Why Inspections are so Important and What to Expect
This day has been long-awaited. As an eager wannabe investor, I called to schedule an inspection even before attorney review was over. I was going to be the most proactive home buyer and no way would inspection related problems delay closing.
That wishful thinking was chased away quickly. Due to a hang up with the utilities, it’s been 23 days since attorney review ended and we just had our home inspection earlier this week. With closing scheduled for next Friday, we’re cutting it close.
I knew this property had issues going in. Cracked plaster walls, uneven flooring, a hot water heater and boiler that should have been sent to greener pastures years ago, but I was still nervous about the inspection. You don’t know what you don’t know.
To prevent a mild meltdown, I told myself that the roof was non-existent, the foundation was crumbling, and there was a gang of woodland creatures living in the crawl space.
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
So I took a half day off from work and met The Troop at the property. Since he does shift work, he had off this day. I have a feeling his shift work schedule will be very helpful during the rehab phase.
I’ve never been a part of a home inspection before so I had no idea what to expect. Do I follow right behind and ask a million questions? Do I sit back and let the inspector work? I had no idea. So I figured best bet would be to ask.
Let me start off by saying that our home inspector, Dennis, was awesome. When he arrived, I asked if he minded if we tagged along and shadowed him. He had no problem with that.
For the most part though, we let him be and if he found anything that he thought we should note, he’d let us know after each room. When it came to the basement and crawl space though, we were right there with him. He showed us where all of the shut off valves were, what pipes and wires were what, and gave us possible solutions to small problems.
After it was all said and done, he smiled and said, “No major problems here that you’re not already aware of.” I finally was able to breathe.
Dennis also conducted the termite inspection which showed no sign of past or present termites damage and brought in another inspector for the radon test.
As promised, we received the inspection report from Dennis the following day. A whopping 43 pages.
So What Did it Say?
The inspection report had a nice “Defective Summary” at the end outlining the problems that should be addressed immediately. For this property, those are:
- Heating System- Out of service
- Hot Water Heater- Out of service with heavy corrosion
- Chimney- Cement wash is cracked and needs to be replaced
- Garage- The floor and foundation wall have severe cracks
- Eletrical- One of the circuit breakers is “double tapped”, where two wires are clamped into one circuit breaker terminal
- Flooring- The basement floors may contain asbestos but are in good condition (It is safe and legal to remain in the home as long as the materials are in good condition and the asbestos can not be released)
So not an awful list. When we close and are officially homeowners, I’ll post photos of the property and you’ll be able to see all of the obvious cosmetic fixes needed. The second floor unit doesn’t even have a kitchen.
Spend the Money and get the Inspection
Since the property was a HUD home, it came with a Property Condition Report (PCR). As you can see below, it states that there are some problems with the paint, mold and the plumbing.
Since we had this report, and knew there were going to be some major rehab work needed, we almost didn’t get an inspection. But as a newbie investor, this was a step I definitely didn’t want to skip.
Like I said, the inspection report didn’t show anything we didn’t already know, but it DID confirm that the Property Condition Report supplied with the property wasn’t super accurate.
You can see that the report states that the HVAC is functional. Nope, the boiler wasn’t even connected and all of the radiators had leaks.
The report says that the water heater is functional. Nope. Totally dead.
It’s frustrating how inaccurate these reports are.
For example, the report for this property states that the utilities were turned on and checked a month prior to my bid being accepted. But according to the utility company, the utilities haven’t been on in over a year. Someone’s lying.
So just get the inspection. If anything, it’s nice for organizational purposes to have the condition of every aspect of the home in a nicely organized document with pictures and notes from a professional.
With the inspection over and closing scheduled for next week, you’d think we’d be able to sit back and relax. Of course that’s never the case.
With this deal, the buyer is responsible for the Certificate of Occupancy (CO). So our realtor gave us a nice long list of items that need to be completed prior to close. Most are simple like installing a certain amount of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and other obvious items.
But then there were some not so easy items. After speaking with the town, we found out that we also have to make two large fixes before they will issue a temporary CO. We must:
- Fix or tear down the garage
- Fix a section of the front sidewalk that has raised and causes a tripping hazard
We would happily make these fixes, but just one problem.
We don’t own the home!
This catch 22 situation reminds me of applying for jobs after graduation. You can’t get a job without having experience, but you can’t gain experience without having a job.
We can’t fix these issues until after we close.
But we can’t close without fixing these issues and obtaining a CO.
So the saga continues. Stay tuned!