cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

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clip651
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cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by clip651 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:39 am

My cousin inherited an older house - how can she get a solid overview of all repairs needed? If she were considering buying the property, she'd bring in a home inspector and take it from there I guess. Since she already owns the house, is a home inspector still a good place to start? Is there someone else who can give an unbiased opinion on what needs to be fixed on an older house?

Background, in case it helps:

My cousin inherited her father's house a while back. She'd been living there with him in his last three years, so she already lives there, and the house has been in the family for a couple of decades. The house is older (built in 1950s or 1960s) and has been maintained in livable condition. House will likely will need a variety of repairs in coming years, partly due to older construction that wasn't great to begin with, partly due to passing years, etc. She's not experienced in home repair beyond the basics, and doesn't have a big network of local friends and family to give advice and referrals.

What sort(s) of professionals should she call to get an overview of the issues the house has, what things must/should be tackled first due to urgency, ballpark estimates of what things might cost, etc? She doesn't want to bring in multiple bids from many different trades just to find out what she's dealing with. And ideally she'd like to start with an expert opinion from someone can give an overview, and who isn't going to be doing the work and profiting from convincing her to do it their way at their price.

House is moderate value (maybe 100,000, maybe less) in a LCOL suburb of a metro area in the midwest, and is unlikely to appreciate in value based on location. Cousin has modest income and savings - enough to tackle projects over time, but not enough to accidentally waste $X000 here or there by repairing things that could wait, or by doing the wrong project first (like landscaping the yard and then realizing it needs to be dug up to fix sewer or drainage issues), or by delaying something that should be fixed sooner than later.

Cousin would like to be smart in maintaining house for livability for her future use and eventual sale if she decides to move in the future. She's looking at taking care of the basics of the house and lot first, so she wants an opinion on the current state of the roof, gutters, siding/exterior, drainage, foundation, plumbing, improving insulation, HVAC, cracked driveway, etc. She's not looking to update bathrooms and kitchen and whatnot in the next few years, unless they end up getting torn up for other needed repairs.

Lastly, any tips for finding folks to do good quality work at a decent price once she decides what project(s) to tackle first?

Thanks for any advice. She asked me and I didn't know what to tell her. I'll show her this thread.

cj

mhalley
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by mhalley » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:02 pm

I would think that living in a house for years would lead to knowing if any major repairs were needed. I suppose a home inspection would be one way to get an opinion on if there are any problems.

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clip651
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by clip651 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:51 pm

mhalley wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:02 pm
I would think that living in a house for years would lead to knowing if any major repairs were needed. I suppose a home inspection would be one way to get an opinion on if there are any problems.
There are some problems that are apparent, of course. A cracked driveway is easy to see - but that doesn't mean it needs to be addressed first. And you don't necessarily know why it's cracked to know what to have done differently next time. The condition of roof, gutters, foundation, insulation, wiring, plumbing, etc takes more expertise to evaluate and aren't necessarily obvious. For example, roof seems fine now ... but of course will need to be redone eventually. Would be nice to have an idea if that would be in 2 years, or 5, or 10. The HVAC and all major appliances work.

She is just looking for someone to look over the whole place, and give an educated opinion on where to start, where improvements can/should be made (e.g. insulation), where it is best to leave well enough alone with an older house. Not sure who to call to get guidance on the big picture. Ideally cousin would like to plan for things in stages to spread out costs as a first time homeowner.

Are there others besides home inspectors that can look over old houses to advise on what needs to be done to keep them going?

thanks,
cj

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by hicabob » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:56 pm

clip651 wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:51 pm
mhalley wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:02 pm
I would think that living in a house for years would lead to knowing if any major repairs were needed. I suppose a home inspection would be one way to get an opinion on if there are any problems.
There are some problems that are apparent, of course. A cracked driveway is easy to see - but that doesn't mean it needs to be addressed first. And you don't necessarily know why it's cracked to know what to have done differently next time. The condition of roof, gutters, foundation, insulation, wiring, plumbing, etc takes more expertise to evaluate and aren't necessarily obvious. For example, roof seems fine now ... but of course will need to be redone eventually. Would be nice to have an idea if that would be in 2 years, or 5, or 10. The HVAC and all major appliances work.

She is just looking for someone to look over the whole place, and give an educated opinion on where to start, where improvements can/should be made (e.g. insulation), where it is best to leave well enough alone with an older house. Not sure who to call to get guidance on the big picture. Ideally cousin would like to plan for things in stages to spread out costs as a first time homeowner.

Are there others besides home inspectors that can look over old houses to advise on what needs to be done to keep them going?

thanks,
cj
What you have described is what home inspectors do so that would be your person. With her multi-year knowledge of the home and a proficient inspector she should get the info she needs for $500 or so. Obviously she should accompany the inspector.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by Mr. Rumples » Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:48 pm

You mentioned its an older house and later mentioned landscaping. If there are old large trees on the property, have an arborist look at them. Even if they are sound, they might need pruning to ensure large branches don't fall down on the home. At least where I live, many tree companies will come and do an assessment for free; the assessment is done by an urban forester who is an arborist, a term I wasn't familiar with until I bought my current home. In my experience, they want to save trees rather than just cut them down.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by HomeStretch » Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:36 pm

Has your cousin considered selling the house and moving into something smaller/newer like a condo? She would be better able to control her housing costs.

