Cape Group Home Page
Our Mission Statement
Search Cape Cod MLS
Search the Off Cape MLS
Real Estate in the US
REindex.com, The Site Engine®
Mass Real Estate Agent
Web Sites where they work.
Heath Coker's Blog
Free Property Value Estimator
Falmouth Elementary Districts
Why do business with
Robert Paul Properties?
Consumer Fact Sheet
What We Are
Who We Are
Falmouth Zoning Map (PDF)
Where We Are
Real Estate Terms
Septic System Information
Coker Family Page
(Click here for email) OR
39 Judy Ann Dr, East Falmouth.
MA. 02536 USA
Tel:(508) 548 8888
It's a beautiful day on Cape Cod!
The Cape Group is now a part of
Robert Paul Properties.
Cape Group Home Page
Nancy Coker Helin
On the house above, click on any of the house parts or words to discover what you should be looking for -- and what to stay away from.
Certainly, hire an experienced home inspector to check out your prospective home before you close. They are the professionals. However, it will ultimately be up to you to make the final "go" or "no go" decision. You should have as much understanding and information as possible. Don't expect any house to be perfect. PRIORITIZE! Be realistic. Be reasonable. Be CAREFUL!
Septic System: See our Page on Sewer/Septic Systems. Expect that the Seller will provide you with a Certificate at or prior to closing showing that the system complies with current Title V regulations
Caveat: Watch out for expensive, high-maintenance systems.
Roof: Typical roofing material in New England asphalt. There are also asphalt, tile, and other materials. Flashing, typically made of lead is used to seat spaces between roof areas and protrusions (vent pipes, chimneys, etc.)
Caveat: Beware of roofs less than "eight pitch". The lower the number, the flatter it is. Snow and other moisture tends to accumulate on flat or flatter roofs. Also, watch out for multi-pie roof layers. Often, the actual wood roof is deteriorated under the layers. This must be checked carefully. Tile roofs are long lasting, but are very expensive to repair. Assume that the life expectancy of a modern-style roof is from 18 to 23 years.
Chimney and Fireplace: Of course, check for leaks through roof areas (flashing). Check for stable foundation. Check integrity of bricks or blocks. All fireplaces should have flues. These should be examined by a professional to determine their condition and effectiveness. Of course, you need to check flues, fireboxes, etc. Make sure that the installation is legal, and conforms with all building and fire codes.
Caveat: Beware of amateur installations. They are quite often sub-standard. Also, watch out for cheap "Heat-o-lator" style fireplaces. Though these are generally quite energy efficient, they tend to rust and corrode rather quickly.
Heat: The two most prevalent types of heat on Cape Cod is gas and oil. Each have their distinct advantages. Basically, oil has been cheaper "per BTU". However, gas is cleaner, and more efficient.
Caveat: Beware of Electric Heat. It can be a KILLER! The costs are sometimes astronomical when part of a year 'round house. An upgrade from electric to gas or oil is usually the best solution. Also, beware of propane heat. It is also considerably more expensive.
Electrical: Electric service runs typically from 60 to 200 amps. Do NOT assume that because there is a large fuse box, with breakers, that the service is 100 amp. or more. The service is actually the feed that comes from the pole or underground box to the house. Many real estate agents are not aware of this.
Caveat: Try to avoid houses that have the old-fashioned circuit breakers. They are indicative of oler service, no ground bus, etc. Beware...electrical upgrades, especially in the house itself, can be quite expensive. It is "intrusive", and requires removal of walls, etc. If you buy an old house, budget this into the cost!
Cosmetics and interior: Yeah... it is difficult, but this is the part of the house that is the least important. Paint, paper, flooring, kitchen layout & condition, plaster/drywall, etc. are things that can usually be improved fairly economically and painlessly.
Caveat: Beware of falling in love with the cosmetics of a home. It's only skin deep! But...on the other hand...be suspicious about a house that just looks crummy! Usually, this reflects a general lack of interest and pride (or an uneducated or uninformed owner) in the home, and could indicate that the house has not been maintained properly. COULD BE A RED FLAG!
Insulation: Insulation is a must here in New England, if you plan to use your home year 'round. Check for insulation in roof, walls, and basement areas. Under-insulated homes are tremendously expensive to maintain...it will make you broke!
