Looking for Defects

A concern for any buyer is being faced with a serious defect in the property you’re buying which could affect your safety or health, but more importantly, your pocketbook. While some defects may be corrected at a nominal cost, it is important to understand the categories of these defects: building construction, structural systems, mechanical systems, plumbing and electrical components.

Any purchase of real estate MUST have a provision for a property inspection. Without this protection you are risking potentially costly and unexpected repairs or replacements. A professional home inspection by an experienced person with verifiable references and credentials/certifications is recommended so that you have a clear understanding of what repairs or replacements will be needed immediately and over the next 10 years. This information will empower you to be a knowledgeable and confident homeowner who can plan and budget for the proper maintenance of your new home. Be present at the home inspection: any defects or faulty conditions will be pointed out to you. Not only is this important for you to understand what the “condition” or issue is so that you can take steps to have them corrected but a good home inspector will also provide you with maintenance tips and how-to’s regarding routine home maintenance. I have been in numerous homes where the owner hadn’t changed the furnace filter for 2-3 years!

I have also seen instances where new construction does not mean “better” or that because it’s new that you don’t need a home inspection. On the contrary I believe new construction is all the more reason why you should have a home inspection done; mechanical systems may not have been installed properly, plumbing or electrical components may not have been connected or were improperly connected. A good home inspector will point out all such flaws, defects or improper workmanship so that you can make sure that these conditions are properly corrected. In a few cases I’ve seen more problems with new construction than with 20-year old properties. If a property is at least 3-5 years old there is an operating history; if there was a problem the current owner would most likely have addressed it and fixed the problem.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen homes which have been owned and maintained by one owner for 50 years; in these situations the property might not be new but it has been lovingly maintained over the years and I can appreciate the “pride of ownership” which this reflects for them.

I have also seen where what I call “weekend warriors” will do rehab to a property such as install a new bathroom or kitchen; the materials might be new but the quality of the workmanship is careless and shoddy. It makes you question whether or not they just “covered up” a defect so that no one can see it. What problems lie beneath all of that which will cost more to undo and redo it properly?

I think having less done but done well is better than having done more but poorly. Wouldn’t you agree?

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