An older house that has been minimally maintained probably has a lot of expensive repairs/replacements coming up. Even if she does one project a year, the cumulative cost of a roof, gutters, mechanicals, appliances, driveway, landscaping, etc. is really going to add up for someone of modest means that is not planning to DIY.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by F150HD » Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:47 pm

House is moderate value (maybe 100,000, maybe less) in a LCOL suburb of a metro area in the midwest, and is unlikely to appreciate in value based on location
Your words. Based upon that, I wouldn't pay an inspector to do anything or make any 'major' changes that may require code updates....based upon what you wrote, I'd do the minimum to keep the house liveable and clean to eventually sell down the road.
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by F150HD » Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:50 pm

Mr. Rumples wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:48 pm
You mentioned its an older house and later mentioned landscaping. If there are old large trees on the property, have an arborist look at them. Even if they are sound, they might need pruning to ensure large branches don't fall down on the home. At least where I live, many tree companies will come and do an assessment for free; the assessment is done by an urban forester who is an arborist, a term I wasn't familiar with until I bought my current home. In my experience, they want to save trees rather than just cut them down.
on a $100k home? I would absolutely pass. If a tree dies due to EAB or the like, have it taken down. Not seeing investing $$ into something like that on a property that OP stated will likely not appreciate.
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by Mr. Rumples » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:40 am

Probably true, but its worth be aware of and if its free, there is nothing to lose. In my neighborhood there are three houses that have trees fall on them since 2016. Two came down in storms, the last simply fell over on a hot day during the dry spell this past summer. It fell away from his house but we were without power for over 14 hours. In one of the storms, the kid across the way was injured when a white oak crashed though their roof; the brick house stopped the trunk, but not a major branch and the kid was trapped on his bed. In the end, their home was pretty much rebuilt. But I am a worrier and the older I get, the more I worry...

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by carolinaman » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:19 am

A good home inspector should be able to point out issues. Plumbing, electrical, poor lot drainage, sagging floors, wood rot are signs of problems that need to be determined and fixed. Of course, most home inspectors are hyper critical about issues so she will need to determine what needs to be done and what can be delayed or ignored. I would not recommend contractors or re modelers because they will be looking for work and try to convince your cousin to do things that may not be necessary, at least right now.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by jharkin » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:34 pm

clip651 wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:39 am
partly due to older construction that wasn't great to begin with,
What makes you think the house was not built well?

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by fru-gal » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:46 pm

I also think she should have a good home inspector look at things. He or she can also say if things need fixing now or can be postponed.

I had a really excellent home inspector when I bought my first house. He took me around to look at things and showed me where there were problems and wrote up a detailed report. Years later in another state I hired an inspector who was completely useless. So it is important to find a good one.

That said, she's been living there for several years and presumably would have noticed if the roof were obviously leaking, so I wouldn't worry much.

Local real estate agents may be able to recommend someone.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by Watty » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:11 pm

Finding a good home inspector is critical if she uses one. In some states they are barely regulated and it takes very little to become one.

One downside to consider if she hires one is that if she then decides to sell the house she would likely be required to disclose any problems that the inspector might have found.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:28 pm

I did get a chuckle out of a 50's house being older.... We helped my wife's aunt sell an average aged house a year or so ago, built in 1890. There, asbestos, lead paint, knob and tube wiring were all present. In a 50's house, the asbestos and lead paint could be present. Another test we had done when selling our own first house (relatively new construction from 1963) was to test if there were any banned pesticides around the house such as DDT.

I do think that getting a qualified inspector who will issue a ledgeable report on his findings is a good starting point. Asking specifically what "really needs" fixing and in what order ahead of time can help guide how the report is written. Get the inspector's qualifications ahead of time. You'd want someone with extensive, hands on construction experience.
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by TSR » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:40 pm

Real estate agents in the area will know who are good home inspectors to (1) get a quick sale by rubber-stamping, or (2) possibly gum up a sale by finding something. You need the latter, and that person will be happy to tell your cousin what's wrong with the thing. Just ask a real estate agent in the area who is the inspector they don't want to be involved in their potential sale. That's who you want.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by petiejoe » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:59 pm

HomeStretch wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:36 pm
Has your cousin considered selling the house and moving into something smaller/newer like a condo? She would be better able to control her housing costs.