Caveat: Check for U.F.F.I. (urea formaldehyde foam insulation). This is is a health hazard. It generally must be removed at a very high cost. Beware of an over-insulated home. Sounds weird, but too much insulation will keep air from circulating through the frame and interior of the house. This is a very unhealthy condition, and may cause maintenance problems.
Siding: Expect to see either shingles or clapboard on most New England homes This in the material of choice...and for good reason. The wood is white or red cedar, and has a natural preservative. It "ages" naturally, and usually has a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years. Periodic application of a "de-molding" solution is sometimes indicated due to the high moisture in this area. Expect clapboards to be stained. Maintenance is about every three years.
Caveat: Watch out far "painted" shingles and clapboards. This will generally require additional maintenance. Beware of Asbestos shingles. These are easily identified by a home inspection. Be especially careful about vinyl or aluminum siding over wood. If not prepared properly, this could be a situation whereas there is untreated rot that is very difficult to remediate.
Grading: Grading is often overlooked as a very serious issue with older, or newer, homes. Improper grading can cause a myriad of problems...some of them very difficult to rectify. The bottom line is...always look for grade to slop AWAY from the foundation!
Caveat: Be especially careful with garage-under situations. They are quite often areas where water tends to collect. Drywells are often placed in strategic points, but are sometimes ineffective in remediating the problem. During your home inspection, ask the inspector to give you a full analysis of the grading situation!
Doors: If possible, all exterior doors should be insulated steel for weather and security. Wood exterior doors are aesthetically pleasing, but are often poor insulators. Watch out for bad fits in both exterior and interior doors. This may indicate framing problems.
Caveat: People seem love love solid wood pine interior doors (usually six-panel). They are pretty, but are prone to swelling and shrinking due to the high moisture in our area. Synthetic doors art much more practical.
Water: Check out whether there are any ground-water problems within the areas of the home. Of course, you should ascertain whether the house is on "town" water or well water. Even if on town water, subterranean problems need to be examined, addressed and factored into your decision to own this property.
Caveat: Do diligent research...especially in areas that are known to be affected. Watch out for the infamous "plumes". Get a map. Talk to the source!
Windows: Often overlooked the placement, age and quality of windows is critical in not only providing light and air circulation in a home, but also in retaining heat. A large percentage of heat loss in the average home is through the windows. Look for thermo-pane, or double-insulated windows whenever possible. Check sills and framing for water and weather damage. Window replacement can be very expensive. Take a good look here!
Caveat: Typically, older windows in homes may be the areas most likely to have lead-based paint. This should be thoroughly checked if it is of concern to you. Watch out for extraordinarily cheap thermo-pane windows in newer construction, These have been known to last only four or five years, and again are quite expensive to replace.
Foundation: You will see three basic types of foundations. Slab, "partial" or "crawl-space", or full. Be especially wary of "slab". In the New England area, there are often highly humid conditions and a large range for air and ground temperature. This can possible translate into a very high degree of condensation on concrete, and might cause interior moisture, ruin floors, or invite insects. And, of course, slab foundations or crawl spaces mean that you are deprived of storage areas, utility areas, and convenient laundry room. Slabs are also less desireable for resale. Expect basements to be somewhat moist in New England due to the same humidity already mentioned and due to natural condensation. Dehumidifiers are sometimes necessary, and should be installed in a way that provides minimal maintenance.
Caveat: Be suspect of any large cracks in a foundation. Though there is a good chance that these might be merely freeze/thaw cracks, they should be checked out and sealed. Watch out in "finished" basements when the foundation is not visible. There may be a problem hiding. Of course, New England is prone to termite infestation. Homes should be checked periodicaly, in the spring and summer especially, for termites and other wood-boring insects to protect your investment.
Gutters: Modern construction uses either vinyl or seamless aluminum. Often, it is recommended that storm drains be built in order to avoid excessive surface runoff and avoid erosion. These must be maintained periodically. Gutters and downspouts, properly installed and maintained, are critical in avoiding water damage and possible leakage in foundations.
Caveat: Though quite charming, wood gutters are a high-maintenance item on older homes. Maintenance is usually annual, and sometimes quite expensive. It is generally recommended that wood gutters be replaced.