Archive for March, 2011
A home inspection is one of the most crucial steps on the path to old-house ownership. Here’s how to use it to determine if you should take the plunge on that fixer-upper.
By Jane Powell
|Buyer beware: What looks like a dream house from a distance could turn out to be riddled with problems upon closer inspection. Lori Martin photo
You’ve taken the leap and made an offer on an old house, and the seller has accepted it. Caught between euphoria and dread, you have only a few short weeks to reassure yourself that it’s the right house for you—and make sure you haven’t agreed to sink your life savings into a proverbial money pit.
And while you need to investigate the neighborhood, the zoning, the schools, and other concerns, the biggest piece of what the real estate people call “due diligence” will be the physical inspection of the house. Much of your decision on whether to go ahead with the sale, and a large part of your plans for fixing the house after you buy it, will be based on this document.
I am celebrating 29 years of marriage with my first wife in April so I don’t know about divorce other than second hand knowledge. I can’t imagine how it feels to go through it. What I do know is that often one spouse or the other gets the house while the other get the pension, savings or other assets they have accumulated together. If you end up with the house don’t get the short end of the stick…get a Home Inspection before you agree to your final terms. Here’s why.
Regardless of the age of the building there can be serious defects that may devalue the property. It’s not unthinkable that portions, let’s start with the roof, could be nearing the end of its useful life. Replacing a roof can cost thousands of dollars. A Heater, AC or Heat Pump is also a major expense. These things, according to Murphy’s Law, will happen just when you can’t afford it. A divorce is basically a business transaction, so treat it as such. Keep the emotions out of it and make sure you know what you’re getting.
If you have lived in the home for a while, it is likely that the major house systems have worked just fine, and most people don’t contemplate replacing big items until they fail. Nothing lasts forever, things break or wear out.
Worse than the things that you might expect to replace and may have even taken into consideration, is the unexpected. There are many potential issues with foundations. Unless you know what to look for, a seemingly minor issue may lead to substantial costs. It’s not uncommon for structural repairs to go into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Don’t mistake an appraisal for a Home Inspection. Appraisers don’t necessarily take into account repairs that may be needed. You need a Home Inspection!
There is a lot of information available and more Lawyers and Realtors are becoming aware of the value of a Home Inspection before a divorce is final. Consider one for your peace of mind.
For more information check out, Kelly Lise Murray’s Web Site
I’m a Home Inspector. I love my job. When clients hire home inspectors they do so for several reasons. The most important reason is so that we can do an evaluation of the property and report back on the building’s systems and their current state of efficiency or deficiency. The ironic thing is that almost all homes have deficiencies, and everyone has to live somewhere, so the client is faced with a decision. Can they live with the home in its present condition and/or are they willing to make investments to improve it. Since I have spent my whole adult life in and around construction I am in favor of making improvements. On the other hand, not everyone thinks like me and many would rather buy in to a home that needs few or no repairs. This comes at a price. Decisions, decisions…
Our reports are based on the condition of the home, our education, training and background. It’s as simple as that. However, we can be made to look like the ‘bad’ guys just by doing our jobs. No one likes to hear bad news and, depending on how you look at it, we bring bad news. We’re often known to Realtors as “Deal Killers.” Since the majority of our work (at least my work) comes from Realtors. It’s a tough position.
Legitimate Home Inspectors have a Code of Ethics. The American Society of Home Inspectors has a deliberate Code of Ethics that we all agree to abide by. In part it says, “Integrity, honesty, and objectivity are fundamental principles embodied by this Code, which sets forth obligations of ethical conduct for the home inspection profession. The Membership of ASHI has adopted this Code to provide high ethical standards to safeguard the public and the profession.” ASHI Code of Ethics.
I view doing Home Inspections as a privilege. I also take my reports seriously. I want to make friends as much as the next person, but I’m not in a popularity contest.
So please… don’t shoot the messenger!