Jun 052019
 
Probably not a good 'Flip' Home.

Probably not a good ‘Flip’ Home.

While many of us in real estate roll our eyes at HGTV it still seems to inspire some investors (especially new ones), there is gold in those old homes. It is a sellers market and we’ve found you can sell just about anything with 4 walls, somewhat stable foundation, and a mostly intact roof. Add the late night infomercials of rich guys sitting around a pool peddling their guaranteed ‘Home Flipping’ plan, and we often get calls from these ‘Renovation Investors’. There’s a little more to this ‘gravy train’ than what they tell you.

First thing to consider, are you a full-fledged contractor that has your fair share of remodeling experience? If not, you’ll have to factor in labor costs to the major part of the renovation. And unless you have a reliable contractor, be ready for major headaches on this part alone.

Second, how much cash you have lying around? It can be difficult to finance the purchase a home in need of a lot of work. Lenders don’t like to take a chance on a home with major needs so the majority of the cost will be in the form of cash or some other secured credit line.

Third, are you ready for surprises? Any contractor will tell you it doesn’t take much to derail a project when demolition uncovers hidden problems. If you work on a tight budget to flip your home, you might want to have a plan B.

Finally, do you have a seasoned real estate agent to work with who knows a bit about home renovations? Buying a home to flip can be profitable or not depending on the location. A good agent can tell you the best markets to invest in knowing the activity and the best eventual post renovation sale price. Your agent can also keep you from ‘over renovation’ as in adding costly features to the home that don’t fit with the area.

So, if you think you can handle the first 3 items you’re good to go because The Derrick Team is here to help you with your ‘Flipping’ real estate needs. Feel free to call or text 317-563-1110 or visit www.DerrickTeam.com for more information. And if you want to make your own HGTV show, well we’ll see what we can do about that too.

Apr 012019
 

While I won’t say I’m an expert with this issue, I’ll go over things I’ve learned and experienced with what water or moisture can do to a home. Since most if not all of a home is made of wood, water intrusion can rot the wood leading to deterioration of the structure itself. And excess air moisture can lead to many issues including the dreaded 4 letter word: Mold.

Any time we visit a homeowner during a seller’s consultation I have a checklist I review while doing the first walkthrough. First, I start at the top and try to physically access the roof condition and try to confirm with the homeowner the age of the roof. In the past few years this has become more important for both the buyer and the lender along with the buyer’s insurance company. For the buyer an old roof means an expensive repair in the near future. The lender is worried about a leaking roof damaging the home. The insurance company now looks at an old roof as high probability of a damage claim. If you know your roof is older than 15 to 20 years, expect that to be an issue when you sell. But also consider replacing that old roof sooner to stop you from paying out even more when it leaks and does extensive damage to your home’s structure. Leaks can be slow to become obvious to you and by then a lot of damage can be done. At the very least if you’re not sure about your roof’s condition, have it checked by a roofing professional. Once you are sure your home is protected from falling water you’re one step closer to a dry home.

The next item I’ll go over with a homeowner is the foundation, basement, or crawlspace. Basements in central Indiana will often at least be damp. Older ones leak some or in some cases a lot. Waterproofing can be expensive but it’s important to have a dry basement or crawlspace. Most of this area has higher water tables and when it rains a lot water will collect in the ground around your home and by nature seeps towards lower areas such as your basement or crawlspace. If water stays there long, it results in ‘biological growth’ that often is in the form of mold. And if mold if allowed to flourish it can be very expensive to remedy. But the one thing most people miss is that mold is not the problem, it’s the wet condition that allows it to flourish. Also keep in mind the wet conditions will rot wood so after a long time the home can be structurally weakened. It’s very important to remedy wet basements and crawlspaces for many reasons and ignoring them can result in a very expensive bill to fix the moisture issue, structure damage, and remediate the mold.

Damaged roof decking from excessive moisture in the attic.

Damaged roof decking from excessive moisture in the attic.

And finally, there is the moisture issue that we’ve dealt with multiple times that really surprises the homeowner: the attic space. The design of homes has changed a lot in the past 100 years and now newer and updated homes are being made more airtight to save in energy costs. While older style homes could ‘breathe’, newer homes tend to keep everything inside, including moisture in the air. Showers and baths, washing clothes and dishes, and air humidifiers all add moisture to the air, especially in winter when cold temperatures outside dry the air. This moist, warm air eventually escapes into the attic and condenses on the cold roof decking if the attic is not properly ventilated. Properly ventilating the attic is something that has only recently incorporated in building codes. We’ve seen many times that in older homes the homeowner was unaware that this moisture in the attic was slowly causing mold and rot of the roof decking. In a few cases the entire roof and decking must be replaced just because it was missing a few vent holes.

The main thing to take away from this article is that you shouldn’t ignore your home maintenance. And pay special attention to water intrusion, from above, below, or within, as it probably contributes to some of the most expensive home repairs if it’s found too late. With a good roof with proper venting, watertight painting, good caulking on siding and windows, and good drainage away from the home, you’ll be way ahead of any of these water intrusion surprises.

Want a free no obligation sellers consultation on your home? Feel free to give The Derrick Team a call at 317-563-1110 or contact us here.

