When you are buying a home one thing your real estate agent will most likely recommend is that you have a home inspection of the property. A home inspection will typically identify items that are past or approaching the end of their useful life, items that are broken or non functional, and things that might need repair in the future. Things like roofs, air conditioners and appliances can be costly to repair or replace so catching these items before you buy is a smart move.
If you are buying a home, particularly one that is older or has had obvious renovations upgrades or updates, a home inspection is even more important. It is difficult for a buyer to ascertain what degree of remodeling was done and whether the work was done by qualified and licensed contractors. Lowes and Home Depot have made remodeling easy as pie for weekend warriors who enjoy home improvement projects. But the knowledge and skill level of these ‘warriors’ varies and so does the resulting quality of the workmanship. Sometimes the work may look great on the surface, but the actual work may not be up to par and could potentially be costly to repair later.
The photos in the slideshow were taken from an actual home for sale that had extensive remodeling work done before being placed on the market. While the end result looks terrific, there are actually a substantial number of flaws in the work that could have potentially cost the buyer substantial amounts of money to fix down the road had they not been identified prior to closing the sale.
Fortunately the real estate agent suggested that the buyer have the home inspected by a qualified home inspector and a licensed general contractor due to the age of the home and the obvious extensive remodel work that had been done by the owner. Providing for a sufficient inspection period in the purchase contract is an important detail that every agent should use to protect their buyers in the event they decide not to purchase a property as a result of a bad inspection report.
During the inspection, the inspector identified numerous building code violations. Further review subsequently by the licensed general contractor, determined that the work had not been done or supervised by a licensed contractor. While it is not necessary to have licensed contractors perform work in your home under your supervision, it is required that the work done have the proper permits and comply with current building codes.
In the first two photos of the kitchen, you would probably never have been able to tell that this kitchen remodel had numerous mistakes such as poorly installed plumbing, a non permitted exhaust fan and electrical work that was not code compliant. These mistakes would be very expensive for the new homeowner to repair later had they not been discovered during the inspection.
The next photos show what appears at least on the surface to be a beautifully remodeled master bathroom shower and vanity. However, the work performed in this bathroom remodeling job were also not in compliance with local building codes. A building permit should have been obtained prior to remodeling this bathroom because the shower, toilet and vanity had all been relocated in order to make the bathroom appear more spacious. Poorly or improperly installed plumbing and electrical work can be very expensive to fix when a problem develops. While the new bathroom presents itself as more appealing from an aesthetic point of view, the new homeowner might have found himself with a pretty large bill at some point to correct the mistakes.
Another major item that would definitely have been missed by a buyer dealt with the central air conditioning system. The seller had installed a brand new A/C system. While this is a great selling point for a home that is over 30 years old, the inspection identified that accompanying modifications to the ductwork were done that also did not conform with the local building codes. An even more serious problem involved the air handler which is the machine that moves and filters air throughout the home. The seller had relocated the air handler from the first floor to the attic. While this may not sound like a problem, it turned out that the system itself was not properly anchored in the attic. Over time the unit could have conceivably fallen through the ceiling causing serious damage and possible injury.
Another detail of a typical inspection is looking inside the attic. The inspector checks for evidence of past or present roof leaks, insulation problems and other things like insect and animal nests. While inspecting the ductwork and insulation, the inspector discovered improperly installed recessed lighting cans and the ceiling fan (as shown in the last slide) was not properly anchored to the ceiling. It is unlikely that any of the issues discovered during the inspection would have been obvious to a buyer without the aid of the home inspection.
Generally speaking most home inspections performed by the typical home inspector are not as detailed as the one performed by a licensed general contractor. If you are buying an older home that has had obvious remodeling such as the one in this example, it is probably a wise decision to opt for an inspection by a licensed general contractor as did the buyer in this case. Although an inspection by a general contractor is more expensive, the result in this case,though disappointing, saved the buyer thousands of dollars in repairs down the road. Equally important, not identifying these problems in advance could have substantially compromised the future resale value of the home should the buyer completed the purchase. As a result of the inspection, the buyer was able to cancel the contract to purchase the home. The projected costs to make the repairs and clear the code violations were too great in relation to the purchase price of the home.
Real estate professionals keep a list of qualified home inspection companies and licensed building contractors for their clients. Be sure to review with your agent all your options when selecting a home inspection company and inspector before you sign on the dotted line. Buying a new home is the largest investment you will ever make. Most home inspections run around $300 to $400 dollars. General contractors charge approximately twice that amount at a minimum. However, the relatively small price you pay up front to have a home inspected before you buy is nothing compared to the peace of mind you’ll get in return.