Sep 132018
 

It’s easy to forget when you are spending a lot of money on a house that you are buying a USED home (unless you happen to be building a new one). And often it is at least several years old, if not a few decades or more. When we first talk to buyers we find out how comfortable they are with home maintenance which can dictate how old of a home they might be comfortable with. But truth is a lot of older homes are better built than some of the newer styles. But that’s another whole blog post so we won’t go over that here. But the real key is that when you’ve successfully worked out the Purchase Agreement (PA) with the seller, you’ll want to pay and professional inspector to carefully go over the home to point out any flaws or defects the home has that aren’t readily apparent.

1308Interior10

Inspection of the furnace /AC and water heater is very important!

As you are looking at homes with your real estate agent you can usually note the basic conditions that tell you what might be needed. Because we’ve talked to our clients before showing them homes we’ll point out things and ask if they are comfortable taking care of that after the sale. For example, many homes will need some painting of some sort, and most our clients will be OK with that since they might want to change the colors anyway. But for holes in the walls or cracks in the ceiling it might depend on how handy our client is as to if that makes them move on to the next home. The reason we point this out is these are the items in the homes condition that are readily apparent and are “known issues” at the time you write the purchase agreement. So you factor those items into what you are willing to pay for the home. We help guide our clients on what their costs may be in addressing these issues.

The inspection after the PA is accepted by both parties is to look for the “unknown issues”. A good inspector will help educate you about the home you are about to purchase going over items like the furnace operation, water shut offs, etc. That’s why it’s important to be there why the inspector is doing the inspection. Unlike many agents we try to be there for all our buyer’s inspections. (sellers should leave during inspections). Inspectors will ALWAYS find something wrong, it’s their job. And remember these are USED homes. The age of the home will also determine how to look at issues as building codes have changed over the years so what’s OK in a 50-year-old home may not be for a home only 10 years old. What I like to point out is there will be a list of items the inspector finds on every home as no home is perfect. So as either a buyer or seller, don’t freak out when you see the list. That’s why we like to be there so we can mention this or that is a common problem found in most homes. Having attended many inspections, we’ve listed below many of the common items found at inspections, even in homes less than 10 years old. For a buyer don’t be surprised at the list and as a seller look this list over to see if you can address some of these items before you put your home on the market.

Electrical:

  • Loose outlets and switches (very common)
  • Open /uncovered junction boxes
  • Non-working GFCI outlets (important in newer homes)
  • Non-grounded outlets (important in newer homes)

Furnace / cooling systems:

  • Dirty filters (very common)
  • Dirty furnace (showing lack of servicing)
  • Improper ventilation for combustion systems (gas, propane, oil)
  • Indoor circuit breaker not matching outside AC unit

Windows / doors:

  • Broken seals on double-pane windows (very common)
  • Doors that won’t latch
  • Broken / cracked glass
  • Missing / damaged screens (very common)

Roof / exterior:

  • Roofing nail pops (very common)
  • Loose or missing shingles
  • Loose vinyl siding
  • Roof damaged (hail damage or worn out)
  • Rotten / damaged soffits or window trim
  • Unlevel or cracked concrete patio / sidewalk / driveway (very common)
  • Gutters full of leaves
  • Improper downspouts

Plumbing:

  • Dishwasher drain without proper loop (very common)
  • Leaky pipes / drains under sinks
  • Low water pressure (common in older homes)
  • Improper water heater pressure relief valve drain pipe (very common)
  • Sump pump inoperative in crawl spaces

These are just some of the more common items that are found in just about every home. If you inspected your current home today many of these items would probably show up. The main thing to keep in mind is you are not buying a perfect home (inspectors will also find problems with brand new builds). Use the inspection report to address items that relate to safety, security, and structural conditions. That’s what we are there to help you with as you go through what some might call the ‘scary’ home inspection. It’s usually something that all parties can negotiate items to be addressed and it’s very rare that a buyer has to move on to another home. Having a good REALTOR will help you make your deal work out, as either a buyer or seller.

Contact The Derrick Team today at 317-563-1110 with any questions on buying or selling real estate. We work 7 days a week, evenings too!

A Home Inspection Nightmare

 

Jan 182016
 

If you are looking at older homes or homes out in the country, chances are you’ll see some that have a private well as their primary water source. We’ll discuss what it usually entails and what to watch out for. But we will stress as always that you want to make sure and have any house you plan to buy inspected before you close on the purchase, and if the home has one, the well. These often go hand in hand with a private septic system. Check out our companion post on septic systems here.

