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Old 03-27-2014, 09:54 AM   #1
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Just did my own home inspection..found a few things.


I have a contract signed on a house I plan to buy and it is a very nice place in central Alabama. The house was built in 2009 and it's on about five acres.

We are very tight on money with the impending close, so instead of hiring out the inspection, I did it myself. I compiled a list from several different "do your own inspection" sites, and came up with my own ten pages. I was at the house about three hours last night. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed doing it myself. I could definitely do it for a living or a side job.

There are some things I noted that I wanted to ask about here.

1. The house has a gas log fire place, typical of the kinds you find in new construction. It is not a dedicated chimney or anything like what you would find in the old brick construction wood burning fireplaces. It appears to have never been used. There is no propane tank outside, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a lease and was picked up. The house has been sitting for about seven months. I did find these fittings in two places coming out of the house, and my best guess is that they're gas lines?



I also checked every outlet in the house with an outlet tester. Only one came up like this..reversed hot and neutral:



A further inspection of the main panel looked good. All wires are copper and nothing is over heating..per a temp gun. I did find this homemade double pole breaker..Although it works and apparently has been working for a while, I'm sure it really needs to be a dedicated double pole.



And last but not least, the water was not on. I did not know where the main cutoff was, and have since found out that it is near the main road. I could not really check for any plumbing leaks or function because of this. Also, the driveway is in pretty rough shape. It really needs to have gravel brought in and it needs to be worked. I knew this going in, and I was thinking that I would be doing it..but I discovered something. The neighbors warned me about how shallow the water line is that runs from the road to the house under the driveway, and told me to be careful when working the drive. As I was walking it yesterday looking for the main cutoff, I found an exposed piece of PVC. I assume this is the line, and what the neighbor was warning me about.

So obviously, the main line to the house is not deep enough, and could be busted or broken because of it being exposed and the extremely cold weather we've had this past winter down south. When I say exposed, I mean the top 20-30% of the pipe is peaking through the ground, in a section about two feet long.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I think my first step is calling the water company and getting them to come out and see if they can mark the line all the way from the road to the house. I understand this can only be done if a copper line is run beside the pipe, so there is something to detect. I will also turn the water on so I can check for leaks, not only in the drive but also in the house itself. After that, maybe negotiate with the sellers about fixing it. I know it will cost a good bit of money though to do it right, and I'm concerned that the sellers may not want to spend more money and it may blow the whole deal. I can do the work, but I am not paying for what it costs to rent the ditch digger and new pipe to run the whole length of the drive, which is about 1/4 mile long from the road to the house. It is a dirt road.

Any suggestions would be great. Thanks

Last edited by J S Machine; 03-27-2014 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:15 AM   #2
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I did find this homemade double pole breaker..Although it works and apparently has been working for a while, I'm sure it really needs to be a dedicated double pole.
That wire between the breakers is a homemade handle tie.

Do you know if it is being used for a 220 V appliance or is it being used for a Multi-Wire Branch Circuit (MWBC).

A MWBC are circuits sharing the same neutral and both should be shut off when working on either circuit.
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Last edited by hammerlane; 03-27-2014 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:38 AM   #3
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If I read the description on the panel right, it is going to the AC condensing unit for the one room upstairs. The house is a 1 and 1/2 story..just a small room upstairs. It has its own unit and this is the breaker than controls it.

I called the local water authority and got more info. The meter is definitely located at the main road at the beginning of the driveway. They said the water is still on, but showing zero consumption. This means that it is likely shut off at the meter. I guess I will turn it on to check for leaks in the drive between the meter and the house, and also inside the house.

I really wish there was a way to find out exactly where the line is in the drive though. The water company says that is not their responsibility.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:44 AM   #4
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It is hard to believe a house built in 2009 would get away with having a water line buried at the surface. Is this a slab house? Sitting vacant for 7 months and not a foreclosure would be a red flag to me. Go back to owners and tell them you want to water on or you are canceling the deal. Go to county court house and get records of the house blueprint site plans inspection, whatever they have. Is there a septic tank on site or city sewer?A 1/4 mile long sewer pipe would worry me unless house is sitting up hill.
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Old 03-27-2014, 11:32 AM   #5
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It is hard to believe a house built in 2009 would get away with having a water line buried at the surface. Is this a slab house? Sitting vacant for 7 months and not a foreclosure would be a red flag to me. Go back to owners and tell them you want to water on or you are canceling the deal. Go to county court house and get records of the house blueprint site plans inspection, whatever they have. Is there a septic tank on site or city sewer?A 1/4 mile long sewer pipe would worry me unless house is sitting up hill.
I'm thinking the water line running from the road is probably buried at sufficient depth for most of the way, but the area where it is exposed is a small section of hill with about 20' of elevation. it's kind of steep and is washed out pretty bad. I'm thinking over five years or so of this, it eventually washed enough away to uncover the line in this area. The house has a septic system. It is a newer style that has two green manhole covers.
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Old 03-27-2014, 11:32 AM   #6
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Yes it is a slab house.
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:06 PM   #7
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Nice job. You found a few important issues that should be looked into further. Even though what you found wasn't major, as you have suggested, maybe you can nogiate with the sellers to have these issues fixed or lower the asking price and you fix them.

