Book News – House: Inspection


To our amateur minds, the house looked great. It’s amazing what you can do with primer and shelf liner. Seriously, but that’s probably another chapter. This is about the home inspection.
One of the things  that I found most upsetting about the home buying experience, and you will see there were more than a few was the inspection. By the time the inspection rolled around, we were certain we’d made a mistake. There were just vibes that were off since we signed the contract and put our bid in for the house. On the surface, everything seemed mostly okay, but the inspection changed that.

It wasn’t just what was discovered during the inspection that upset us, and it wasn’t just the misrepresented about parts of the house that came to light at the inspection (and after moving in), but the inspection itself and what is and isn’t inspected.

Check your own states laws, but I can’t imagine it’s much different anywhere else than it is in New York.

I’d also like to remind you that in order to nullify the contract, there must be a repair that costs at lest 1500 (for one item, not a cumulative4 total of items), otherwise you’re stuck with the house.)

We obviously wanted everything inspected and checked4d out and okayed, but we were unprepared for what wasn’t inspected and the reasons hy it wasn’t.

The list of not inspected includes:

1. Wood stove

REASON: Not a permanent part of the house (despite being installed into the fireplace. We couldn’t remove nit without a professional)

2. Refrigerator

REASON: Not a permanent part of the house. Sellers could opt to take it with them. It’s considered personal property. Not kidding.

3. Hot water heater (I’m not certain about this one, but it feels like it was left out)

REASON: If I’m correct, it is not a permanent part of the house. Sellers could opt to take it with them. It’s considered personal property

4. Above ground swimming pool

REASON: Not a permanent part of the house. Sellers could opt to take it with them. It’s considered personal property. Again, not kidding.

5. Septic system 

REASON: It need to be inspected by a septic person. In our case, the seller “did us a favor” by recently having it pumped. The problem with that is, you can’t tell if there’s a problem when it’s empty. It was also 1/3 the size that is normal for a family of 5. Our realtor gave us the wrong information, but for us that was too bad, too sad. Again, we were stuck with subpar items because of our “professional’s” advice.

6. Electric beyond making sure that there are grounded outlets near water sources, ie. bathroom and kitchen sinks.

REASON: It doesn’t matter how old the electric system is or that it wasn’t equipped to handle a three pronged plug that most electronics and surge protectors use. It’s functional and safe. Our computer was plugged into the bathroom down the hall (for several years) from the bedroom/office because it was the only grounded outlet.

7. They also don’t check fake-outs – like the upstairs bathroom that didn’t have the drain pipe connected to the sink except for show. It worked for about a week, then fell apart.

8. The same for the molding at the ceiling that is only tacked up to look good, but that fell out leaving a gaping hole.

9. They also don’t move furniture or check behind artwork which was  conveniently placed over damaged walls. In one case (of at least three) the hole was 13×9. It’s still there because we couldn’t afford to fix it with everything else we had to do.

10. Garage

REASON: Not attached since the mudroom was added after.

11. Back

REASON: Not original to the house. It also was probably not to code and if we wanted to replace it, we’d probably be denied a permit.

12. Outside masonry

13. Fence

REASON: Not a part of the house itself. Also, and this is amazing, when they had their chain link fence installed no one was home, so the fence is in the wrong place and our neighbor has about a foot of our yard and trees that we of course, pay for with our taxes.

14. There is also no accounting for age of appliances (even if it contradicted what you were told by the real estate agent) as long as they worked or could be repaired.(Including the furnace. Yep, our furnace didn’t work at inspection, but was repaired by the seller, reinspected, and therefore it passed the inspection.) 

The age of the appliances and other items weren’t so much the fault of what was or wasn’t inspected, but with the real estate agent, the dishonesty of the sellers, and the naivete and inexperience of most home buyers. One example was that we were told the refrigerator was new, maybe they’d gotten it six months. I felt funny opening it; it was their home, their stuff. OPEN EVERYTHING. There was a shelf missing, and when we went to replace it ourselves, at our own expense, in looking for the serial number to order the part, we discovered that the refrigerator was at least ten years old.

The roof, hot water heater, and furnace were at least thirty years old.

The septic was original, about fifty years old.

We were told by the seller, the real estate agent (ours), and the inspector that we could install a dishwasher. It was a simple matter of getting the appliance. They could not have been more wrong. When we had the electrician in to do some upgrades (we coujldn’t afford all that we needed, and still haven’t had it done), we were told that in order to put in a dishwasher, we’d lose an entire cabinet, probably two, and we’d need both an electrician and a plumber plus someone to install it into the cabinetry. Suddenly, our $200 dishwasher was going to be upwards of $2000 or more. We didn’t bother to get an estimate.

One more thing, try to know everything about your neighborhood. We were completely unfamiliar with the area we were buying in other than that it was an excellent school district and relatively low taxes compared to other similar areas near the state capital. We went through everything, the inspection, the walk through, and finally, the closing. After the closing, we returned to the house with my mohter-in-law and our kids, and discovered to our chagrin, and complete surprise that we were in the direct flight path of the local Air National Guard station.

In all the times we’d visited the house, not once had a plane flown overhead. Unbelievable that this kind of thing doesn’t need to be disclosed.

I know sometimes it’s not possible, but do your research. Ask people who were satisfied with their inspectors and real estate agents for recommendations. Check the better business bureau and chambers of commerce. Check consumer protection agencies.

Your house won’t be perfect, but at least the things that need work will be more expected than not.

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