• Tag along with inspector when considering buying a home

  • 10 April 2012 by 3 Comments

This article was originally printed in the April 7, 2012 Northwest Advance Newspaper supplement, Spring Home Improvement 2012 page 19.

Approximately five million Americans are expected to buy an existing home this year. Volatile prices, and record number of foreclosures, and an uncertain economy make this and uneasy time to enter the homeowner market, which is why it is all the more important that homebuyers are aware and informed before signing on the dotted line.

Although licensed home inspectors can provide a detailed analysis of many aspects of a house, experts agree the buyer should not let the inspector go it alone, either figuratively or literally. “Be sure to accompany your home inspector to see problems first-hand,” said Ray Palermo, director of public relations for Response Insurance. “Take notes and ask questions about mechanical operations and emergency shut-offs so you can familiarize yourself before you have a problem.” He noted several of the most common issues to watch for:

Maintenance: Observing an overall pattern of poor maintenance is often a sign of trouble. Crumbling masonry, makeshift wiring, peeling paint, cracked cement surfaces, broken fixtures and appliances may indicate that other, even more important items have been neglected. Ask for life expectancies on major appliances, HVAC, and the roof.

Electrical: Electrical service that is inadequate to meet the demand of the household can cause wires to overload and start fires. Older homes in particular tend to have electrical service patched together and added on as the demand grew. Today’s lifestyles place additional demands on home electric not anticipated when first built, including computers, microwave ovens, larger refrigerators, air conditioners, more lighting, and television/video centers.

Roof: Old or damaged shingles, improper flashing, and broken gutter and drainage systems can all contribute to roof leaks and water damage around the house.

Heating system: Old and inefficient heating systems, old ductwork, malfunctioning thermostats and controls can pose costly problems throughout the heating season. Blocked chimneys and poorly vented heating systems can pose a health threat to occupants.

Plumbing: Faulty and inefficient fixtures, lead water pipes, non-compliant gas lines, inadequate or old waste pipes, and a mix of incompatible piping materials can present problems. Water heaters should meet the needs of the occupants.

Structure: Foundation walls, floor joists, rafters, windows and doors and skylights should all be examined for cracks and air/water leakage. An improperly graded property that slopes toward the house can result in water penetration in basements and crawl spaces, and damage to foundation walls.

Insulation: Inadequate or cracked caulking around windows and doors, and insufficient wall and attic insulation drive up heating and cooling costs. However, over-sealing a house can cause excessive interior moisture.

Additional tests: Separate inspections for termite infestation, asbestos, radon, well-water contamination, and other potential hazards are often advisable.

Additional information on this and other homeowner and car safety topics is available at the ResponseInsuranceSafetyinformationCenterWeb site: www.response.com/safety.

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    3 Responses to Tag along with inspector when considering buying a home
      • Phil
      • In this blog it states that those having an inspection done on a house should follow the inspector. I have a few questions: If I, as the home buyer, am not paying for the inspection, should I either hire my own inspection of the house and/or have my own inspector follow the inspection process? What is the overall industry view of home owner inspections as it relates to making sure the inspection is done with the home buyer in mind?

        • paul
        • It would be good for you to hire a inspection company of your own choice. Typically in Western Michigan, the buyer includes a home inspection in the purchase agreement as one of the contingencies of the purchase. In this case the buyer pays for a home inspection. It is not unusual to find out however that the seller had an inspection on the home when they purchased it, or that the seller had an inspection on the home prior to listing the home. Some sellers want to know what items might be issues in he selling process, and correct these before listing.

          When we perform inspections we have both the buyers and sellers interests in mind. Safety issues need to be remediated as soon as possible. A gas leak, or discovery of a cracked heat exchanger in a furnace that may emit carbon-monoxide into the home is an example. Often, the seller uses our company for their pre-purchase inspection because of our thoroughness. However special attention is given to the concerns of the buyer, they have hired us and expect us to look out for their interests.

          • Phil
          • Thanks for the reply. So in some cases then 2 inspections are done on the home. One by the owner(perhaps before he puts the homne on the market) and one by the buyer (before they buy). Makes sense.

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