House – Part 2 of ?: The Inspection

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A quick note: I’m going to label these posts in numbered order, but that is not necessarily a chronological order or how they will remain when they’re edited into a final form. This way as you’re reading along you can keep track of the ones you’ve read if you’re interested in that.

 

When the inspection is held depends on when your contract is signed. Our inspection was in late May. Remember in my landscaping piece (link), the outside looked fantastic. This was the naïve day when we still believed that the inspection meant something.

The procedure in this state (please, please check your own state): find the house, put in a bid, seller accepts the bid, both parties sign the contract, you now have 3 days to back out for any reason. Once these three days pass, the only way to back out without losing your deposit is if something fails the inspection. BUT! The failing item must cost $1500 or more to fix. This is an almost impossible criteria to meet. At our inspection, the furnace failed. THE FURANCE! The homeowner said that they would fix it. Great.

Yeah, great. At that point, we wanted to back out, but we knew then that no matter what the inspector found we were stuck with this house.

Let me tell you about the rest of the inspection.

It went very quickly from excitement and American Dream to what the fuck is happening?

It was advertised, and priced as a four car driveway, and it was; sort of. Half was blacktop. Half was gravel over grass. There is still a question if we need to pay to replace both halves or if we need a variance to “expand” our driveway to four spaces. It’s kind of moot, though since with everything else we’ve had to replace or repair and pay for, we haven’t been able to afford to replace/repair it (or other things for that matter).

I’ll go through item by item so you understand how fucked up this process was, but first let me say that many of the things we discovered were after we moved in. there were things that were patched to make it look pretty and things that were hidden, both of which I would consider fraud. Had we known, we either would have not bought the house or would have offered much, much less. Chances are if we offered much less, they wouldn’t have sold it to us. As it is, the seller walked away with over a $35,000 profit. Yes, PROFIT. And don’t even ask about a lawsuit. Everything is so subjective and by the letter of the contract that it wasn’t even worth consulting an attorney.

It is sad to say but our honesty is one of the reasons we are so screwed with money. We would NEVER sell this house without revealing the things the seller hid from us. In my mind, it would be reprehensive and beyond anything I could do with a straight face.

This is a list of some of the ridiculousness of our inspection:

Woodstove – this is something that is electric and fitted into the fireplace. I never had a fireplace or a woodstove growing up. I was really looking forward to this. Since this is not a part of the house, it was not inspected. This will be a recurring theme.

Kitchen stove – the stove is small, about the size of an apartment stove.

Refrigerator – this is considered personal property and doesn’t actually come with the house. Therefore it was not inspected. We were told that the fridge was new. It certainly looked new. After moving in, we noticed that a part of the door was missing and we tried to get the part for it. According to the numbers on the refrigerator this ‘new’ item was ten years old. (We didn’t see the broken shelf because I felt funny about looking into someone’s fridge. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE. Open every cabinet, every door, peek behind pictures and furniture. Why, will become apparent when you continue to read.)

Hot water heater – rusty, at least 25 years old, more like 30. It’s old, but it works. Pass. (This leaked and finally went at the beginning of 2013. I couldn’t have gotten it replaced without the loans and gifts from Tumblr and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.)

Furnace – This didn’t work at the inspection. DIDN’T. WORK. The seller said he would fix it (and he did.) The furnace was at least 30 years old if not original. It’s old, but it works; now. (We had to replace this the next year)

Basement step – needed to be replaced – item doesn’t cost $1500 or more. Bannister needs tightening. Seller will do that.

Electrical – it met code. Barely. Everything worked. There were only two modern outlets in the entire house – the kitchen and the bathroom. Our computer is plugged into the bathroom. (Do you have any idea how much an electrician costs to redo your whole house?)

Related to electricity, the kitchen had no dishwasher. We were told by both realtors and the inspector that we could easily install one into our large cabinets. No one apparently told them that in order to put in a dishwasher where there was none, you not only need the electrical work done, you need a plumber and you lose that very large cabinet. The electrical work would have cost $300 by itself.

