Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What are you buying?

There's a lot of things you don't get to know before signing a contract to purchase a house—as a buyer, you don't get much information about the electrical system (did the seller actually know what he was doing on that DIY work, or did he just grunt and claim to know?), the plumbing (are there roots in the sewer line, or is the sewer line broken?), the heating and air conditioning system (why is the carbon monoxide detector beeping?), or many of the other systems which make up a house

Simply put, a buyer cannot not sign a contract to purchase a house—a buyer can only sign a contract to purchase what he or she believes a house to be. If the buyer believes that all of the systems of a house are in good condition—and bids accordingly—then the buyer deserves to know if the house actually is what he or she believes it to be. There's a lot of money on the line.

That's not the same as “making sure that everything is okay.” Not even close. Making sure that everything is okay requires that everything is okay to begin with, and even then there's still a catch: the definition of “okay” varies from one person to another. A buyer's definition of “okay” is almost always higher than that of anyone else involved in a real estate transaction, and that's why inspections are an important part of real estate transactions. Whether everyone else in the transaction is honest, a crook, or simply ignorant of their merchandise, the satisfaction of the buyer should be the goal of every real estate transaction, and an inspection can go a long way towards ensuring that satisfaction.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Everything is not okay, but that's okay

As a buyer in a real estate transaction, why is it important to have an inspection?

The answer is not “to make sure everything is okay.” In all of the homes I've looked at, not once has everything been okay. Not in the half-million dollar homes, not in the $50,000 homes.

In a perfect world, an inspector's job would be to confirm that everything is okay—that is, to confirm that the contractor of this new house installed everything properly, or to confirm that the seller of this old house maintained everything properly. I would like to live in that world.

But I don't.

Since this is the internet, let's start this discussion with a black-and-white example: would you bid $100,000 on a house that needs $10,000 in roof work that you don't know about? You would, but only because of what you don't know. If you knew that it needed $10,000 in roof work, wouldn't you bid $90,000? Would you even consider buying it at all?

In many cases, you don't get to know all about the roof's condition before signing a contract to purchase a house. The seller may tell you that the shingles were installed last year, but do you know if they were installed properly? Do you know if last month's hail storm did any damage? Do you know if there are any manufacture defects which could cause insursability issues?

And that's just the roof.

Part 2: What are you buying?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Then and now

Things have been busy, so the blog slowed down. Time to get things going again with a short picture post, which shows part of why things have been busy.



Deep stuff. More later, inquiring minds!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chimney removal

Steve Nordheus, the City of Norfolk's structural inspector, knows the road between his office and my house quite well. The fact that the two are only separated by five blocks doesn't hurt, but he's been here quite a few times.

The first time he came out, Steve commented on the chimney in my house. The house is a bungalow design—basically a square, prior to multiple additions. The chimney runs up through the center of that square, which determined the location of all of the walls—and, consequently, the doors—in the house. The wall which divides the bedrooms (north) from the living and dining rooms (south) is off-center because it was built next to the chimney. The wall which used to divide the living room (east) from the dining room (west) was built on the west side of the chimney, resulting in a slightly larger living room space.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rotted sill plates?

This is one of the things I try to help people avoid—replacing rotted sill plates (the board with the nails is a temporary replacement). Not a fun job!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Don't like code requirements?

Now for part 3. From Alan Pickrel, Building and Electrical Inspector for the City of Columbus Building and Development Department:

As far as the ice shield, we don't enforce it—the builder's association went before the city council and got it opted out. However it is a strong recommendation to [install] it from the building department. It's just that they took that part out of the code.

Fantastic—the builders are determining code now. Nothing new, but what's the point of setting regulations if those regulations can be modified by those whose actions are subject to the regulations? Let's try that with DUI laws and see what happens.

In the installation instructions for their shingles, Certainteed and Tamko call for the installation of ice and water barrier. GAF and Owens Corning highly recommend it—possibly because they manufacture their own ice and water barrier products, but certainly because it results in a superior roof system. Unfortunately, many roofers don't appear to care about producing superior results.