4 Things to Know About Home Inspections

How to navigate a home inspection

This summer has been so busy, and I haven’t found much time to write lately. And, quite frankly, I haven’t done anything very exciting around the house in a while. Most of my weekend projects have included unpacking final boxes, cleaning, organizing and fixing things that are broken. After a very intense weekend of fixing things that were broken, I decided that I want to share some things about home inspections that I think everyone should know.

There are certainly lessons we’ve learned from buying two houses now, and they’re valuable. Whether you’re in the market for a new home, already own one or hope to buy one someday, my hope is that this quick guide about home inspections will offer some guidance. Or a moment to commiserate. This little list I came up with are all things I wish I had known, or thought that I did know (but really had no idea.)

4 things you need to know about home inspections.(image source)

1. Getting a good home inspector is your wild card.

Please note: I said good inspector. We did this right in Denver when we bought our first home, but messed up on our current place. In Denver our Realtor was amazing and worked with great partners so when it came time for the home inspections she connected us with one of the best. She knew it was important to us (Mike) to have a ‘Holmes on Holmes’ kind of home inspection, and this guy delivered. He found every small imperfection, but more importantly, the big ones.

We were fortunate enough to have some negotiating power and moved in with all of the big problems fixed. And I didn’t appreciate this at the time, but we also knew exactly what we were getting into. There was only one small surprise, which I’ll get into in a second.

When we bought our current house, we were on a super tight timeline, trying to close in just three weeks. So, our Realtor called on the inspector who owed him a favor and got him out to the house in a few days for the home inspection, instead of the 2-3 weeks that most inspectors were going to take. The report came back a little too clean–nothing major, and only a few small things that the sellers were willing to remediate. We took this as good news, and moved forward. Unfortunately, what we’re finding now is that there was a lot of lipstick on this pretty pig.

The thing with the inspection process is that you don’t necessarily have the time to get a second (or third!) opinion. And, you really won’t know how good the inspector was until you’ve already moved in… so, here’s my advice to you: take your time to get references, read reviews and ask around to get the best inspector possible. If you have time to get a second opinion, it’s worth every dollar–I promise.

Home inspections for home buyers: 4 things you need to know(image source)

2. Pay for elective home inspections, too.

There are several items that the standard inspector doesn’t inspect and you can have a specialist come out to inspect them individually. Ask your Realtor about this, as it varies in different states. For example, Radon is highly prominent in Colorado (it’s a gas that comes up in basements from the soil) and though it’s highly dangerous it’s not required to have it tested. We had to elect to have a specialist come out and test for it.

You should also always have a sewer scope! It’s only a few hundred dollars to send a camera down the drain to ensure that all of your underground pipes are in good condition, and totally worth it to save yourself a $12,000+ expense if a pipe bursts. Especially if it’s an older home with clay pipes, don’t skip this step.

Also, get the sprinklers inspected. When we bought our first house we ran the sprinkler system every day until we got a $400 water bill. Come to find out, it was just dumping all the water out into the ground. We didn’t realize that the sprinkler system isn’t part of the normal home inspections, but I highly recommend having it checked if you can.

4 things you need to know about home inspections before you close on a home(image source)

3. When it comes to home inspections, Don’t be shy about asking her age.

Knowing how old things are in the house will help you both short-term and longterm. If the inspection reports that the water heater is in great condition, ask how old it is (It has a sticker with a date on it.) If it’s 12 years old, you’ll likely be replacing it at some point even if it’s working well now.

Make a list and find out the age of things like the HVAC, appliances, plumbing, most recent remodels, etc. Also, ask about the upkeep and find out when the last pesticide was sprayed or carpet cleaning was done.  Some of these answers will come out of the home inspections, but don’t rely on them to offer up the details. It will help you budget and plan for these expenses later on, at the very least, so don’t be shy about asking!

Home buyers: The truth about home inspections(image source)

4. Home warranties aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

I don’t know how many times I heard “you better get a home warranty!” when we were buying our first home. They seem like such a great idea, but the reality is that they’re a waste of money.

First, they only cover a limited number of items–mostly major ones. Appliances are covered, but not if they’re broken–only if they need to be replaced. Garage door openers, leaks, mold and electrical are not covered. If you do have a problem with something that’s covered,  you can call them and they’ll send out their preferred partner to check it out. They’ll charge a trip fee as well as “nickel and dime” you on several other small costs.

Personally, I prefer to call out highly-rated companies for a free consultation and then negotiate a good rate on the repair. I’ve heard from several friends that going through their home warranty has actually cost them more money than if they hadn’t.

It’s nearly impossible to buy a house without any problems, so the most important thing is to set realistic expectations for the home inspections. Part of home ownership is fixing things you don’t want to fix. I think we’ve finally gotten most of the dirty work out of our way, and I’m looking forward to getting back to decorating and settling in!

 

Renovation Reality

holly on hummingbird-bathroom renovation

I have been so consumed with this bathroom renovation project, but unfortunately, I’ve been bitten by renovation reality.

In my last post, I talked about how we’ve been somewhat forced into remodeling the master bathroom sooner that we planned. To say that the planning alone is a lot of work is an understatement! I had no idea how much effort would be involved with just getting the project started.

Homeownership is constantly teaching me something new, and I love it! Sometimes these projects are a piece of cake, and other times we’re way in over our heads. In this case, I thought I new what to expect and was just way wrong! HGTV shows make it all look so simple, which is another reason it stings when renovation reality sets in.

I thought we’d call a contractor or two, get a bid, pick out some building materials and then we’d have a brand new bathroom in a matter of weeks. From the beginning of that sentence to the end, I wasn’t even close.

As it turns out, finding a contractor is hard work.

I mean, hard work.

I just counted up the number of contractors I’ve met with over the past several weeks. Eleven.  Well, nine if you don’t count the two that never showed up for our appointment. Out of the nine contractors I actually met with, only five of them have actually submitted proposals–the others just fell off the face of the earth.

master bath renovation - holly on hummingbird

Master renovation - floor plan - holly on hummingbird

I thought that we’d be able to find a contractor rather quickly and then be able to get started within a couple of weeks. Some guys were scheduling appointments 2-3 weeks out just for the consultation! And, there were many GCs that were scheduling projects to start into November/December. Even though we did the work up front to have space plans drawn up, some of these guys took three weeks just to get the proposal to me.

It’s no secret that I have expensive taste. But, even with an extremely budget-conscious approach, this remodeling project turned out to be twice as expensive as we thought.

Twice as expensive.

The first bid we got was for $12,500. The second was for $36K even (I’m sorry–what?!) After the third bid came in around $25,000 we reached out to our space planner for a second floor plan that didn’t include adding on a powder room, in hopes that limiting the plumbing changes would help with the cost.

 

 

holly on hummingbird - bathroom renovation- floor planMaster Bathroom Floor Plan2.1-Holly on Hummingbird

 

The renovation reality is that it costs $15K-$20K to redo a master bathroom. Not $10K like we had hoped.

So, what now?

Well, it just doesn’t make sense to do this right now. As much as we tried to fight it, the reality is that we’re going to have to tear down some walls to rebuild them to tear them back down later. And I’ll have to get over it.

The good news is, we can continue to save our money and do the renovation as we had originally planned when the time is right. The bad news is, the only thing I have to show you until then are these amazing drawings of our future bathroom by Kat Black Designs.

holly on hummingbird-master bath renovation drawing

3d drawing-bathroom renovation-holly on hummingbird

Holly on Hummingbird Powder Bath - renovation