What is a private well?

Older homes were often built in areas where municipal (city) water was not available. With old farm homes the original water source might have been a cistern filled by rain or a well with a hand pump outside. Fortunately, these systems normally will have been upgraded to a modern pressurized well system by now and is the system used for new homes today as they are still being built in areas that don’t have municipal water sources nearby. A typical single family home well consists of the well bored into the ground with some type of electrical pump that pulls the water out of the well on demand. In some cases, the pump is above ground and draws the water out but here in central Indiana most wells are deep enough to require submersed pump which is typically located near the bottom of the well and pumps the water up to the pressure tank. The pressure tank is used so that the water maintains a constant pressure when a spigot or faucet is opened. The pressure tank will have a controller that turns the pump on and off depending on demand. The diagram below (from Axsom-Franke Plumbing’s web site based out of Columbus IN) shows the basic layout of a system utilizing a submersible pump common in central Indiana.welldiagram

Depending on the water quality from the well there may be added filters and more commonly a water softener (due to the area’s hard water) as part of the complete system servicing a home. It’s also not uncommon to have a reverse osmosis system that further processes the water for drinking and the icemaker in a refrigerator. While each of the additions to the water service help the water quality it’s important to note none of them purify or sterilize the water so water quality is something the homeowner must always be aware of. Regular water testing is recommended just to be sure the well is producing quality water.

What to look for

A seller should have information on a well and you’ll want to make sure and review any documentation they might have. Depending on the age of the home and the well itself you’ll want to look for the equipment such as the pressure tank and if included the water softener. Both these items tend to perform poorly after years of use, and if the water quality is very hard they will wear out sooner. So if the units are older consider asking for a home warranty as they seem more likely to fail within the first year of new owners (probably due to the change in user demands).  Since the pump is probably down in the well you’ll want to know if any work has been done recently and the age of the pump if it’s ever been replaced.

wellheadWhen touring the home look for a well head somewhere out in the yard. It’s usually a 5” diameter pipe, these days typically PVC, sticking out of the ground about a foot or so that has a cap and a power conduit to one side similar to the image on the left. Note the distance to things around it as an older installation may not conform to current local ordinances. The most common issue we’ve seen is an improper distance between a well and septic system which is 50’ minimum in Indiana.welltank

Next locate the pressure tank, it’s usually located in the basement or a utility room with the furnace, water heater, etc. You’ll be able to tell if it’s a new unit pretty easily as it will look similar to the image to the right. Older tanks may have issues with keeping pressure so consider the cost of replacing it if it looks rather old. Ask your inspector to look it over carefully if it appears very old. Keep in mind the cost of replacing the pressure tank or the pressure switch which controls the pump is usually minor to the cost of replacing the pump or having a new well dug.

As far as other parts of the system (filters, water softener, etc.) are concerned, these items tend to be replaced on a regular basis so don’t put much faith if they look more than a few years old. Just count on installing new systems after you move in. We’ve found renting equipment like that makes more sense because of the improvements made to these types of systems every year. But it really just depends on the quality of the water from your well. We’ve seen two different well systems on homes next door to each other that have completely different water quality with wells of similar age.

Which brings up the final item for you to check. Be sure and order a water test when you do the inspection. Your inspector knows the proper way to take a sample and will send it to a lab for analysis. It’s not unusual for the test to show poor water quality in a home that someone has been living in. That’s when you ask for the well to be disinfected with chlorine bleach and then retested.

Don’t forget that once you buy a home with a well water system there is some required homeowner maintenance. Filters need replaced and salt added to your water softener if they are part of the system. And regular water testing is recommended. If the test shows bacteria here is a great document from a local home inspector (Center Grove Inspections) on how to disinfect your well: Water Well Care

If you’re in the market for homes that might have a well (older or rural type homes), you’ll want an agent with experience and of course The Derrick Team is here for you. Call or text 317-563-1110 today with any questions you might have.

