Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
Faisal
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:37 pm

Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Faisal » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:47 pm

To all those who have provided advice earlier thank you as your advice and information has been invaluable.

We are currently looking at a home where we are at the inspection stage. This is our first home and I want to make sure I don't miss anything which would be a liability for my wife and kid. Thus I was wondeirng what should I be looking for with the inspection and is there something very specific I should be concerned about.

The house was built in the 1930s. It has been sold multiple times last in 2014 who put in central AC and another bathroom. The heating is with based on an underground oil tank so we will get an oil spill test and other necessary tests to make sure that is good.

So what should be my main areas to focus on? And what questions should I ask the inspector? Or look for in the inspectors report?

neilpilot
Posts: 2838
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by neilpilot » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:50 pm

This really doesn't answer your question, but if at all possible you should accompany the inspector. That way, you will learn about the home and his report will be infinitely more meaningful.

User avatar
mhc
Posts: 4025
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:18 pm
Location: NoCo

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by mhc » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:55 pm

were there proper permits for the improvements
radon
lead paint
asbestos
whatever hazards particular to your part of the country
wiring/breaker box
plumbing
sewage
gas
insulation
foundation

Basically, I would ask about every part of the house.

DrakeSRT
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:43 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by DrakeSRT » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:57 pm

Look at the foundation. If your inspector doesn't specialize in foundation inspections hire another inspector who will just inspect the foundation.

The fact that it has been resold recently may be s good sign however don't take anyone's (seller, agent) word.

Good luck

Topic Author
Faisal
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:37 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Faisal » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:15 pm

Thank you guys for your prompt response. I will definitely be there for the inspection in person with a paper and pen to make notes for the home. So thank you for that advice.

@mhc
I am not a DIY kinda guy so i know very little about home etc. Coming from a developing country to the US things are very different. We use brick and cement vs wood and plaster etc. I have done odds and ends around my parents home but it is a very different case where things are a lot cheaper and it easy to get someone to do it for you.

The real estate agent has said that there maybe some asbestos in the home most likely since it was made in the 1930s and she does not have any knowledge about a complete gut renovation. The house was sold in 2014. Before that the owners bought it in 2008/09 and they had a young girl from what we can tell from the pictures and in both cases 2014 and now owners have made improvements and changes to the home. Substantive and cosmetic.

Should I ask if everything in the home is up to code and do we get to see the permits or not?

@Drake
Thanks. Our main concerns right now are the foundation, the roof as we have no idea when it was last replaced and the below ground oil tank. Any advice on what to look for would be greatly appreciated.

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 8467
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:16 pm

Reputable home inspector.
General building contractor (able to give an estimate for any work needed or spot problem areas).
Accompany both.
For a home this old, be very very careful. Check everything.
Be sure there is full disclosure and then realize that likely not everything might be known or disclosed.

Be sure not to buy a "money pit".
j
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know

Topic Author
Faisal
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:37 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Faisal » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:20 pm

Thanks Sandtrap. The need for the general contractor is to look for defects or in case we wish to make changes? Also again very new to all of this so your patience is appreciated - what would the general contractor look at differently than the inspector?

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22280
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by dm200 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:20 pm

Look for hidden or masked water leakage and/or subsequent mold.

Check the roof - and (if possible) determine how many layer of roofing - should be only one or two.

Make sure all work done over the years is withing the rules of the jurisdiction.

adamthesmythe
Posts: 3027
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:26 pm

> Should I ask if everything in the home is up to code

Almost certainly the entire house is not to current code, nor would it be required to be. Significant renovation usually requires that at least that portion be to current code.

> and do we get to see the permits or not?

Depends on whether the work done required permits. In some cases it may not. You need to know your local laws.

Also-

Add termite inspection to the list

Buying an older house means there will be unexpected repairs. That's what the emergency fund is for.

soccerrules
Posts: 946
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:01 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by soccerrules » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:26 pm

If you can be at the house when the inspector is there, I would. You can talk to him/her and tell them your concerns and what you already know about prior issues or work that has been done.

