Do you suspect mold in your attic? Wonder why it’s there? Don’t just clean it! Stop it from happening again. Most likely its due to poor air sealing. Yes attics need ventilation to the outdoors typically, however thats not what causes the fungal growth. Humid Indoor air migration from your living space to the attic which condenses on the sheathing is the most common cause… but usually the last thing fixed. Did you know that your body puts about a 1.25 liters of water a day into the air in your home just from breathing and sweating? or that a family of 4 can put about 3.5 gallons of water into your indoor air on a normal day? Mold only needs 3 things to grow. Mold spores (they are everywhere) organic material (dust on your walls is enough) and moisture. All you can combat is the moisture. Get rid of the moisture feeding the mold, and you get rid of the mold. Simple as that. Next time you have mold remediation done in the attic ask if they solved the problem, or did they just prolongue the inevitable.
The big question, “Should I get a home inspection on new construction?” Talk to any Home Inspector and they are going to say YES of course, but is this a biased opinion? After all the inspector is getting paid to inspect. Why wouldn’t they say yes? Maybe they just want a nice simple smooth inspection. Besides a brand new home won’t have any issues right?
These are all great questions and you would be silly to not question the things your paying for. What follows is MY opinion, and yes I am also a licensed Home Inspector that gets paid to inspect old homes and new homes, but I got into this business to help people and spread integrity and knowledge to every homeowner, not to leave a bunch of dissatisfied clients in my wake.
First I will start by asking YOU a question…. Why do we even need Home Inspectors? The number one answer is: because every home is degrading the moment it is constructed, so things will always eventually need to be repaired or maintained…… That being said PROPER building practices will keep that degradation at bay as long as possible.
What do I mean? Every building is constructed using materials that do not last forever. Some materials last longer than others, but none of them last. The longer lasting materials are used at the front line of the battle to hold back the harsh elements such as the sun, rain, insects, rodents etc. So with that in mind… if those front line defenses are installed IMPROPERLY then what do you think happens? The building as a complete system is at risk of premature degradation.
Proper installation methods have changed tremendously in the last 100 years, and even the last 10 years. These building practices are still changing every year due to research, and due to the good old fashion “learning from our mistakes” method. Obviously this means that older homes will most likely be constructed in a way that does not meet current installation methods, and we can all agree that a home inspection is a must on older constructed homes. Especially if it was built in the 80’s! IMO
Now lets get back to new construction. How many new homes do you see being built? There are A LOT. The issue here is that in states such as New Hampshire, there is no license requirements for General Contractors, or for Builders. New and old Builders and General Contractors do not have to pass some big test to be in business. They just simply need the funds and means to start building. We all have heard of one or two builders in our home towns that are infamous due to their building practices and unhappy buyers. Yes these homes are inspected as they are being built by the local town ordained Building Inspectors. However, the building departments are typically understaffed in each town so covering all of the necessary inspections on these new homes can be tough, and sometimes rushed. So things just simply get missed during the construction process. None of us are perfect. The other issue that goes with this is that it is human nature to want to make a PROFIT. Builders would not be building unless there was some money to be made by doing so. Of course to make more profit from a project you can cut corners by using cheap products, cheap labor, or flat out skipping things that are needed. That means your new home is most likely being built by sub contractors who are the lowest bidder. Why do you think their bids were the lowest????? Stack that up with the fact that we all make mistakes and you are bound to have a Brand New Home with issues right out the gate.
So, why get the inspection? First, To attempt to rectify these mistakes as soon as possible. Fixing a problem now reduces the issues in the future. Second, To teach the new home owner as much as possible about the home they are buying. Like showing them maintenance items, what type of HVAC systems the home has and how they work, how to shut off the water or boiler/furnace to the home in an emergency, and to simply answer questions that we all know we should ask, but feel dumb asking because we think we should already know. Well that’s just not the way it is. Even Home Inspectors are learning new things every day.
That’s my thoughts on this subject and I’ll leave you with another question.
