“Nailing it Down”
By Dave Murnen
and Pat Beaty
Last week we talked about picking a real estate agent to help you find your dream home.
And, as helpful as a good real estate agent is in assisting you in selecting an appealing house, you will most likely want to enlist the help of other experts before you sign on the dotted line.
The home inspector
Remember this adage, ‘You have to know what’s right to know what’s wrong.’ When applied to buying a house it could save your marriage, lots of money and ulcers! Your best bet is to hire someone who knows what is right.
So before you say ‘I do’ with that special house hire a third party- neutral home inspector to be your trained eye.
Your inspector should be licensed, bonded, insured and preferably part of a reliable, reputable nationwide association. Ask for a client reference list and call them.
Finally, your inspector should be very knowledgeable about our local housing stock. After all, 47 percent of our houses are 50 years or older and many have construction details unique to this area.
The costs vary, from $100.00 on up, depending on size, age and condition of the property as well as the type of report you require. We here at ANHS recommend that you, the potential buyer be the one to select and hire your own inspectors.
Your inspector’s checklist should include the foundation, siding, roof, chimney, attics, windows, ventilation systems, heating and cooling systems, the electrical system, the plumbing, possible environmental hazards and sometimes property drainage. If you’re buying in a rural area, call the County Health Dept. for a very important septic system inspection.
The inspector’s “Findings Report” may be verbal, with you taking notes, or his complete written report. Written documentation can be a powerful tool when negotiating the purchase and may serve as a clear list of what needs to be done before or after closing.
In any event it’s a good idea for you to be present during the inspection. It is often easier to understand an issue when looking right at it, rather than just reading about it later.
As far as inspections and your dream goes, no house – especially an older one – is perfect. So, even if the inspector has concerns, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the home. If there are major problems, you may wish to negotiate the asking price to cover some or all of the costs. But remember when you finally buy the house its problems become your problems.
The pest inspection
Some home inspectors also complete a pest inspection. Others will only recommend getting one if what is observed warrants it.
Know this. A licensed, bonded, certified and insured Pest inspector is needed to give your dream property “Clear Pest.” This inspection is critical and most lenders usually require it
. You are best protected when you, as the buyer, choose an inspection company and contract this service yourself. Again, they are to be your expert.
Like so many services, your best bet for finding good inspectors is by asking your friends, neighbors and co-workers about their experiences. You can also look up inspectors in the phone book and ask them to give you client references.
A pest inspection typically costs between $75 to $200.
Their focus is to look for past and present damage created by wood- destroying pests. Powder post beatle, termites, carpenter ants, dry rot, and other fungi to mention a few.
A good pest inspection will identify any conditions known to create or support these problems. Poor ventilation, earth or concrete-to-wood contact, plumbing leaks, inaccessible areas, standing water, wood scraps, even garden bark or wood piles that are to close to the house all have dire consequences when allowed to exist.
Older homes therefore, having had more time and exposure, may have more problems. But old or new, homes having good ventilation, quality construction and timely maintenance are usually problem free and the “Clear Pest Report” guarantees it for one year.
Another good place to find a professional, objective home inspection is by giving us a call. Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services serves all of Grays Harbor County offering reasonably priced inspections as one of the many services we offer.
As a non-profit organization, our goal is to create safe and affordable housing for all of Grays Harbor. One way we do that is to help people in the purchase of a home.
Next week we’ll talk about what to consider when buying a fixer-upper house.
Dave Murnen is the construction department manager and Pat Beaty is a construction specialist at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or a member of our contractor pool? Call 533-7828 or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.