In the South the big ticket items are:
A/C - Heater Units (Heather exchange)
Termite activity / damage
Foundation issues
Water Damage in home or due to slab movement

The rest of the items tend to be smaller or cosmetic in nature.
Don't let your outflow exceed your income or your upkeep will be your downfall.

User avatar
Nate79
Posts: 5177
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Nate79 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:37 pm

There is nothing in this thread that a good home inspector won't be checking for. I have had good home inspectors in the past and they themselves have made comments about every single item in this thread. You may bring up these details but none of these items are particularly noteworthy and are completely normal for them to check.

The bigger question is how to get a top notch home inspector.

User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 9372
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:49 pm

How are you selecting the inspector?

Some RE agents try to recommend inspectors who are known to make a sale go through quickly/easily, by not being "too" careful.
Remember: The RE agent *wants* this to close so they can get on with the next properties to be sold.

If you can get a recommendation from some other source, such as a friend who purchased an older home several years ago, so there has been time for problems to appear, that might be good.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

Sasquatch
Posts: 291
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:44 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Sasquatch » Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:11 pm

I always walk with the inspector during the inspection. I ask a lot of questions. You can learn a lot from just tagging along.

DrakeSRT
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:43 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by DrakeSRT » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:03 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:37 pm
There is nothing in this thread that a good home inspector won't be checking for. I have had good home inspectors in the past and they themselves have made comments about every single item in this thread. You may bring up these details but none of these items are particularly noteworthy and are completely normal for them to check.

The bigger question is how to get a top notch home inspector.
Have you ever bought a 1930s home? I have and MOST inspectors will not take liability and will refer you to a foundation contractor/inspector.

Not sure if the OP said where or what style of house. This area they are post and pier and can be quite expensive if work is needed.

Jags4186
Posts: 3907
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:10 pm

Don’t buy a house with an underground oil tank. It needs to be removed and the state needs to certify that it was done correctly. If the owners won’t remove the tank I would move on.

PVW
Posts: 593
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:01 am

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by PVW » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:36 pm

Radon, asbestos and lead paint are the ones that cause problems because you don't know a problem exists and chronic exposure can cause long term health problems. I own an old house, build about the same time as the one you're looking at, and my inspector offered a radon test, but I don't recall him saying anything about asbestos and lead paint. A little education goes a long way toward avoiding exposure and alleviating anxiety.
https://www.epa.gov/lead
https://www.epa.gov/radon
https://www.epa.gov/asbestos

Another potential but often over inflated problem is mold. Concern is warranted for persistent mold problems or people with sensitivities.
https://www.epa.gov/mold

And don't get too worked up when the inspector finds some issues with the home. Old homes have problems, but they are still standing because they've been maintained. The cost of fixing current problems should weigh in your decision on what the house is worth, but normal, age related, problems don't usually indicate a money pit.

chw
Posts: 709
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 4:22 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by chw » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:12 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:10 pm
Don’t buy a house with an underground oil tank. It needs to be removed and the state needs to certify that it was done correctly. If the owners won’t remove the tank I would move on.
+1. The tank will leak eventually- just a matter if it happens to you, and if you discover it before a major cleanup is required.

User avatar
Nate79
Posts: 5177
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Nate79 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:27 pm

DrakeSRT wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:03 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:37 pm
There is nothing in this thread that a good home inspector won't be checking for. I have had good home inspectors in the past and they themselves have made comments about every single item in this thread. You may bring up these details but none of these items are particularly noteworthy and are completely normal for them to check.

The bigger question is how to get a top notch home inspector.
Have you ever bought a 1930s home? I have and MOST inspectors will not take liability and will refer you to a foundation contractor/inspector.

Not sure if the OP said where or what style of house. This area they are post and pier and can be quite expensive if work is needed.
Early 1940s house was our previous purchase. Not sure how much difference there is between 30s and 40s but either way the inspector will tell you what they can and can't do.