Microwave – This was not built in so it wasn’t inspected, but it was on a cart between the stove and the fridge. We looked at it, liked how the kitchen looked set up like that and basically moved on. When we moved in, we found out that the microwave couldn’t be used in that position because there was no electrical outlet. They moved it presumably to make the counters look larger. Another example of misrepresenting the ‘pros’ of their house.

Washer/dryer – came with the house, but they are personal property – they were not inspected. They lasted a year. (To be fair though, they never emptied their pockets. My husband found over $100 when we got rid of the dryer the next year).

Septic system – someone else inspects (for a separate fee). Oh but wait, the seller had their septic pumped the week before the inspection. Wasn’t that nice of them? The problem is that you can’t accurately assess the quality of an empty septic system so while we paid for an inspection, we really didn’t get one, and had to redo (at additional expense) the next year.

Not to mention that when we looked at the house, our realtor told us that the septic tank was at least 1000-1500 gallons (still kind of small for a family of five, but we had two in diapers at the time.) Guess what? The septic tank/system was original and it was only 500 gallons. That’s big enough for two people. We are still using it because google the price of replacing a septic system and you’ll understand why.

Above ground pool – not necessary, but it is part of the selling price. It is also personal property and not inspected. Yup. An above ground pool is personal property.

We were also told that they would open the pool up for the summer (this was also a selling point and a consideration for our offer) and we’d have it when we moved in at the beginning of August. Unfortunately, they not only didn’t do that, the neighbors told us that they hadn’t used the pool in two years. We found frogs in it. Eventually, we drained it and put it out for metal scraps.

Fenced in yard – the neighbors also told us that the installer put the chain link fence in the wrong place, taking away about two feet of yard space from us and giving it to the neighbor, across the entire back of the yard because no one was there to direct them. Also, the fence itself wasn’t inspected. Yeah. It’s also not part of the house.

Floors/Carpets – not much to inspect. Two rugs were stained, but since we were told that there were hardwood floors under them (like the rest of the house) we would pull the up and leave the wood floor which we thought was okay. We liked hardwood floors (and they are expensive if you want to put them in.)

Unfortunately, that was a lie and those two floors – the only two with stained carpets – did not have hardwood floors, but classroom style laminate that was in that hideous grey-green by the way.

Roof – at least 30 years old. Old, but it works. You’ll have to replace it eventually.

Windows – old, but they work. (We replaced these a year later.)

Kitchen sink – the faucet was leaky, but since it wouldn’t cost $1500 or more to replace, it was fine. You know, because it did work.

Wallpaper in the kitchen – it wasn’t wallpaper. It was shelf liner glued to the wall.

Walls were repainted – this was a selling point. Turns out they weren’t painted but they were painted with primer. We think that this was done to cover up water stains especially in the basement.

When we discovered that two of the kids left posters on their walls we were going to try and return them. Behind the three posters were holes in the wall. Not the kind of hole where the doorknob hit the wall, but one the size of a baseball, the other the size of a 17″ laptop.

The back porch isn’t part of the house, therefore it doesn’t get inspected. This also looks like an illegal addition, which will cause us problems if we want to change anything.

The garage isn’t part of the house so it isn’t inspected, so they didn’t find the termites that resided in there. Did I mention that it was an ATTACHED GARAGE? Still not part of the house.

They were ‘kind enough’ to leave us their lawnmower and paint to do touch ups. Very nice. The lawnmower worked once and the paint was dried up. Neither of these are things that you can just throw out into the garbage. They need a special pick up which costs more money.

 

There was literally an excuse for everything we questioned. Either they weren’t inspected because they were considered ‘personal property’ – wood stove, fridge, above ground pool or the inspector said, ‘it’s very old (or original*), but it works.”

But it works is the bane of our home buying experience. I was crying by our move-in day.

We had to wait for the radon test, but let’s face it, the way our luck was running, it would come back fine.

(*The house was built in the 50s, so it was at least fifty years old. The septic system and the hot water heater and the pipes are all original. I think the windows also.)

I may have said this before, but the only one who dealt fairly and honestly with us was the mortgage consultant and the bank. That is hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

 

Another post will be about the problems NOT found by the inspection, but discovered after the closing, literally, after; almost immediately.

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