows before giving approval.

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