You have been cleaning for a week (or more) You’ve ensured that everything is painted, stain free and the house smells great. You finally got around to making all of this little repairs you had been putting off for months (years?) and spent an afternoon weeding and mowing the lawn. You’ve staged your home according to the advice in the many blogs and glossy magazine articles you took the time to read and, with the ‘For Sale’ sign planted firmly in the front yard your home for sale is ready for its close up and to welcome the first would be home buyers. Or is it? If your home has an attic, maybe not.
The Overlooked Attic Issue
Most homes have an attic, and in most homes it is a space that is very rarely visited, especially if the house has an easier to access basement, which again, many do. In fact, for many homeowners, years can pass without them actually visiting the attic themselves because they simply have no reason to.
If you are selling your Waterloo Region home failing to check the attic – and check it thoroughly – before your real estate agent starts to show it -can be a big mistake, as the fact is that there may be all kinds of things lurking up there that could derail a final sale.
What should you be on the lookout for? Here’s a little about common problems that may be quietly festering above your head:
It’s fairly common for attics to suffer from at least some water damage over time. Roofing materials do not last forever, and if a roof is aging or improperly insulated water can often find its way in. Even a small amount of water accumulation can cause significant damage over time. It may cause wood to rot, inviting pests. Or, it may cause a mould and mildew problem. Water can also be problematic – and dangerous – in areas where there is wiring.
Check your attic frequently for wet or water-stained wood. If you do find wet wood, try to identify the source and fix the problem, preferably with the help of a reputable water damage restoration company.
Most homes will have a pest invasion of some sort over time, especially older homes. Common pests include mice, rats, squirrels, carpenter ants, and termites. All of these pests can damage your home.
Mice, rats, squirrels and even larger pests like raccons can enter your home from the outside through small openings in your siding or roof. This usually happens in the late fall or early winter, when these animals are looking for shelter from the cold temperatures (though some animals will use your house year-round). Once inside, these pests will forage for food and water, often chewing through whatever is in their way, which may include electrical wires. They will also look for a quiet place to make a nest — attics are the perfect place.
There are several ways to tell if you have these furry pests in your house. One indicator is the presence of dark black or brown rice-shaped pellets near food sources, along the edge of walls, or in the attic itself. Another indicator is a scratching sound in walls or ceilings. If you notice any of these signs, you should take action immediately. The longer you delay, the higher the chance these animals will reproduce. A small problem can quickly turn into a large infestation.
You’ll need to identify where the animals are and set traps. Snap traps are usually the cheapest and easiest to use, however, there are also traps that will trap the animal so that you can humanely release it outside (far away from your home). To prevent pests from re-entering, you’ll want to inspect your home’s exterior and seal up any small holes you find.
Carpenter ants and termites are two more pests that can cause serious structural damage to a home if not dealt with immediately. Carpenter ants tunnel through wood to make a nest, while termites actually consume the wood. Both are attracted to wet and rotting wood. If you find that you are dealing with a carpenter ant or termite infestation, it’s best to call a professional as both pests can be difficult to get rid of on your own.
A simple visual inspection may be enough to root out these problems, but if you do not make a habit of checking your attic space on a regular basis you may want to call in a home inspector before your home goes on the market, especially as the attic is one of the first place a buyer’s inspector will head if they order one prior to a closing, and anything bad they find may derail the whole deal.