Why shouldn’t you get a home inspection on new construction?
So you made an offer to buy a home and your Realtor just told you that you NEED to get a Home Inspection. Ok then. What next?
First things first. You need to find and hire a Home Inspector and you probably only have 7 to 10 days to schedule all of your inspections per your purchase agreement with the seller. Not to worry, most Home Inspectors are use to rushing around last minute. You may get a list of local Inspectors from your Real Estate Agent, or you may have to look for one yourself. If you use Google or any other means just be sure to check if they have 5 star reviews. The more the merrier! Like NH Home Inspector LLC at www.nhhomeinspector.biz.
Or just ask family and friends for suggestions.
Your Home Inspector will ask you an array of questions like how large is the home? Where is it located? Does it have a private well or septic? These questions are to help figure out the cost of the inspection and to see if you are interested in getting water sample tests done, Radon tests done, or a septic evaluation. I recommend all of these if applicable! The cost of your standard home inspection should be about $350 for a small home/condo and about $50 more for every 1000 square feet. This is just an estimate and every Home Inspector has different pricing.
Other services and pricing commonly added to a Home Inspection are as follows: (if done during and inspection)
Radon air testing- $80 to $120
Radon water testing- $50 to $100
Standard water testing- $100 to $150
Septic evaluation- $230 to $350
Other less common services:
Limited (spot) Mold testing- $150+ depending on how many samples taken
Full Mold Testing- $400+ depending types of samples, and how many taken.
Lead testing- $400 to $1000+
Well Flow Testing- $75 to $350
Next you will schedule a time and day for your home inspection. You will want to be at the inspection if possible. This way you can see in person the things your inspector calls out, and you can ask him/her as many questions as you can think of. Yes ask ask ask. This is the best opportunity to learn as much as you can about your soon to be new home. The inspection will last between 2 and 4 hours on average.
Things you will want your inspector to do, and the good ones will do no matter what:
On the exterior of the home your inspector will/should –
Walk on the roof if possible. If too steep it should be observed from a ladder, or a drone, or extended pole camera.
Check the outside of the chimney and the chimney top.
Check the siding, trim, doors, and windows.
Check the grade of the property near the home.
Check retaining walls and drainage.
Check decks, porches and garages.
Check for visible and obvious structural issues.
On the interior of the home-
Check all walls, floors, ceilings and interior doors and a handful of windows.
Check the basement and or crawlspace.
Check the attic.
Check all visible plumbing and fixtures.
Check most electrical receptacles and lights.
Check the electric panel and grounding.
Check the heating equipment, water heater and fireplaces etc.
Check stairways and railings.
Check all ventilation and AC’s if the temperature is above 65 degrees F
Test all appliances.
Now that you have a better idea of what your Home Inspection will consist of, here are some tips on how to know you have a great Home Inspector. Your Inspector should be kind and patient with you. They should have a non biased attitude toward the home. They should be able to answer many technical questions as well as ideas on how to fix the items that are being called out as defects. Your Inspector should be taking his/her time and even explaining how systems work in the home. Inspectors that are in a rush tend to miss things. That being said it is common for small things to be missed. No Inspector is perfect. Your inspector should not miss the big ticket items however.
Do not confuse “Shiny Offers” with great inspectors. Glitz and Glam Inspectors often offer things like 90 day warranties (which are actually only 22 day warranties) This does not necessarily mean they are good at what they do. In fact some Inspectors hide behind the glitzy things to appear more professional and to reduce their own liability. A great Inspector will stand behind his/her Inspection and offer help in a dispute even without a shiny 90 day warranty. This does not mean all warranties are bad. Just be warned that not all Inspectors are the same. Not all cheap Inspectors are good, and not all good Inspectors are cheap.
Friend or foe…?
This is going to be more of a rant than an informative piece. Be warned.
