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Goner Message Board / Memphis / Memphis Homeowners, part 2
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 12:08 pm
So... everyone gave such good advice about loans, etc. to miss saispas awhile back that I used it to my benefit as I was looking for a lender. My loan situation is now sorted out and I am quickly closing in on an offer I made on a house over the weekend. Now I need to know if anyone can recommend a good, licensed home inspector who will write a clear report and provide digital pictures as needed. Anyone got any recommendations on building inspectors to use or, more importantly, to stay away from?

My realtor suggested Joe Bailey or Rick Morris with House Call Inspection Service, but I am a bit leary of using inspectors specifically recommended by my realtor, who is eager to close the sale! Help, please!
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 12:38 pm
i have no info, but let me congratulate you gina!!
best of luck
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 1:43 pm
I got no help for you, sorry.
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 1:45 pm
Amerispec here in town has a good rep.
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 4:14 pm
Thanks, sweet ladies! I'm really excited!

Thanks, colin - the house appears to be very well maintained (I'm pretty familiar with residential construction stuff and it looks good to me), but of course I want be sure there isn't any scary, hidden damage/repairs. If some nice goners have had particulalry bad experiences with certain inspectors, I want to know which ones so I can avoid 'em.
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 7:03 pm
i used joe bailey. suggested by the realtor. definitely a lot of obvious things that should have been made obvious by an inspector, but weren't. roof was leaking. joists were cracked. there had been termite damage.

seemed like "inspection" consists of going through a pretty standard checklist of stuff, which might not really be "tell me all the potential problems you can find with this house." take your time and dig around. i definitely didn't.

that said, joe bailey was very professional and helpful. i was pretty overwhelmed & definitely could have asked better questions.
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 7:50 pm
And also, some of them tend to find things that really arent that big of a deal that scare first time homeowners. Its good once you get the report to consult your agent and a third party to decide what is "really" an issue and whats not. Leaky roofs, cracked joists, termite damage are definitely readily observable defects and deserve attention. Things like a loose toliet, pelling paint(not of the lead based nature) or a slow bath drain are probably not cause for alarm(but never hurts to get checked out). Its hard to sort out whats important and whats not, but I will say this. Lots of folks that buy older homes in midtown are always concerned when the inspector states in his report that there is settlement throughout the house, meaning the floor seems uneven in places. Lots of homes in midtown are very,very old and there is a certain amount of settlement that is typically associated with these homes. There may not be a problem at all, just the fact that the home has been standing on its foundation for 75+ years. I have several friends that have bought houses in the last few years and didnt get an inspection done in order to save the $250-$350 it usually costs. Really, really stupid! These guys have alot of liability on them and typically do a really good job. I think its well worth the money and good luck with it all.
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 8:45 pm
What neighborhood did you end up buying in, Gina?
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 9:07 pm
it's down near snowden
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 9:11 pm
Great! Congrats; I cannot believe I will actually finally be starting this process within the next 2.5, 3 months. Eek. I'll be asking you, Gina, for your tips then!
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 9:41 pm
yeah, definitely beware of "settlement" cuz sometimes the foundation can be cracked. there's some nightmarish shit going on with my boyfriend's house. the inspector failed to tell him about the foundation being screwy and the fact there wasn't enough support underneath the bathroom to support the weight of all the tile in there. he ended up having to replace the subfloor in the living room cuz of all the termite damage and rotten wood that the inspector failed to tell him about too.

so i would definitely get the inspection through someone recommended by someone on here rather than someone your realtor isn't closely working with all the time. especially if they're trying to unload the house and it's been on the market for awhile. just to be on the safe side.
Posted: Mar 31, 2008 10:31 pm
I lost a home contract and had to take out a bridge loan because of a bad inspector. I wish I could remember the guy's name (it's somewhere back in the shadowy recesses with my memories of seventh grade).

Any realtor would know who I'm talking about.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 12:26 am
I paid for an inspector, but in reality, I could've gotten my handy construction-type guy friends to do the work for free or half the cost, and still come up with the same report.
Some lenders require a licensed inspection, (HUD lenders, etc), but not all. It cost me $200 for my inspector, but if I wanted him to crawl under the house, it would've cost $200 more. But believe me, you're gonna want somebody to crawl under there before you buy it, because that's the best place for the seller to bandaid serious home problems----like plumbing and furnace probs and lead pipes.
Also, don't get suckered into the $500 home warranty scam all the real estate agents write into contracts. The seller pays for it, but they're practically useless! The warranty company will always find a loophole to keep from covering the claim. Happened to me and happened to a lady I work with.
I'd use my bargaining power toward something else of equal value, like carpeting or appliances.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 8:26 am
i got the home warrantee for free 'cause i bought the house from a realtor and they have to include it... got my furnace fixed and a hot water heater fixed, too. but i generally agree, they're super specific on what they'll fix. kinda like all insurance. "sure, you're covered, but not for that!"
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 8:44 am
I know once upon a time Andria posted on here about the cost of the installation of her CHA. Anyone know what it could cost on a 1200-1300 sq ft home with a basement? I know it can cost more if you have to do duct work in the walls; I'd like to avoid that.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 10:37 am
too many variables on the HVAC to quote -- depends on what size/kind of compressor you want; whether the house has the necessary juice to support it (I had to upgrade my electricity just to install HVAC of any type). the fact that you have a basement is good, though -- my house was a mess to install bc they had to go thru attic but in the back of my house, there is no attic -- so just to heat kitchen/laundry room, they had to drop down.