At only 5 years old, I wouldn't think there would be anything major wrong with the house. But I would still check crawl spaces, plumbing, roof, hvac, termite/pest control, and structural if you haven't already done that. Just a thought.

There are private companies that will mark off your water line for you. Here our local municilpality does it for free. As far as the fittings you have pictured, they could be for propane hook-up. Idk. The neigbors or sellers should be able to tell you what they're for.
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Old 03-28-2014, 08:02 AM   #8
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Here is the exposed line. You can see how much is coming out (about 2.5' exposed) by comparing to the tire tracks. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do any more investigating to find out if it has a tracer wire. I did find the meter though, and Like the water company said, it is cut off. As soon as I can get a realtor back over to the house to unlock it, I will turn water on and check for leaks in the house and along the drive.
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Old 03-28-2014, 08:10 AM   #9
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I would ask for at least 5k credit to have pipe reburied deeper. It should be done even if you choose not too. It wouldn't take that big of a truck to run over that and crush it. Could that be a utility conduit? Electric phone cable

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Old 03-28-2014, 08:28 AM   #10
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If you can see the meter turn water on and turn everything off in house and look to see if dial is moving on meter. Or turn off water at street wait 20mins then turn on faucet in house there should be full pressure for a at least a 30 seconds.

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Old 03-28-2014, 11:33 AM   #11
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I'm going to check it in a few days. It is a monsoon rain right now so it would be pointless at the moment. I want to be able to hear or see leaks coming from the ground or possibly the house..can't do it without dry ground.
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Old 03-28-2014, 12:21 PM   #12
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Suprised they didn't bury that correctly before the sell. Definately needs to be addressed. I agree, it wouldn't take much weight to crush it. I'm sure you and the sellers will be able to work things out and get it buried right.

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Old 04-09-2014, 03:34 PM   #13
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I realize this might be too late, but you don't seem to be familiar with the buying process. As the son of a 40 year realtor, here's a quick hint about what to do. You made an offer on this house and I sure hope it was contingent on your approval of the house inspection. You did that yourself rather than hire it done, which could cause some grousing from the selling realtor, but the fact still remains that you can cancel the deal if you do not approve. Obviously the things you found are not show-stoppers. So what you do in that case - and this happens all the time - is make a counter offer at either a lower price or better yet, with a "credit on closing" of sufficient funds to cover the repairs. If you want your amount to be taken seriously, get bids. You don't have to show them unless they are exorbitant. Otherwise, just make sure it really will cover all of your costs, including some reasonable amount for your time. If the credit you are asking is reasonable, the sellers should agree and you will actually get that amount of cash in your hands when the deal closes.

About the issues: The circuit breaker and the outlet really raise a red flag to me. The CB needs to be replaced. Either it was done wrong in the first place or was replaced incorrectly. It may be working fine, but that copper wire probably won't be strong enough to trip both sides when one side trips.
It's easy to replace and the breaker won't cost all that much. The big issue in my mind is what else was schlocked when it was installed that way? That outlet clearly needs to be rewired, too. What else? If the electrician or DIY who wired it made those mistakes, did he adequately tighten all screws or do you have loose wires hanging around to heat up and start fires? I've found them in two of my own houses which I was doing other work on. Including a dryer outlet with a loose screw which had charred a stud!

About the pipe: you can test it for leaks in the pouring rain. Re-read JustinK's posting. You shut off the water at the house and turn on the water at the meter. So the pipe to the house is pressurized, but only that pipe. Leaks in the house are excluded. Then you don't go running around looking or listening for leaks, you look at the meter to see if it is moving. Older meters have a little triangle which spins with even the tiniest bit of flow. I don't know if newer meters have that but they surely have some sort of low flow indication. Worst case, note the readings, leave it for an hour, then come back and see if anything has changed.

You can bury your own water pipe and all it costs is elbow grease. In fact, it could save you a month's dues at the gym. But make sure you call http://www.call811.com/ before you dig so they can mark your other utilities. It is free and in many places I think you are actually required by law to do it. A simple DIY trench can become a major expense (possibly even including medical) if you dig into an electrical cable, phone line, or gas line.

Last edited by FatBear; 04-09-2014 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 05-09-2014, 11:58 AM   #14
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I'm curious; did you use any sort of inspection checklist that you can share?
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