November 13, 2012

Lessons from a home inspection

Today I'm grateful that we only had minor bumps along the way to buying our house. And I'm grateful that I can share them so that someone else might avoid them!

Today's lesson: the home inspection.

I would echo the standard advice that you will hear everywhere...find an inspector that comes recommended, make you sure that you can be there at least for the end of the inspection so that they can walk you through and show you everything that they found (there are always going to be some little things, no matter how nice the house is!), and be prepared with questions!! Don't feel dumb. If you need to ask how to work such and such system, or who you need to call to fix this or that, or what in the world that thing is that he just told you is is the time. Now let's talk about what to do before that inspector comes out.

The home that we purchased was a foreclosure, so the utilities were not on when we went to look at it. A home inspection is going to require electricity and water, so if you're buying a foreclosure, step one in preparing for a home inspection is getting those turned on!

Now, this may not be quite as simple and straight-forward as it sounds. You are going to want to PREPARE for those utilities to come on. Why would you need to do that? You probably don't, and you'll probably look like the overly-cautious buyer but you know what? You might just avoid a minor catastrophe if you go ahead and walk through the house and make sure that switches and faucets are turned off. If you want to play it extra safe, ask your utility company if they can meet you at the home so that someone is there when the water and electricity (and gas if you have it) start flowing. Or, what we did the second time we had to have things turned on (cough..) was ask the company to only remove the locks from the power and water, and switched them on ourselves when we arrived. Our utility companies will not guarantee a time to come out, so this was the easiest option for us. If you do this, make sure you know where the switches/valves are to turn on those utilities at the house.

But going back to the first time we had to turn on the utilities...the thought that anything could go wrong never crossed our minds. We signed paperwork agreeing that we were liable for any damages while utilities were on. What could possibly happen by just turning on utilties? And didn't give it another thought. Here comes the bad part. It turns out that someone (who? why??) had removed the cap to the washer connection and turned the connection to the ON position. The water company arrives, twists the water on and guess what happens next.

Thankfully, our kind service men knocked on the door when the saw the meter start immediately spinning, and when they saw that no one was home (and probably saw the water forcefully pouring onto our floor from the front window) they twisted the water off again for us. Unfortunately, not before about 10-15 GALLONS of water had flooded our kitchen and made its way onto our living room floor and into the hall. No one called us, so we had no idea anything had happened until our trusty realtor Mike Stuteville went over just to check on the house and make sure everything was okay for the home inspection. He found the wet floor. The kitchen was fine but unfortunately, we found the next day that the laminate hardwood had been damaged. We loved those floors!! Below you can see where the floor got wet. If you look closely you can see the path it took into the hallway.

Thankfully, the water dried and it looks much better now but there are places on some of the seams that have dark stains (mold/mildew maybe). I'm going to try to clean it up. Here's to hoping that there will be a "how to get mildew stains out of your laminate floor" tutorial on here soon!

The worst of the damage, that is thankfully hardly visible today!


  1. hahahaha, I'm sorry I laughed at this, but it was funny. Don't you love homeownership? it's awesome and theses kind of stories make it even better. We've owned our home for 8 years and 2 months ago we found out that the entire a/c unit was put in wrong and that it's a "miracle" it hasn't leaked through the ceiling yet. Really? The "inspector" didn't catch that?? sigh. You live and learn!

  2. Wow!! that is crazy! Stuff like that always worries me a little...that I won't know that anything is wrong until it becomes a catastrophe! Lucky that it sounds like you avoided one!