Why do Realtors sometimes hate Home Inspectors? Why are sellers and buyers afraid of home inspection day? It’s easy. A home inspection can be like a wrecking ball aimed at the dreams of home buyers and a cutpurse to the seller and realtor’s wallets, especially if the home inspector conducting it lacks the tact and people skills required to do it the “right” way.
What do I mean “right” way? It’s easy. An Inspector that spits acid as he/she goes through a house isn’t helping anyone. An Inspector that has a “know it all” personality and is never wrong can be very difficult to communicate with, and communication is the number one most important part of a home inspection. A Home Inspector can know every tiny detail about a house, how it should be constructed and be great at finding every tiny issue in a home, but if the Inspector can’t pass on that information smoothly to everyone then the inspection was pointless. What is the point of a home inspection you ask? To LEARN about the home.
Is a Home Inspectors purpose to just flag a bunch of items that are WRONG with a home? The answer is most definitely no, however many of us in the home inspection business have lost our way and have simply become DEFECT police. Calling out a defect here, and another one over there, is the easy part of a home inspection. By calling out a bunch of defects in a home we can walk away feeling like we did a great job….. right??? Wrong. Our job is so much more than that.
If all Home Inspectors learned to change their mind set about what their job is then it would become a smooth and informative process every time. It’s simple. A Home Inspectors job is to communicate AS MUCH information pertaining to the property in question AS POSSIBLE. Not just defects. Inspectors need to communicate things like: How old the boiler is, what type of heating system is in the home, how does it work, what kind of siding is on the home, what kind of maintenance does it need, where is the main water shutoff, how do I turn the light on in the basement etc. There is soooo much more to it than just saying “this is wrong and that is wrong and those are broken”.
The home inspection process should be more like going to school for a few hours to learn as much as possible about the home you’re having inspected. Yes, buyers can use the information they learn about the home to negotiate the sale price. Yes, buyers can turn around and run away because the home is not what they were expecting. Yes, sellers may get annoyed about the things that came up at the inspection. Maybe the seller should have had their home inspected first before putting it up for sale. Isn’t that a great idea?! After the inspection there should not be any fear or aggravation because knowledge is power, and if your inspector did his/her job correctly then you should be leaving feeling confident about what your next steps will be. See, isn’t that SIMPLE.
The reason I became a home inspector is because I believe that every home transaction should be an HONEST and fully DISCLOSED transaction. We help the world in this way, by passing knowledge and integrity from out home to yours.
Thanks for listening!
Will Dinsmore signing off
Q- How much money can I finance for renovations through the FHA 203K?
A- There are two options available through the 203K program. Option one is the Limited 203K where there is no minimum and a maximum of $35,000 in renovations, repairs and FEES. I emphasize the term “fees” because this will ultimately take away from the total you can use for renovation costs. On average you will spend about $800 in fees for the Limited 203K version. Option two is the Standard 203K where there is a minimum of $5000, and the maximum is set by your local County. Some counties limits are over $600,000 in finance totals. A Mortgage that is to be insured by FHA cannot exceed the Nationwide Mortgage Limits, the nationwide area mortgage limit, or the maximum Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio.
Q- Do I need to hire a 203K Consultant in NH and Maine?
A- HUD guidelines require that a Certified 203K Consultant must be used for all Standard 203K loans. A Consultant is not required if you are using a Limited 203K, however we recommend using a Consultant for every Renovation loan as well as taking advantage of a “Feasibility Analysis” first to see if the home in question is even going to fit in your budget. Don’t waste time and money getting all your ducks in a row on a property just to find out that you cant afford the renovations. Another reason you need or should want a 203K Consultant is that one of the Consultants duties is to submit a Specification of Repair, or some call it Scope of Renovations or (SOR), and Cost Estimate to your lender as part of the Work Write Up. These will be used ultimately for picking a contractor and figuring out the final cost of renovations. Since a Consultant is not performing the renovations and will not make any profits from the project, he/she will have the clearest view of what those renovation costs should be. They are being paid to do so and 203K Consultants are required to use specific cost estimation numbers based on industry standards in your area. Its no secret that some Contractors can be excessively expensive, and some can undercut themselves too much to get the job which can put the entire project at risk when the Contractor runs out of money. The SOR and Cost Estimate submitted by the 203K Consultant will help keep both extremes from happening.
