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What should I ask when buying a home?

 
 
Linkat
 
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 08:46 am
We are going this weekend to look at a home to buy. We know the town, approximate size, what we are willing to compromise on, etc. We are more than willing to make cosmetic changes and depending on price even larger scale updates (like re-doing a kitchen, adding a gargage, etc.)

What we need is a home that is clean enough and able to live in without major renovations right away. For instance - even though we are willing to renovate a brand new kitchen - we would not necessarily be doing this for several months. So it needs to be in deceit working condition (and not digusting where I wouldn't want food in it).

So what questions do I ask to make sure there is not any major costly items in the next few years (ie heating, plumbing, roof) - what are the items I should be avoiding that would be very costly?
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Type: Question • Score: 10 • Views: 1,972 • Replies: 33

 
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 08:58 am
@Linkat,
Bring in an inspector and he (or she) will do a lot of that for you. You may need a separate inspector for termites, lead and radon - you'll need to check.
Ceili
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:07 am
@jespah,
Make sure the inspector is well respected. There have been problems with some of the franchise inpection companies, in that, anyone can do it and they don't have to be experts as long as they have enough cash to buy the franchise. Ask around, check the BBB and so on. In Canada, at least, it's very difficult to sue for a bad inspection and if they miss something it's on your head not theirs.
Definitely check for liens as well.
Irishk
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:29 am
@Linkat,
You might want to ask how long the home has been on the market and if it has previously gone into escrow. If it has, you could follow up by asking why it fell out of escrow, i.e., an inspection revealed structural issues or dry rot in the siding and the owners weren't willing to address the problems.

That could save you time in making formal offers, counter-offers and having to go through the process of ordering your own inspection.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:31 am
Yes, an inspector is necessary - they check everything: electrical outlets,
appliances, furnace, structural problems and on and on. A good inspector is worth the money you would spend later on in fixing up the place.

Additionally, ask about the roof - how old and if there were any leaks. If it's
replaced how long is the warranty etc. etc. Roofs are major costs if you need
to fix/replace it. Also if there is an attic, have the inspector check for any
rodents (I shouldn't have watched "Infested" at the Animal Channel)...or
any other signs of unwanted critters.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:44 am
@jespah,
We will once we get further along - once we determine we'd consider giving an offer.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:48 am
@Ceili,
We do have a friend who is a contractor so we plan on throwing specific questions at him - he may be willing to take a look through with us as well.

But yes - we will get liscenced inspector once we are ready with an offer.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:49 am
@Irishk,
yes - those are good - we actually received similar questions on the other side of things.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:54 am
@CalamityJane,
Thanks - that the type of stuff I want to know.

The type of questions I'm looking for are those to rule out homes - like you said if the roof is old where it needs to be replaced within a year - I'd rule it out. Then after we narrow down and find something that passes our tests and any obvious items - I'd bring in the inspector. I don't want to pay or drag the inspector to every house I view.
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 09:59 am
@Linkat,
Yeah that's true! You only get the inspector in later on...

Sump pump, if any, is also a major hassle point, ask how old it is.
Any plumbing problems (ask to use the bathroom and flush the toilet).
If the house is old, is there asbestos - that would be very costly to remove
in a remodel. What's under the carpet, if there is one - concrete slab or only wood (don't take anything where there is only wood underneath).
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:00 am
@Linkat,
Have you been looking on Realtor.com?

They really have a lot of information these days. It usually lists any recent updates ("roof replaced in 2010"), and they usually have a lot of photos so you can get a good idea of the place (kitchen, etc.) before you actually go there.

You also get used to the codes they use -- "fixer-upper" is usually too blatant, but something like "tons of potential" means that it hasn't exactly already reached its potential.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:02 am
@Linkat,
Check around the back door to see if there were water leaks.

If there's carpet, ask if there were pets or smokers. If it's new carpet, make sure the pad was replaced.

Make sure you actually spend some time in the various rooms; our realtor told us that the place people actually spend the most time is at the front door, while they're waiting for the realtor to manage the lock box.

How new are the appliances?

How much are utilities? They should provide you with 12 months of data.

Home Owners Association? What are the rules and dues?
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:03 am
@Linkat,
Linkat wrote:
deceit working condition

Ha!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:05 am
@DrewDad,
If there are area rugs, move 'em to see what's underneath.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:14 am
@sozobe,
Yeah - we viewed the pictures - one house we are considering - seems outdated but clean. Although in the pictures everything looks dark - not sure if it is due to the dark wood, the horrible picture taking or if it is actually dark (which we wouldn't like)
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:16 am
@DrewDad,
HOA - we won't have to worry about that - that would be a direct no from us - been there done that.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:18 am
@Linkat,
OMG. There are some terrible pictures of houses.

One had a women in her underwear talking on her cell phone.

Another had a creepy Santa statue.

And another had tons of animal heads mounted, along with an arsenal of rifles and swords. Why on earth would I want to buy your mausoleum?
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:20 am
@Linkat,
How old is the roof?
What is the type of foundation?
Does the home have insulation in the walls and attic?
Have any appliances or systems been replaced, and, if so, when?
How old are each of the appliances and systems?
Have there been any problems with the boiler?
Has the house been altered in any way? If so, are the relevant planning and building code control consents available to inspect?
Are there any major cracks in the walls or doors sticking?
Is there a dampness smell or any other sign like the walls feeling damp, water stains, paint bubbling, etc.?
How much storage space is there?
How old is the electrical wiring?
How old is the plumbing?
How old is the heating and air system?
Are there any squeaking floor boards or uneven floors?
Do all the windows and doors operate and lock properly?
Is the property graded properly for water runoff away from the house?
Check behind and under large objects such as planters, area rugs and hanging objects such as mirrors and paintings.
Check condition and safety of balconies, porches, stairs, etc.
Are there any soil contamination issues in the area?
Any cracks, loose pieces or warping of siding?
When was the last time the chimney was inspected and cleaned?
What are the conditions of the gutters and downspouts?
Does the home have existing or prior issues with its structure, including cracks in basement floors, rotted joists, or cracks in walls due to settlement?
Are there any safety issues and / or non-functional systems in the home?
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:21 am
@Linkat,
It's much harder to renovate when you're in the house. Who wants to take their toilets offline to install tile in a bathroom?

Who wants to re-pack all of the kitchen, then demolish the cabinets, then install new ones, and unpack again?


The only "easy" renovation I've done is to pull up a linoleum kitchen floor and put down tile and a tile backsplash. Even that was a pain in the neck.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:23 am
@DrewDad,
Diagonal cracks are bad. Straight cracks (that follow a stud or rafter) are usually OK.

One rusted drywall screw (makes a little bump behind the paint) is probably not an issue. A row of rusted drywall screws indicates a water issue.
0 Replies
 
 

 
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