I would never ever NOT get a home inspection. that said, most of 'em are gonna not notice some stuff. but I think in some respect they are liable. ask a LOT of questions. and, if you plan on doing ANY home renovations, beg your contractor to attend the inspection too. mine crawled all over with the inspector, and asked him plenty of questions about specific work we planned to do, and about stuff that looked like problems but were maybe okay, and discovered a few things that didn't look bad but were potential disasters.

when you write up the contract, you'll haggle with the current homeowner about what they're gonna fix vs what you will, for a bargain price. my list was pretty superficial -- a few baseboards in the kitchen, a new attic rafter, etc. I looked at approx 100 houses, and the one i eventually bought was the 6th house we'd seen. ultimately it had the best bones of anything I saw on the market, and just needed electric and plumbing work plus cosmetic renovations, plus some stuff like removing windows that were left in the interior rooms when they added on! (house was built in 1911, and they kept adding on through the '60s, so my kitchen is the former back porch, etc.)

that said, in 3 years I've ultimately spent 1/2 of the price of the house doing all the renovation work. gutted most of the kitchen and bathroom, yanked floor furnaces, laid new water pipe to the street, put on a new roof, etc. and btw, if you need a roof, I recommend bidding lower and doing it yourself -- if someone's trying to unload a property, they're gonna take the cheapest roof possible in most cases, and you don't want that!
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 12:03 pm
Thanks, everybody! I got the final papers/signed contract this morning and now I've gotta get the inspection happening. The house is near Snowden School. I really like the house and the neighborhood and am pretty excited!

Yes, I am definitely getting an inspection and wouldn't dream of not doing that. I actually have a (somewhat useless) degree in historic preservation, so I'm pretty well aware of all the things to look for as danger signs. From my own inspection, the house doesn't appear to have any cracks at all in mortar, bricks or foundation. Window and door frames, roof eaves all look solid. Only very minor surface ceiling cracks that look like they're a result of settling, not leaks or roof damage. The floors do not appear to be uneven or particularly settled - but I assume there's settling since the house was built in 1922! I do have to have a certified inspector, which means I can't use one of the building inspectors in my office as none of them are certified in TN. Drag

I'm steering clear of the home warranty. Too many things it doesn't cover! Doesn't seem worth it.

Eric - would you use Joe Bailey again, now that you have a better idea of what questions to ask?
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 12:17 pm
Oh, and the house has only been on the market since February. The woman I'm buying from has only owned it for 5 years (so she just recently went through all this inspection stuff) and she put a new roof on it 2 years ago. New central heat/air were installed as part of her contract when she moved in. She's moving because work transferred her to eastern TN.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 12:34 pm
sounds great, Gina -- congrats! one thing i forgot to mention was that in our inspection, we found a lot of weird pipes under the house. a lot were obsolete but needed proper capping off. I got the seller to fix that stuff.

do you know what kind of heat your seller upgraded from? I'd be curious as to what's left of that system (floor furnaces, gas lines, whatever).

also, re: the roof. ask to see the paperwork, because some warranties don't transfer over if the house changes hands. is it a 25-year shingle? re-roofing was expensive for me (like $7K)!

I think I used Joe Bailey too -- he was okay, prompt and timely with his report. he overlooked some stuff that my contractor noticed, though.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 12:35 pm
oh yeah, if they used window units pre-HVAC, i would definitely double-check the window sills. I had 2 windows that sagged really badly and had to be replaced.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 2:16 pm
This is so helpful! Thanks, Andria - no big home renovations planned (it's pretty great as is), but your comments were added to the long list of questions I started writing down to ask the inspector. Unless something unforeseen happens, the only things I'll be doing soon will be cosmetic stuff like minor landscaping, interior paint, and changing out ugly light fixtures - all things I can capably handle myself.
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 2:26 pm
gina - this is so exciting. i'm so happy for you!
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 2:29 pm
Thanks Andria! I still have to even see if I can qualify for a loan on my own to buy my great-great grandmom's house, but I already know the electric needs upgrading and there are some minor plumbing issues too. I am not doing the HVAC until we kick the tenant out which would at least be a year as I am having her sign a year lease so I can use that as income on my mortgage app (love that loophole!)...but yeah, I thought the fact there is a basement would help out esp. since we know we'll be paying for the electric. At least there is a brand new roof too.

Being on Watkins near Peabody, the house was likely built b/t 1918-1928 and has had window units for eons and eons. Not to mention, that duplex is, uh, kinda legendary for some off the books reconstructions by some people who post on this forum from time to time! It will need some TLC.
Posted: Apr 4, 2008 12:01 pm
Also make sure they do an extensive foundation inspection. Good on ya' for the all the due diligence.
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