Retiring with parents, Fixing furnace before closing


Dear David,

We’re building a retirement bungalow in our hometown. It’s 1600 square feet with a finished basement, so we’ll have lots of room. I want my 79-year-old dad to move in with us, but he lives completely independently and seems reluctant. – DOTING DAUGHTER

DEAR DAUGHTER: The opportunity to build a “made to measure” retirement bungalow is fantastic, since you can easily make accommodations to suit your changing lifestyle. I’ve seen many floorplans tweaked to allow for an adequately sized second bedroom (for guests or Dad) and a beefed-up adjoining four-piece bath (rather than a standard two-piece). Many new builds can also be equipped with mobility-enhancing features, such as flush entryways and wider staircases.  

PRO TIP: Aging in place is an ideal retirement scenario; having the space to offer your Dad a suite of his own is where many families would like to be. That said, the new dynamic could take some getting used to. It’s been nearly 60 years since your Dad lived under someone else’s roof, and as an independent man, he’s used to having his own life. This won’t be the time to enforce a curfew, as he did for you way back when.

Dear David,

We sold our house a while ago and it closes in 30 days. Our furnace stopped working this weekend. The service technician found a crack in the heat exchanger. What are our options? – COLD FRONT

DEAR COLD: Believe it or not, it’s lucky that you discovered this problem. A cracked heat exchanger can leak deadly carbon monoxide into your home. Typically, a crack of this nature triggers a failsafe switch that will shut the furnace down.

Heat exchanger replacement tends to be very expensive and labour intensive. Before you do anything, check whether the part is under warranty. My furnace developed this issue at 18 years old; because the heat exchanger had a 20-year warranty, we only paid for labour to replace it. Had the part not been under warranty, it would have made more sense to replace the furnace.

If you don’t have a warranty to fall back on, get estimates for furnace repair and replacement. Next, call your Realtor and have them connect with the buyer’s agent. The buyer can choose whether they would like you to repair or replace the furnace, depending on their budget. For example, if the repair is going to cost $1100 and a new furnace would be $3500, the buyers may decide to kick in the $2400 difference to get a new furnace, rather than the old furnace with a new heat exchanger.

PRO TIP: You have no option but to fix this problem and time is of the essence. Your home needs to be habitable at closing, and it’s not habitable without a furnace. Plus, resolving the issue is the right thing to do.  #AskDavid #Advice