Inspecting Our Potential Home
At the beginning of this year, my husband and I began searching for our first home and found one, making us officially under contract. Although the property was being sold as-is, our Realtor, Julie of the Julie Anne Real Estate Team, encouraged us to complete a home inspection. She explained that conducting a home inspection would not only help us discover any issues we™d want to address upon obtaining the home, but it would also give us leverage in negotiations or even a reason to walk away from the sale. Even with an as-is property, we could walk away during the attorney review and inspection period and get back our earnest money deposit.
On a dreary Friday morning, we met with Jerry Young of AllCheck Inspections at our potential home in Wheaton. Although being outside was a bit unpleasant, completing the inspection on a damp day would immediately uncover any leaks or moisture issues. We began by walking around the house. Jerry started with the faÃ§ade, checking the garage door, coach lights, gutters, windows, front door, and even the driveway and walkway. You name it, he examined it. We circled the house, even reviewing the gate to the fenced-in backyard, the patio, and the lawn itself!
As first-time homebuyers, we knew very little about repairs and maintenance. During the inspection, however, Jerry gave us mountains of tips and advice. As he inspected each item, he explained how to fix or update things and how critical those improvements were. My husband had quite the to-do list from just the exterior of the house!
After about an hour, we made our way inside, where Jerry went room by room, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, trying to find anything and everything that would require maintenance or repairs. He ran all the faucets, checked every power outlet, and ran every appliance to see how they worked. It was quite an overwhelming experience, but it gave us a real perspective on what we had in store.
For the most part, the house was in excellent condition. It had been empty for more than a year, so there were some minor maintenance issues as a result. And although the previous owners had recently updated the appliances, roof, hot water heater, furnace, AC, and sump pump, the electrical panel was a bit out of date. Also, the house had a washing machine, but no dryer, which we found a bit odd but didn™t mind purchasing ourselves. With Jerry™s guidance, we were pleased to learn that most of the maintenance required would be relatively inexpensive or easy to do ourselves.
In addition to the home inspection, we asked Jerry to conduct a radon test. Radon is the decay product of radium and present in almost all rock, soil, and water. Because levels are dependent upon soil chemistry, the levels present in a house will vary depending on the local environment and the home™s ventilation. Our home is very tightly sealed and has dirt-floor crawlspaces in the basement, so the levels were slightly elevated. When we discovered this, we were able to use it as a bargaining tool to obtain credit for radon mitigation.
Having gone through this experience, I would recommend every homebuyer get a professional inspection, regardless of your contract. If for no other reason, it will give you peace of mind about the condition of the house and the potential issues you may face once you own it.
We found a house, put in an offer, and passed inspection. The next step was the closing, which is where we would hand over our hard-earned savings and sign our lives away. While it was certainly scary, it was also very exciting, and we were looking forward to getting the keys and settling into our new home! Stay tuned for my next installment for all the details.
Debra Berkowitz McCraw is a freelance writer and editor based in the Chicagoland area. Learn more about her on her website, www.debrabmccraw.com.