Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Inspecting a home is the most important part of buying a home

Don't Skip the Inspection

I have run into a number of buyers who have no idea how to inspect a home.  I recommend a home inspector, and a pest inspector at a minimum.  Here are SOME of the more important things to look for when considering a home purchase.

Anticipate how growth in the area might affect where you buy.  Is your already busy street going to become a major thoroughfare in 10 years?

Evidence that anybody uses your property as a short cut to somewhere.  If so, you might have easement issues that are too late to correct & you’d want to consult with an attorney or title company for added title insurance
At the end of Acacia Ln, the  owner struggles to keep homeless from cutting past his land

Look at your neighbor’s property and evaluate for potential drainage issues onto your property.

Consider how trees might affect your property
How close are your neighbor’s trees to your structure.  If a tree is an evergreen will it block your sun in the winter?  Will it lose it’s leaves and clog your gutters in fall?  Will roots affect your foundation?  Would a broken limb damage any structures including fences?

Your home:
Home inspection report
I recommend a home inspector and a pest report be done. I’d pick a local pest company, not a national franchise.  Since you’re the buyer it does not matter if the pest company also offers to fix dry rot. They usually over bid but you’re going to try to get the seller to pay, so who cares if it’s too much.  

If you’re getting a loan, be careful about telling the bank if you had inspections done, they may make seeing and approving them a condition of underwriting.  

Home inspector should be a licensed contractor.  In California, there is no requirement for them to be a licensed contractor, but if you have a choice, go for the contractor. 

Septic and well,- get current inspections & consult inspection companies if you have questions.  This is an area you shouldn’t try to save money by skipping. Try to communicate concerns with any party including the inspection company in writing (email) so that you can hold them accountable later should you find a problem.  You could have a claim against an inspection service if they tell you everything checked out during the inspection yet you discover they were mistaken.   Don’t rely on your agent to say the report looks good.  

Drainage- land should, at a minimum, slant downward and away from your home.  If your home is on a hillside try to see how the seller or previous owners prevented water from entering the sub area from the uphill side of the home.  Maybe French drain?  Sump pump?

Look under the home for indication of standing water.  In a perfect scenario, the ground should be DRY.  Moist is not so good, wet/muddy is bad.  A moist ground will evaporated in summer and winter, and cause wood under the house to be moist where mold and dry rot can begin.  This can be an easy problem to fix, but it can also be very very difficult to fix.  If you’re not sure, you can hire a soils engineer for a few hundred bucks to look and evaluate.  

Roof-  All roofs leak, you just need to find out where.  A home inspector should walk the roofline, examine flashing, and look inside the attic for signs of past leaks or current leaks.  If you’re not going to get a home inspector to look at the prop, you should have a roof contractor come look and evaluate the condition, structural integrity, and age of the roof .  

Establish the age of a furnace
Furnace- take a picture of the inside panel where you see the model #, serial # etc.  You can go on-line and look up the brand name and using the model # find out how old your furnace is.  Anything older than 20 yrs is getting ready to replace, or might even be dangerous.   An old furnace isn’t as much a fire danger as it is a carbon monoxide danger.  Carbon monoxide is a silent killer.  Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm if your home has any of the following:

  •   Wood/pellet burning fireplace/stove
  •   Any type of heater that uses fire (natural gas, wood stove, oil, propane etc)
  •     Attached garage
  •      Water heater that’s not electric

Tankless water heater can save money
Hot water heater-  These are good for 10 yrs +/-.  Look for rusted drip pan or other rusted parts.  This indicates active leak, past leak, or even a leaking previous water heater.  Regardless, you want answers to why rusted parts are present.  Hot water heaters are getting close to $1000 to replace. If you replace it, consider getting a direct tankless heater.  I have a Bosch “AquaStar” and it’s great.  Water never gets cold and I don’t have to try to keep 50 gals of water hot 24/7. I’ll never go back to a hot water tank again. 

Electrical-If you aren’t going to have a home inspector look at the home, have an electrician look at the electric panel.  There are a ton of things that can be wrong with them, and it’s $5000 +/- to have a new one put in.  Homeowners do all kinds of crazy stuff to their panels so make sure someone looks at it.  

Other considerations:
One of my clients bought an acre only to find out a year later that his neighbor had already obtained permission to sub-divide.  He had to listen to 8 homes get built.  The sellers claimed they never knew about the proposed construction.  A visit to the city or county permit department might be 45 minutes well spent to see what notices have been mailed out to the property you’re buying in the previous 12 months.    You can also view the history of permits pulled for the property.  Be careful about asking the city/county to do a building inspection of the home prior to you owning it.  If the city fines the current homeowner for a violation, they might be able to go after you for any damages you caused by calling the city. If you want the city to go out and look at something make sure you have the agents and owners permission, or have the current owners call the city/county.  

Protect yourself and your investment by conducting a thorough inspection.  One of the best choices you can make is to utilize a local broker who knows your area and can guide you through the inspection process. 

I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633

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