New homeowners are often in for a rude surprise when they move in to their newly purchased home. One week later, the water heater breaks, or you hear the scamper of little feet above you in the ceiling. You are not alone. Over 50% of Western Washington homeowners who purchased an existing home reported at least one issue that surprised them, and was not disclosed in the inspection or by the seller.*
What the Inspector Didn’t See
The majority of home buyers are obtaining home inspections prior to purchase and making the sale contingent upon the outcome. So how could basic home issues have been missed? The most common problems reported are ones that are typically not part of a standard inspection, or are not apparent on a sunny day. These include plumbing leaks, exterior leak issues, leaky skylights, mold and pest control, and insulation and HVAC system condition. Homeowners also told us they found “unheated rooms, wiring problems, basements that flooded, and foul smells”. We’re not throwing house inspectors under the bus. It simply requires a deeper type of inspection, with specialized training and equipment, to identify these problems.
Basic Systems before Beauty
Before you start the fun of decorating your new home, we recommend getting those basic systems inspected. Ben Franklin’s old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here. You may not need or want all 4 of these, but for about $500-$750, you can rest assured your home investment is in great shape.
- Plumbing inspection – from a licensed plumber who can examine pipes, drains, crawlspaces and look for unseen leaks. While home inspectors check for obvious leaks and clogs, they do not have the equipment or training to do a plumbing endoscopy – looking at your sewer line with a video camera. Issues with main drain and side sewer are most likely to result in expensive repairs if not caught early.
- Comprehensive Home Energy Audit – from a certified auditor who will provide an in depth look at energy use, insulation, air leakage, and exterior issues, along with a safety examination of HVAC equipment. Audits are a popular starting point for making energy saving upgrades, and could be a great benefit to home owners buying an older home.
- Heating and cooling system inspection – heating, AC, water heaters and gas fireplaces can be inspected by a licensed HVAC professional in a diagnostic service. If the owner has had a recent maintenance service, request a record of that service and see if any issues were found.
- Electrical inspection – while old wiring is common in Seattle, and is often disclosed by sellers, a licensed electrician can review the safety of this wiring, and suggest modifications to protect your home.
If you’re headed to the Seattle Home Show this month, add basic systems inspection to your research list. Stop by the Washington Energy Services booth to learn more. Washington Energy Services provides plumbing inspections, HVAC diagnostic services and home energy audits with their licensed and highly skilled technicians. Contact us for more information.
* 2015 NW Energy Survey, conducted among 1065 Western Washington adult homeowners.