Stacey: Ever wonder what really goes on during a home inspection? Let's find out on "What Works Now"
Voice Over: AOL and Bank of America Home Loans. Helping you find out what works now.
Narrator: This is Kenny Rhodes, a licensed home inspector. Let's tag along and see what helpful tips he has for homebuyers.
Kenny: Its very important for you to follow me, shadow me, watch everything I'm doing, because your understanding of this home will be so much greater if you have firsthand experience. The more questions you ask, the more comfort you'll have when we're done.
Narrator: There are several main areas in and around the home that the inspector will examine. Among the more important features are the foundation and other supporting structures.
Kenny: So the only thing on the foundation that I see that would give me even a slight sense that something might be up, is this crack. This is called a step crack. You want to monitor this. If it starts showing up even bigger over the next few years, then you're probably going to want to address something in this area.
Stacey: Is this an expensive problem?
Kenny: It could be, but more than likely it's because there was no gutter drainage before. Now I can see an underground pipe that's taking the water away form the building so right now I'm not too worried with this.
Narrator: That takes care of the foundation. Now what about other external features?
Kenny: [Pulls socket out of his utility belt] This is a GFI testing device. A GFI is a device that's built into hairdryers. If you were to drop your hairdryer into the water, it would shut off the power. So all external outlets need to have a GFI device. We're going to test and see if there is one in here. I'm pressing the little button on my tester, nothing's happening. So there are a couple of problems here. The junction box is loose and there's no GFI protection. So an electrician can fix this for maybe $75.
Narrator: Within the home, one of the major areas to focus on is the basement.
Kenny: Here we have all sorts of mechanicals – plumbing, electrical, wiring, boilers, heating, hot water...
Stacey: But what are you looking for when you're looking at these items?
Well there's a lot here, but I'm looking at the main water line coming into the building. This is the plastic pipe that's typical of a well. Then I want to see the age of the pressure tank. This is within a year or two, and they're good for about 15 years. I wanna look at any filtration or conditioning devices here. I wanna make sure that there's salt in the water softener tank. This equipment looks very good and well taken care of.
Stacey: Would you be able to tell if this equipment is going to malfunction?
Kenny: No, I couldn't tell you that, but I can tell by the age of it that typically you're going to get about 10 to 15 years out of it, and this is brand new.
Stacey: [points to boiler equipment] But this does not look new.
Kenny: [chuckles] Surprisingly it looks a little older than it is. It's maybe about 10 years old. This manufacturer has different product lines, and this is the top of the line unit. But a boiler will last 25 to 30 years on average. There's a lot I can look for on the outside such as corrosion of valves.
Stacey: [Points to valves] Is that bad corrosion?
Kenny: That is not bad corrosion; it's pretty typical. That's the copper leaching from the pipe. Probably the most important item is when it was serviced, because an oil fire burner needs to be serviced every year. If you don't do that, it's going to cost you a lot more on your fuel every year. And its been serviced in the last month, so you have almost 12 months before you need your next service.
Narrator: Aside from the utilities, there's plenty to examine in bedrooms and other living areas.
The things I'm looking for in bedrooms and living areas are water stains from a plumbing leak or a roof leak. I'm also looking for big cracks. You'll always find some small cracks, and they don't bother me – but big cracks may tell something.
One of the other major items in a home is the windows. These are the original windows and they're going to be very drafty. So one of the long-term considerations is to replace all your windows, and they're expensive.
Stacey: So how much will this homeowner have to spend to replace all the windows?
Kenny: The average homeowner is going to spend $10,000 to $25,000 in windows on this house.
Stacey: So if I was the buyer, should I be renegotiating the asking price?
Kenny: It's not something I can really advise you on. What you do with this information is really up to you.
Stacey: Hmm, something to think about.
Narrator: Although it's not required, an inspection conducted by a qualified professional is highly recommended. It may take some time, but the information you gain will be invaluable in making an informed decision about your future investment.
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