Homes are a lot like a gemstone, which is part of how I came to choose the name Agate Inspections. You can find flaws in even the finest diamond if you put it under a microscope. Just like a house – you are going to find a flaw or two - even in a brand-new house - if you look closely enough. Even those flawed gemstones are beautiful and functional, just like a house.
A thorough home inspection is going to find many of those defects. We are not doing very well at our job if we don’t find anything wrong. Even new construction is going to have some defects. You as a homeowner or potential homeowner need to decide if this is something that you can live with, or are willing and able to repair or replace, or if you simply want to move on to the next listing.
Almost everything can be fixed – but some things won’t
There are a few things that can terrify a client when they hear them, and may even scare them away from buying a particular home. Yes, there are buzzwords that can scare a client away from a home, but often those fears are misplaced and even a bit overblown. Almost any problem in a home can be repaired. Sometimes they don’t even need repair. Sometimes the fix is quick, simple and inexpensive. You should know all of the information before jumping to any conclusions. We can help you to understand what the big problems are in terms of effect or cost, what can be repaired inexpensively and easily, and what can be deferred to a long-term maintenance list.
No home is perfect and not everything will be fixed. My own home has repairs that need to be done and systems that are ready to be updated. It is an expected part of owning a home. Relax! Keep a home repair list and tackle the repairs at your own pace or as your time and finances allow it. Prioritize those fixes that may cause a hazard in the home or can get worse and costlier to repair with time. There will be new issues and problems that arise well after you have moved in – add them to the list and keep plugging away.
We can’t predict the future
I really wish we could tell you how long the roof will last or when the furnace or hot water heater will need to be replaced. It’s just not possible. We can give you an idea how old they are, how long they normally last and what kind of condition they are in now. But we can’t predict the future.
A 30-year asphalt roof in good condition that is 10 years old and appears to be installed properly with no unusual wear is expected to provide at least 20 more years of service. You can help to ensure or extend that life by keeping branches near the house trimmed, keep the gutters clear and remove the branches and leaves that build up on the shingles, especially in the valleys. That’s about as good as we can tell you if you ask how long the roof will last. We can’t tell you that there will be a hailstorm next week that damages a 2-year old roof to the point that it needs to be replaced, but it might happen.
We might miss a few things…
Although we strive to find ALL of the defects with a home, sometimes things are not found during a basic home inspection. Some problems appear seasonally, some were not there during the inspection, some are in a place that we cannot see them without taking something apart, and some we just plain miss. If somebody inspects a 40-year old house and only identifies one or two items on the report, the inspector didn’t look very hard or you have found a house that has been very well maintained by qualified professionals.
Owning and maintaining a home is a continuous process. Every year I find, and sometimes fix, things in my home that have been there and were never noticed or have just popped up. It’s a part of home ownership and homeowners need to be prepared to make these repairs or to have a resource to keep your home regularly maintained.
Leave emotions out of the final decision
It can be incredibly difficult to step back from your love of a home to see it as “just a house.” If your inspector’s list of defects and other observations seems to be long, it can be a bit overwhelming and feel like a punch in the gut. Take a deep breath and ask questions of your inspector. It’s usually not something that will put your purchase at risk.
Our report may include some things that should be done right away because they are dangerous or may lead to bigger (AKA more expensive) problems. Most of the items that we point out can be deferred and still others that don’t really require any action. It will mostly be a to do list while you own the home. Not everything needs to be done right away and a good inspector will help you understand that. Many of the recommended repairs can even be negotiated into your purchase agreement in your favor.