What questions should I ask when shopping for a new house?
Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or you've done this all before, there's a lot to think about when you're hunting for a new home — and you probably have hundreds of questions bouncing around in your head… Is it in a safe, friendly neighbourhood? Does it have a secure backyard where my dogs can run free? And how far away is the nearest grocery store?
But have you thought about how different parts of the house itself could impact the cost of your home insurance, and even your eligibility for coverage? While you're picturing life in a new home, don't forget to ask some important questions about the house:
- When was it built? New homes are built based on current standards and bylaws, meaning they should cost less to repair or rebuild than older homes that need to be updated after damage occurs — and most new builds come with some type of warranty. Because of this, many insurers offer discounts on newer homes.
- How is it heated? Oil furnaces and wood and pellet stoves are three of the riskiest ways to heat your home, and because of this risk, using them can impact the cost of your home insurance and even your eligibility for coverage. An electric or gas furnace, on the other hand, could be safer to use and might help lower your premium. Ask how the house is heated and talk to your licensed insurance broker to find out how the heat source could impact your insurance coverage.
- How close is it to a fire station or fire hydrant? The closer your home is to a fire hall or fire hydrant, the quicker it could be saved in the event of a fire — so the damage would likely cost less to repair than it would if your local fire crew had to drive a farther distance to get there. If there's a fire hall nearby or a hydrant right next door, the cost of your home insurance could be lower.
- When was the roof last replaced, and with what kind of material? If the roof looks like it's seen better days, keep in mind that it could require replacing sooner rather than later — and it could also result in a higher home insurance premium. But did you know that certain roofing materials (like concrete or slate tile, for example) could qualify you for an insurance discount, depending on your home's location? Talk to your broker to learn more.
- How is it wired? Knob-and-tube or 60-amp electrical systems, often found in older homes, tend to be considered more risky than newer systems because they can overheat and increase your chances of an electrical fire. To save on home insurance (and avoid a pricey upgrade in the near future), consider looking for a home with an electrical system with at least 100 amps and modern wiring.
- What does the plumbing look like? Pipes made from galvanized steel can rust and corrode over time, possibly causing clogged water lines, poor water pressure, and water damage — and they can even release lead into your drinking water. Copper pipes and newer plastic pipes are more durable and less prone to corrosion and leakage, meaning they're less likely to cause water damage. Before you dive into a new home purchase, find out what the plumbing is made of and ask your broker how the pipes could impact your insurance.
- Does it have a backwater valve and a sump pump? Backwater valves and sump pumps can both help prevent flooding in your home. While many newer homes will come with both systems already built-in, it's worth finding out what flood-prevention devices are in place (and what shape they're in) before you take the plunge. In addition to helping you avoid costly and inconvenient water damage, having a working backwater valve or sump pump could qualify you for a discount on home insurance, too.
A new home is a big investment, so be sure to do your research and ask questions that could save you time and money in the long run. To learn how to save even more on home insurance, consider these 10 helpful tips, check out our list of the top 10 home insurance discounts, or reach out to your group’s broker to ask how the construction of your dream home could impact your insurance.
If you're planning on staying put and making some improvements to your own home, learn what kind of home improvements can help reduce the cost of your insurance.
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