GAAP
Posts: 954
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:41 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by GAAP » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:46 am

Check with the local jurisdiction to make sure that all improvements/buildings/etc. actually show in their records. If not, you need to ask more questions of the seller and potentially get some guarantees/warranties.

If you're on a septic system, get a septic inspection. If you have a well, get a well inspection -- and pay extra for more detailed water tests.

Try to get the inspector's impression of general work quality -- that may end up being a better indication.

InvisibleAerobar
Posts: 354
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:33 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:07 am

Faisal wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:47 pm
To all those who have provided advice earlier thank you as your advice and information has been invaluable.

We are currently looking at a home where we are at the inspection stage. This is our first home and I want to make sure I don't miss anything which would be a liability for my wife and kid. Thus I was wondeirng what should I be looking for with the inspection and is there something very specific I should be concerned about.

The house was built in the 1930s. It has been sold multiple times last in 2014 who put in central AC and another bathroom. The heating is with based on an underground oil tank so we will get an oil spill test and other necessary tests to make sure that is good.

So what should be my main areas to focus on? And what questions should I ask the inspector? Or look for in the inspectors report?
I perhaps am in a situation similar to yours, where the houses I look at are quite old.

Main things that other helpful forumites have suggested re old houses: water intake, water outtake, tubing within the house, identification of lead paint (especially with a kid in the house).

Would also pay attention to any issues related to moisture, as it could create favorable conditions for termites and mold.

Lastly, make sure that there's a permit for everything done. Was really interested in a house but decided to stay away after realizing that the owners never applied for a permit when finishing the basement (that had moisture issues).

InMyDreams
Posts: 639
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:35 am

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by InMyDreams » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:31 pm

One friend found out after she'd moved in that her wiring was aluminum, and had signs that it had overheated in the past. Her inspector refunded the fee that he charged, but nothing more. She did have home-buyer's insurance, and I know she made a claim for something, but not sure it was the wiring issue.

Another friend of a friend bought a house - and found out after the fact that they have a septic tank, not city sewer (!). Totally unmentioned on their sewer line inspection/report. Also, the many other repairs that were to be done in response to the house inspection were not done by a licensed contractor, and were not up to code. The sewer line problem was found when they had the gas company come out for a complaint related to those "repairs".

Moral of that tale: have repairs that are done in response to an inspection re-inspected!

jharkin
Posts: 2366
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:14 am
Location: Boston suburbs

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by jharkin » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:08 pm

I always laugh when people on this forum get all paranoid when non-brand new construction houses are discussed.

That house is not that old. Really. I live in a house almost 3x as old and it’s not a disaster. Other than the use of plaster rather than drywall, a 30s house still folllows most of the basic construction methods used today with generally familiar materials. It’s not until you get back to the 1800s that you see truly different things like timber framing, like mortared stone foundations, etc.that really need specialists.

The buried oil tank is a concern.
Asbestos, if present can be in pipe wrap, insulation, some shingles or old drop ceiling tiles. It’s been a known hazard so long odds are good it’s been addressed already.
Radon can exist even in a brand new house.
Lead paint is not a risk as long as it’s not chipping. Safest approach is to paint over and seal it in.

Plumbing and electrical issues are the most common things that need fixing in a house that age,but are typically manageable.

Topic Author
Faisal
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:37 pm

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by Faisal » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:09 pm

Thank you all for your advice and inputs. It is greatly appreciated. The home inspection is on Monday so lets see how it goes.

The oil tank is a concern for us and if it doesn't pass the tightness test and the soil sample test then we won't be moving ahead with the sale.

CurlyDave
Posts: 1321
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am

Re: Inspection on home we wish to purchase - questions i should ask

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:58 am

TIP Have the inspection done before the home is appraised, and give the inspector's report to the appraiser.

The appraiser may require some items found in the inspection to be repaired before the lender will make a loan on the property. This gives you a lot of bargaining power with the seller.

If the appraiser never sees the inspection, he may not realize some of the things the inspector finds, and in a strong market, the seller can refuse to negotiate on these items.

Post Reply