An older house that has been minimally maintained probably has a lot of expensive repairs/replacements coming up. Even if she does one project a year, the cumulative cost of a roof, gutters, mechanicals, appliances, driveway, landscaping, etc. is really going to add up for someone of modest means that is not planning to DIY.
I strongly disagree that a condo lets her control her housing costs better. Most condos don't let you decide when to replace windows/roofs/etc. They just bill you for it when the condo association decides it's time to do it, whether it's for safety, comfort, or even just aesthetics. Renting might be a good idea if she isn't prepared for the cost and uncertainty associated with maintaining a house.

If she knows nothing about house maintenance (and wants to continue living there), I'd agree with the other posters who suggest an inspector. Just be prepared that inspectors generally feel it's their responsibility to report every. single. little. thing. A good inspector will help prioritize issues they find, but even then it's best to understand the actual impact, especially since she's already lived in the house for a while. For example, if the inspector calls out that the seals on double pane windows are shot, that's mostly a comfort thing and if she's already comfortable in the house, it doesn't have to be replaced right away. On the other hand, small problems with the roof are cheap to repair if they're caught early and can get extremely expensive to repair the associated damage if they're delayed.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by Opalmanta » Thu Oct 31, 2019 3:12 pm

TSR wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:40 pm
Real estate agents in the area will know who are good home inspectors to (1) get a quick sale by rubber-stamping, or (2) possibly gum up a sale by finding something. You need the latter, and that person will be happy to tell your cousin what's wrong with the thing. Just ask a real estate agent in the area who is the inspector they don't want to be involved in their potential sale. That's who you want.
+1. A real estate agent can also give you a good idea of selling values in the neighborhood (though didn't she need to have the house appraised as part of the inheritance?), and also the "bang for your buck" items that may need upgrades or replacement prior to selling if she decides to do that.

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by Minty » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:43 pm

I might start by getting some recommendations for roofers to come take a look. We get our roof looked at every few years for cracked tiles, loose flashing, degraded seals on vents, etc., and they usually don't charge for the inspection, just for the work.
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clip651
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by clip651 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:48 pm

TSR wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:40 pm
Real estate agents in the area will know who are good home inspectors to (1) get a quick sale by rubber-stamping, or (2) possibly gum up a sale by finding something. You need the latter, and that person will be happy to tell your cousin what's wrong with the thing. Just ask a real estate agent in the area who is the inspector they don't want to be involved in their potential sale. That's who you want.
This sounds like good advice. Also made me laugh! Thanks.

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clip651
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by clip651 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:56 pm

petiejoe wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:59 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:36 pm
Has your cousin considered selling the house and moving into something smaller/newer like a condo? She would be better able to control her housing costs.

An older house that has been minimally maintained probably has a lot of expensive repairs/replacements coming up. Even if she does one project a year, the cumulative cost of a roof, gutters, mechanicals, appliances, driveway, landscaping, etc. is really going to add up for someone of modest means that is not planning to DIY.
I strongly disagree that a condo lets her control her housing costs better. Most condos don't let you decide when to replace windows/roofs/etc. They just bill you for it when the condo association decides it's time to do it, whether it's for safety, comfort, or even just aesthetics. Renting might be a good idea if she isn't prepared for the cost and uncertainty associated with maintaining a house.
Well, on the plus side, the house is already paid for. So there's property tax, utilities, and maintenance costs (trying to get a handle on what those might be), but no rent or mortgage. And she already lives there, there is at least some sentimental value to the place, and moving is a pain and can be expensive.

Moving is an option, but she's trying to explore the staying put option first. Good quality rentals or condos at a reasonable price may be hard to come by in her immediate area, but she hasn't really looked into that yet.

Thanks for all the ideas so far. Sounds like a good home inspector is a good place to start.

cj

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clip651
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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by clip651 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:59 pm

Watty wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:11 pm
One downside to consider if she hires one is that if she then decides to sell the house she would likely be required to disclose any problems that the inspector might have found.
Anyone have a feel for whether this is a serious consideration? In the event of a sale, there wouldn't be a desire to hide anything, and a buyer would presumably get their own home inspection anyway. If there are serious problems (lead paint, mold, etc) isn't it better to know? If problems are bad enough, house can be sold "as is" down the road, right?

cj

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Re: cousin inherited older house - how to get solid overview of all repairs needed?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:28 am

clip651 wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:59 pm
Watty wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:11 pm
One downside to consider if she hires one is that if she then decides to sell the house she would likely be required to disclose any problems that the inspector might have found.
Anyone have a feel for whether this is a serious consideration? In the event of a sale, there wouldn't be a desire to hide anything, and a buyer would presumably get their own home inspection anyway. If there are serious problems (lead paint, mold, etc) isn't it better to know? If problems are bad enough, house can be sold "as is" down the road, right?
You can do some research online, and also call up a few realtors, and find out what the laws and regulations in your state say.

If she wants to stay a while (sounds like it), the regulations are reasonably permissive, and the has enough money for at least some repairs I’d get a home inspector.

Home inspectors often work under considerable pressure to meet deadlines. If she finds a friendly one, since there isn’t any sale pressure she could accompany the inspector on a leisurely inspection and really learn a lot about the house.

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