Helpful Links:

Found this great video on shocking your well here:
https://youtu.be/MZJ6FxK6cwk

Indiana State Dept of Health information on wells:
http://www.in.gov/isdh/23258.htm

More online resources for homeowners with wells:
https://www.wqa.org/
http://www.groundwater.org/
http://www.wellowner.org/
http://www.ruralwaterresources.com/

See more details on the well diagram above at:
http://axsomfrankeplumbing.com/well-pump-installations/

 

 

 

Jan 142016
 

If you are looking at older homes or homes out in the country, chances are you’ll see some that have some type of private septic system for waste-water disposal. We’ll discuss what it usually entails and what to watch out for. But we will stress as always that you want to make sure and have any house you plan to buy inspected before you close on the purchase, and if included the septic system.

What exactly is a septic system?

Unlike a municipal (city) sewer system which treats waste-water for a large number of dwellings a private system is normally installed to treat a single family home.  In rare cases a group of homes in the country will be on a shared private system and the only thing I’ll say about that is be VERY careful if that is what services a home you are interested in. Now for purposes of this discussion I’ll show what a single household septic system SHOULD be based on current guidelines. For older homes this may not be the case so you might want to check with county health department records to see what actually is installed (if they actually have any records of it at all).

Most homes with a private septic system are serviced by what is known as a ‘gravity’ type system. The diagrams below from the Indiana Construction Guidelines document (found at the link at the end of this post), show a common installation meeting current requirements. But most installed systems should at least have a tank to catch solids and a drain / absorption field. (I saw an old farm house where the tank drained directly into the creek in back).  The diagrams include a dosing tank which is a new recommendation but not usually needed for most gravity systems. Perimeter drains are also a newer item and are often required in newly installed systems.

Construction_Guidelines_for

The basic idea is the tank will handle the solids which are partially digested by microbes and then the liquid overflow will drain out to a absorption field to keep the tank from constantly filling up with liquid. The nice thing with the gravity system is the maintenance is much simpler than some of the other types (no motors or pumps unlike the dosing tank shown in the system below).

Construction_Guidelines_flo

With regular maintenance a properly installed gravity system can last many years. What many people don’t know is that the system is sized depending on bedrooms in the home at the time of installation, not bathrooms. It’s based on how many people might live in the home at any given time.

What to look for

So now that you understand the basic function what do you look for when purchasing an home with a septic system? When we list a home with a septic we try to find out what the seller knows as far as location, last time is was cleaned (pumped) out, and if they had any issues or repairs done while living there. Also, if there were any additions / remodeling done to the home was the septic upgraded or moved properly if needed (otherwise if might be undersized if bedrooms were added or part of the drain field was covered up). This is basically what you as a buyer should want to know before you even make an offer. When looking at the home you might be able to walk out in the yard and at least locate the clean-out for the tank. Then you have an idea from there where the drain field might be as it usually will be away from the home and downhill from the tank. Look for any fresh digging or uneven spots to indicate some work had been done. Or look for standing water in that area which might indicated the drain fields are not working, especially if the water is discolored and smells like, well not good. If all looks OK from what you can tell you’ll still want to have it inspected, and in some cases your lender will require it as part of the loan approval. If everything checks good and you end up buying the home you do want to keep in mind that even if you don’t see your septic system, it does require some maintenance (see list below).  If the home is empty or is a foreclosure there is no real way to tell how well the septic will perform once you’ve lived in the home for awhile. Best just to assume the worst in that case and figure in the repair / replacement costs when making your offer.

If the type of home you’re looking for might have a septic you’ll want a real estate agent that has some experience with them and yes, The Derrick Team does. Our current home has one and they function just fine when properly maintained. In my younger days I owned a home with a system that had major problems as well. And that was no fun at all. Give us a call or text today at 317-563-1110 to see what we can help you with, we work 7 days a week.


Here is a list of recommendations based on what most septic companies see from common repairs:

  • Have your tank pumped every 3-5 years depending on usage / number of persons living in the home.
  • Take care of the absorption field as its basically a function of the volume and strength of water poured into the system so conserve water when you can. Never funnel rain or basement drainage systems into it or onto the yard area where the absorption field is located.
  • Minimize use of chemical or biological liquids and check for ‘septic system safe’ labels on cleaners and such. Even antibacterial products may adversely affect your system as there are bacterial microbes that break down the solids in the tank.
  • Don’t dump in or flush anything that doesn’t decompose.
  • Keep trees, bushes, or any building away from the tank and drain field as roots and shading will reduce the systems effectiveness and possible lead to it failing.

For more details on gravity and other systems check out this link to the Indiana State Department Of Health:  http://www.in.gov/isdh/23283.htm

 

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