 

 

 

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

 

Dec 072015
 

When I purchased my first home back in 1985 I was in the same situation as many first time home buyers: I had more energy than cash. So it was natural that any home in my price range would be a little rough. But I had basic carpentry and general home repair skills that I learned from my dad so a little work didn’t scare me. The home I purchased had been built during WWII and was a solid little home. But it did indeed need a little attention.

The first project my buddy and I attacked was the wobbly toilet. That ‘little’ project turned into replacing most of the rotten bathroom floor and the cracked leaky toilet. We did this while the girls kept reminding us that it was the ‘only’ toilet in the home so we had to get it done in one afternoon. We did get it taken care of and over the course of several years I did quite a bit of those little (and sometimes big) projects. But I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and never really gave it much thought.

Today many first time home buyers are in a similar situation as they’ve grown tired of paying high rent but don’t have a lot of cash to buy a ‘move in ready’ home. What this article will discuss is some of the more expensive items to look for when searching for a ‘fixer upper’ so you don’t end up with a ‘money pit’ that needs a lot of money (that you didn’t have in the first place).

When looking at lower price point homes one of the first things to check is if it has a private well and / or septic system. You don’t need to automatically avoid them but understand the possible costs if either (or both) are in bad shape and need repaired or replaced. I’ll be writing another blog post about them in the near future. If you are looking at newer production homes which are commonly found in some areas with affordable prices you typically avoid issues with your water and sewer because they are provided through the local town or city.

Next you want to look for possible foundation issues as anything wrong with the foundation affects the entire building. Major defects such as crumbling foundation walls or sagging floors can be very expensive to repair. If the home has a crawl space, you’ll want to be sure and find out if anything has been done to it lately and be sure and have it inspected as we see a lot of moisture problems show up that the owners were not even aware of while living there. One of the advantages of homes with basements is you can usually easily see if there are any moisture/leaking issues.

After that be sure and look up at the roof and gutters as nothing ruins a home more than a leaky roof. Check on the age of the roof if the seller knows and look for stains in the ceilings anywhere inside the home. Make sure when you hire an inspector they will go into the attic to look for any staining or damage on the upper framing structure.

The reason I mention the above items first is they all will pretty much require you hiring a company to repair / replace and in each case the costs are usually very expensive and not usually covered by typical homeowners’ insurance. There are many other items such as plumbing, electrical, heating & cooling systems that need to be checked so you’ll want those inspected as well. Again you probably will need to pay someone to repair these items unless you have knowledge of these items or have a friend / family member who works in that trade and owes you a favor. You can also ask about a home warranty when you purchase your home to cover some of the mechanical systems (heating /cooling, water heater, etc) the first year you live there.

So what kind of home isn’t a ‘money pit’? Generally, you want a home that is in need of updating (which can be a personal opinion), fresh paint, new flooring, or just general cosmetic issues that you or a general handyman can take care of for materials and low (or free) labor costs.

HomeSweetHome

Home Sweet Home

The home that we now live in was a ‘fixer upper’ I purchased in the ‘90s that I knew needed major repairs. But I also knew it was a solid home because I had it inspected and it is in a great location in Hendricks County. I have since gutted and redone almost everything myself or paid contractors for items beyond my knowledge and/or abilities and we now have a great home that is perfect for us.

Buying a ‘fixer upper’ isn’t for everyone but sometimes the current financial situation requires you to at least consider a home that needs a little fresh paint and new flooring. Just remember to look at each home with the idea of it’s potential after you do a little work to ‘personalize’ your home. It’s actually nice to sit back and look at your work and take pride in what you’ve accomplished.

If you are thinking of looking for a ‘fixer upper’ be sure and give us a call. We’ll be glad to help you find a home that needs a ‘little’ attention. Or one that needs a ‘gut job’ if that’s what you are up too. I don’t mind crawling round a home with a flashlight to help point out obvious ‘major’ issues with a home you are interested in. While I’m not a trained inspector I can at least point out some things that will keep you from wasting your money hiring an inspector to tell you the home ‘has issues’. Call or text The Derrick Team today at 317-563-1110, 7 days a week. We’re here to help!

Jan 092010
 
This 'lean to' was to far gone. I had to tear it down and build a new garage.

This ‘lean to’ was to far gone. I had to tear it down and build a new garage.

Are you handy person who likes to bang nails, cut wood, and slop some paint on the walls?  Well I’m that type and am still working on my old farmhouse I purchased back in 1997 known as ‘This Old Dump’. I had a plan to have the total project completed in 5 years. 13 years later I’m still working on that 5 year plan. I now know that it will never be ‘complete’ as I’ve already started redoing things that just seemed to need a little more attention. And of course sometimes one just likes to change their mind….

Why do I mention this now? Well there are a flood of older homes listed for sale that need a little TLC. Many are bank owned and the prices reflect that because the banks do not want to be homeowners.

Maybe you are looking for your first home. Youth helps as many projects require a lot of physical work, I know as I don’t put in the long days on projects now like I did many years ago when I worked on my first home in the 1980’s. Older people may be looking for something to put money in as an investment. They just need to be aware that it can take awhile for the home to increase in value as the market drives that, not what you put into it. Then others want to become landlords and buy homes as rentals.

Whatever reason you are looking, now is a good time to look for these deals. With my personal experience with my own adventures of This Old Dump, The Derrick Team is ready to help you search and purchase a great deal today! Call or text us today at 317-563-1110 or use our handy Contact Form.

 

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