Q- Can I put an addition on a home in NH or Maine using the FHA 203K?
A- Yes! So long as the property in question meets HUD’s MPR (Minimum Property Requirements), it fits within your budget, and all other health and safety issues are fixed first that may have been found during the Consultants initial inspection.
Q- Can I repair or add a swimming pool using a 203K loan?
A- Yes you can repair an existing in ground style pool. There is no limit to the renovation costs for this given that the costs are warranted. You can NOT repair an above ground style pool as it is not considered a permanent structure. You will NOT be able to install a new pool, above ground or in ground, as it is considered a luxury item and luxury items are not permitted in the 203K renovations. However a Fannie Mae”Homestyle” renovation loan will allow for this if you are interested in that.
Q- Can I purchase and renovate a fire damaged house?
A- Yes, so long as there is no fire damage done to the foundation of the home and the property to be purchased meets all other HUD guidelines then you can build an entire new home on top of the old foundation. You can even add to that foundation to update the footprint of the home to fit your needs. Sooooo many options so long as you have the budget for it!
Learn the “True Value” of the Home.
The value of a home on the market is always a BIG question. Many parts make up listing the value of a home such as the home’s location, size, market comparisons, luxury items, and of course deficiencies. What do we mean by deficiencies? Basically, any negatively impacting issue with the home. A new roof, rotted siding, or a malfunctioning water heater are deficiencies. These defects and other valuable information are found during a home inspection. What you as the buyer gets to decide (unless you waived your right to a home inspection #badidea) is whether that listed value of the home is still right for you after the inspection. This is your True Value. The value of the home as you see it.
Here is an example: A home is listed for $200,000. You put in your offer and a few days later you have your home inspection done. You learn that the seller did not disclose that the home needed a new roof and the boiler was installed in 1952. They didn’t disclose this information because they didn’t know it needed a new roof and didn’t realize the boiler was a dinosaur and should be updated. You now get to decide whether that asking price is right for you, or maybe you want to ask for a reduction! (Here is where having a great real estate agent comes in to play also!). Buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life. Make sure you have the right people on your side!
Gain the ear of a Qualified Inspector.
During and after the home inspection, you get the opportunity to ask the inspector as many questions as you can about the home. A great inspector will want you to walk around the property with them as they conduct the inspection. This your chance to talk his or her ear off and pick their brain about questions like, Can I rip down that wall to join these rooms?, what kind of maintenance should be done on that oil burning boiler?, or why is there green stuff growing on the roof? Most home inspectors have a background in the building trades, and some of the great ones will even give you some rough ideas on the cost of upgrades and repairs, but you need to ask! Just like the saying goes, the only dumb question is the one that you didn’t ask. Take advantage of the ear of the inspector while you can. You also need to do your homework before you hire an inspector. You need to have the confidence in the person that is giving you these answers, or there may be a chance you are getting the wrong answers. Not all inspectors are the same.
Feel confident in your investment.
Your home purchase is not only the largest purchase you will make in your lifetime but also the largest INVESTMENT. Buying an overpriced home that has tons of deficiencies is a nightmare that will keep you up for years to come. Buying a home can already be stressful and expensive so watching someone buying a home without getting a home inspection is like watching someone stick their hand in an alligator’s open mouth. You are just waiting for the worst to happen. Instead, put your mind at ease. Have an inspector on your side when making the purchase of a lifetime. Learn as much as possible about the home before you sign. Hire a great real estate agent as well as a great home inspector and you will feel a lot more confident and at ease throughout the whole process. Knowledge is power, and power builds confidence. Feel confident about the future of your home purchase!
Will Dinsmore, Licensed Inspector and Owner of NH Home Inspector LLC