It never ceases to amaze me that what I see at and during a home inspection is so far removed from what a prospective home buyer sees.
Case in point - an inspection that I conducted two days ago in the town of Ipswich, left me wondering if public schools should start teaching a course of study called "common sense!"
This is in reference to the following obvious and blatant visible defects and deficiencies that I found during the course of my inspection of this partially renovated 1918 single family property. And I do mean - partially renovated!
Let's Start With The Exterior.
To say that the wood clapboard siding and wood trim were in a poor state would be an understatement. It looked like the poorly applied new coat of paint was barely able to keeping the siding and trim from falling off of the building.
There were a myriad of puttied over and painted over rot in both the siding and trim. In some areas all you had to do was to lightly press a finger against a blemished area and an indentation would quickly form.
The roof covering was in no better condition. Besides showing all the tell-tale signs of age related damage from exposure to the elements, there was clear visible evidence of roof undulations. These roof bows and humps resembled the
arthritic condition of a ninety year old mans hand. I estimated the roof had to be at least 30 plus years old - way beyond its life expectancy and ready for replacement at least 10 years earlier.
The coup de grace was the chimney.
To say that this old and original brick chimney had seen better days would be an insult to the original mason who had built it more than 100 years ago. The chimney condition could be characterized in the words of a cool hipster saying, "Man, it's gonzo"!
The chimney crown, the top of the chimney, was no longer majestic but rather more like a crest fallen knave. No longer able to prevent water from entering the chimney, but rather facilitating water entry into the chimney system. The mortar that binds the brick joints together was more like the loose sand found on a beach rather than its original cohesive condition. Years of neglect and lack of maintenance has led to the ultimate insult. Which in my professional opinion was that the chimney would have to be torn down and rebuilt.
In addition to these 3 major issues there were countless other shortcomings and imperfections, too many to go into, but I hope you get my point on what i observed during my initial exterior inspection. And that is that this building was, for all intensive purposes - (and for lack of a kinder word) a dump, in need of major and substantial repair/replacement cost expenditures!
Now here's the truly funny, or should I say sad part of all of this. Since I had arrive much earlier than the clients when they did arrive, as is my usual procedure, I asked them if they had any questions or concerns with the exterior of the building. Both buyers, husband and wife, nodded in the negative. They said that they had no questions or concerns with the exterior of this building.
My Question To You My Reader Is - How Could That Be?
In my opinion the answer lies in the fact that many people when buying their dream house narrowly focus in on the positives rather than on the negatives.
They fix their attention on the newly renovated kitchen with all the bells and whistle appliances. They concentrate their observations to the newly renovated bathrooms and take special note of the lovely tile work. In general, they look at the house through rose colored lenses subconsciously blurring out the negatives that should take precedence over the positives.
In this respect it is the home inspectors fiduciary responsibility to bring these inattentive neophytes down to earth - albeit gently. in this instance, I proverbially took my clients by hand and reviewed all that I had discovered during my exterior inspection. By the end of our walk-around, both of them were traumatized by the extent of the exterior faults and failures that I pointed out to them, and the possible financial hit to their bank account.
A further inspection of the basement and the attic provided additional cumulative evidence which totally convinced them that their dream house in reality could just be a bad dream.
What's The Purpose Of This Exercise?
The purpose of this brief excursion into an actual home inspection experience is to educate the reader as to how easy it is to get blind sided and off the track when it comes to buying your imagined dream house.
What I desire home buyers to do is not to be parochial and narrow minded in their visual assessment of a prospective home purchase. Don't just go "ga-ga" over something that catches your eye and makes you want to have this house, no matter what the cost or consequences.
I want you to take off the blinders and use common sense and your innate judgement to look at a property with discretion. If something looks bad - more than likely it is bad. Stick with your gut reaction. Nine out of ten times it's right. And don't fall into the fatal error of riveting your attention to one outstanding feature without factoring in all of the properties features - the good and the not so good!
And above all - hire a licensed, trained home inspector with years of experience and a ton of knowledge about houses and their various systems to professionally inspect your prospective home purchase and to give you a no-nonsense inspection report about the true condition of the property.