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Old 01-23-2012, 10:11 PM   #16
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Great post - and great follow-up comments, everybody. And I've got a minor horror story I want to share with everyone.

My wife and I are currently living a home (2nd floor of a triple decker condo in Eastern MA) that is our second purchase, and boy have we learned a lot. First off, we had a terrific home inspector (if anyone needs the name of a hyper-detailed and conservative home inspector in the Boston area, let me know) who highlighted some not-so-terrific red flags. They weren't enough for us to not buy the home, but a red flag is a red flag. In hindsight, we shouldn't have bought the place.

In the 8+ months that we've lived here, we've uncovered a lot of shortcuts that were taken when the unit was redone some years ago. The guy who did it was a carpenter by trade, and really did some lovely woodwork in the place, enough to really up the value of the home and enough to make us put in an offer almost immediately, but he also did a lot of unpermitted work himself, which we're paying through the nose to repair.

We've found: outlet boxes that are coming out of the wall, illegal plumbing under sinks, and major problems with the vent stack in the bathroom.

The worst part is just too crazy: last summer, our neighbor below us was complaining that we were leaking from our bathroom. After some detective work by the plumbers, we decided that we needed to open up the wood-covered hot tub (a red flag was that the inspector couldn't open up the tub to look at the fixtures!), and see underneath the shower. When we finally did, we uncovered a slew of problems that were not visible to the inspector, and if we had, we wouldn't have bought the place. SO... an incorrect vent stack was used and was not placed high enough, tubing from the shower and bath were too skinny, and, to take the cake - there was no copper pan under the walk-in shower! So water was literally seeping through the grouting and through the joists under the shower and through our neighbor's ceiling. It was jaw-droppingly awful. Overall we ended up paying 5k to get the shower tiles taken apart from the waist below just so a copper pan could be put in place, mudded, and tiled up again.

Lesson: if it looks like some things are hard for the inspector to get to, it may be because some scary things are hidden. Watch those red flags - don't let your feelings for a new house get in the way of common sense!

We're renting next time...
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Old 07-15-2012, 06:43 PM   #17
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Here's another good tip. If you are going it alone (without an inspector - which I don't recommend), take a nail set or a moisture meter tester with you when you do the first walk-through of the property (before you even offer). When you look in the bathroom, finished basement, and the kitchen, carefully push the nail set or the tester in a questionable area to detect a possible moisture issue. Solid drywall should not crumble or be soft. If you find soft areas especially in a basement remodel (red-flag), the work was probably done wrong.

You don't have to be a negative Nancy with your realtor, but there is nothing wrong with being thorough before you make an offer. Save some inspection money up front by doing a pre-inspection. Don't rely on the inspector to root out every problem. If you find a solid contender that you want to make an offer on, then definitely line up your inspector. Know what to look for.

Basements: Moisture, mold, window egress rot, framing and foundation issues.
Attics: Insulation, water leaks, roof issues (how many layers?), water heaters, ducts, air flow for heating
Kitchens: GFCIs, dishwasher drains, crappy remodels (permit issues).
Bathrooms: same as kitchens (permit issues), moisture, mold, venting fan (decibel level and recycling ability)

If the house is advertised as completely re-modeled, be wary of flippers. Go over every inch of the remodel and get the permit approval copies.

Just a few tips from a person who watches a lot of Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:05 AM   #18
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Great piece of advice shadytrake and very useful thread as a whole. People should know where to look when buying a house, doing your homework really matters.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:15 AM   #19
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Buyer Beware! Knowing someone that took, passed and became a home inspector, I am not going to spend my money on one! This person while well meaning, and a good person knows nothing about homes. But they are a licensed home inspector.

Moving to FL I do not know anything about Concrete Block Stucco construction, so I asked a real estate agent acquaintance to recommend an inspector. He told me while he always recommends an inspection, to his buyers, he never pays for one for property he is buying as it is a waste of money!

I am sure there are competent inspectors out there, but just because they are licensed does not mean they know anything!

In the meantime I met a contractor who seems competent, he is also a long term Florida resident, so I paid him to go over a house for me. I feel much better about our (I did it with him) inspection than some yahoo that took a 90 day inspector course!

So how does one find a knowledgeable competent inspector? JIm
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:22 AM   #20
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


This is great! Being in the process of searching for my first home, it gave me the idea to find a home inspection checklist to take with me on my visits to houses prior to a home inspector. I'm not certified but it will help me understand what I should look for and notice things I normally overlooked but someone else has pointed out. Thanks! Keep it going, any tips for a first time buyer are welcomed!


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Old 03-31-2014, 06:48 AM   #21
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Finding a competent inspector is difficult. I bought a 25 year old house last year with the original roof on it. The owner has an inspection report that says the roof has three years life left in it. I can see water stains in the attic and holes in the roof! I am in the attic and I can see daylight through the roof.

But he has an inspection report that says the roof has 3 years left and does not want to negotiate. I did not want to pay for an inspection, but I need an licensed inspector to say the roof has holes in it.

I found a decent inspector through my insurance agent. In FL agents deal with many inspectors and may be able to guide you to a good one??

Question the inspector and make sure they have a construction back ground.
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:03 AM   #22
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Thanks. My realtor happens to be a family friend, which means the trust level is higher with them than someone else. I'm going to see who she recommends but I'll also do my own research into the inspector.


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Old 04-10-2014, 07:30 PM   #23
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How to avoid surprises when buying a house


Quote:
Originally Posted by gmwilkes View Post
This is great! Being in the process of searching for my first home, it gave me the idea to find a home inspection checklist to take with me on my visits to houses prior to a home inspector. I'm not certified but it will help me understand what I should look for and notice things I normally overlooked but someone else has pointed out. Thanks! Keep it going, any tips for a first time buyer are welcomed!
Excellent idea. I'm in the same boat and an inspection checklist is definitely getting made after reading this thread.
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