Kevin Barnaba – First Home, First Loan Helping to make home ownership a pleasant reality Wed, 07 Feb 2018 21:20:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Advice from a Home Inspector Sat, 16 Apr 2011 17:34:20 +0000 From a home inspector’s point-of-view, my advice is to buy simple and buy smart. Buy what you can afford, not what will make you look good to others. “Keeping up with Jones’s” is not reasonable in real estate. You can no longer expect a fast-rising market to bail you out of a purchasing mistake, as was often the case in the past.

For New Construction

When I say buy simple, I mean select a home of good, quality construction. When I say buy smart, I mean choose the features you need- do not be lured into closing by extravagant upgrades that you will not use anyway. Think Honda, not Jaguar. Fancy trim on the outside = more painting and places for rot. Lots of crown molding and fancy trim inside = more dusting, more painting, and more cracks as the trim shrinks.

By all means, upgrade to the stone countertop, it will last. Forego the Jacuzzi that you will use only until the novelty wears off. If you do purchase a Jacuzzi, be sure to get the optional heater; otherwise, the water cools too quickly and you will likely only use it once a month.

Despite what the flooring representative claims, hardwood floors are always a better choice than pre-finished laminate veneer. Most of the homes I inspect are not new. I SEE what lasts and what does not.

The fancy stove range that does everything is very appealing in theory. In reality, however, most individuals spend very little time cooking. Restaurant sales in America prove this, as does my experience of seeing 4-year old homes with ratty microwaves, while the 2nd oven has the factory sticker still on the inside door. Spend upgrade money on something you will use, such as better cabinets, a better faucet/sprayer, or bigger sinks.

Get the garage door opener first, as you will likely be buying curtains and furniture for your new home after closing. Besides, most people don’t have the tools, ladders and other things that you will eventually have to buy, even if you do not want to.

Here is the best advice I can give (though most individuals tend to ignore it): opt for the most energy efficient furnace and a/c unit you can obtain.

For Resale’s

Evaluate the outside of the home and the surrounding neighborhood. This is what visitor’s see first and what buyers will look at when YOU go to sell. I do not recommend the practice of buying a home in a bad neighborhood because it is cheap. It is cheap for a reason. When it comes to buying in “up and coming” neighborhoods, be very careful.

From a home maintenance point-of-view, water is the biggest concern. Water will destroy your home far quicker than termites. Leaks, rot, and mold go hand-in-hand. Elaborate roof lines with valleys and gables cost more to re-roof and tend to leak more. Once again, simple is better.

Siding is also a top home maintenance consideration. Brick is best, followed by Hardiplank (cement), vinyl is ok, but it depends on the grade (vinyl is never painted, so if you do not like the color, walk away). It is also important to note that starter homes were often built with cheaper (thinner) vinyl. Stucco is a mixed bag. There is hard stucco and EIFS. Both can have problems if the original installation was poor. Wood will require more frequent caulking and painting than any other siding.

Once you buy, here is what you need to know: Homes are not throwaway items.

That statement seems simple and almost stupid to put in print, but you would be amazed how many new home buyers treat it as if it was.

Simple repairs become big repairs if left for too long. Some can even become a nightmare. Clogged gutters can become a basement/crawlspace water problem, and if left even longer, this can cause a mold issue.

A little drip from the icemaker line can ruin floors, cause mold problems, and damage the floor on the other side of the wall. Leaking drains underneath kitchen sinks will quickly ruin the cabinet bottom. All cabinets are particleboard these days and can not withstand water exposure for extended periods of time.

Once per year, go around the outside of your home and touch-up any caulk that is cracked, hard or has peeled free. In addition, annually inspect the functionality of your downspouts during a fairly hard rain – check to see if the gutters are overflowing and note where the water runs.

In terms of the a/c unit, do not buy those 59 cent mesh filters with the flimsy cardboard frame. If you spend the extra money for the $5.00 pleated paper filter, your home will be cleaner, your a/c will work better, and you won’t be paying to have the a/c coil cleaned in 4 or 5 years. Change a/c filters once per quarter, not every month. Ensure you have the correct size- just because the old one in there is 16×20 does not mean that it is the right size. You may need a 16×25. Look inside the slot or furnace where the filter goes to determine the correct size.

Watch your garage door open and close from the inside. Check for loose hinges, as this is common. Does it go up crooked or jerky? The track may be loose, bent, or the springs may be misadjusted. Chain drive garage door openers often get loose and will cause jerking movements if left un-tightened.

In the bathroom, keep the shower curtain inside the tub and tight against the wall at the shower end of the tub. Over time, water escaping from the shower will pop the floor tile loose, rot the floor, and create mold in the ceiling below.

Reseal wood decks at least every 2 years. Wait a minimum of 4 days after preparatory pressure washing to give the wood sufficient time to dry before sealing. Double or triple coat the end grain of the lumber

When mowing the lawn, keep grass clippings away from the a/c unit. You should flush the a/c coils with a garden hose every spring. You should also perform annual Freon level checks. To do so, run the unit and see if the large diameter copper line going to it gets cold and forms condensation after 10 to 15 minutes. If it does not, it is likely low on Freon. Running an a/c unit on low Freon is the leading cause of compressor failure. It is equivalent to running a car with insufficient water in the radiator. If the unit is low on Freon, call an HVAC guy and get it topped off.

Test the T&P (safety) valve on the water heater annually to ensure it does not get stuck closed. If you are not sure what/where the T&P valve is; your home inspector can show you. I take the time to show all of this and more to my clients.

Kevin Barnaba   

CABO (code) Certified Inspector      Over 3000 Inspections performed since 1996