It seems like it was just yesterday. The phone rang and our realtor gleefully said,”You’ve got the house, they took your offer.” As I sit here and think about it I can only think of a couple events that pumped my body full of so much joy; saying “I do” to my beautiful bride and the births of my nieces and nephews to name a few (No kids of my own yet, I know I’m getting old). The pride and joy of becoming a homeowner wasn’t short lived but the lessons learned from purchasing and living in my first home will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. I hope the following lessons I’ve learned help keep you from falling into the same predicaments that I faced.
1.) Mortgage Brokers, Lenders, Loan Officers, etc…
This is going to piss some people off but it has to be said, they cannot be trusted. I don’t care if it’s a second cousin who’s getting you the loan, do not trust them. Treat them like you would a stranger in your home. At this point with a home purchase, a refinance, and a second mortgage I have adequate experience to tell you to be very wary of anything they tell you. Always read the fine print. I’ve only had one pleasant experience with a lender and he was in fact a friend of the family but don’t think for one second that I let my guard down.
2.) Home Inspection – It’s not a good idea, it’s a GREAT idea! Don’t skimp out on this.
When we purchased our home we opted to save the money and my dad and I did the inspection. No offense but dad, YOU’RE FIRED. (As am I) Everything looked great but boy were we wrong.
Duct Work for the HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning): If we had paid a home inspector we would have likely saved $1,400.00 in HVAC work. After having our heat pump serviced three times within the first 18 months we started wondering why? The answer was simple, the individual who installed the unit was a pathetic, unintelligent, low-ball, piece of garbage. Okay that may be a bit harsh but this SOB cost me $1,400.00 and counting.
What did he do wrong? Our two ton heat pump required 16” flex duct work from the intake/filter in the house all the way to the outside unit. (50ft away) This genius installed 14” flex duct the entire way which choked my system and forced it to work harder than it needed to. (Causing the repeated service calls for replacing capacitors). His ingenuity didn’t stop there, he also screwed up on the exhaust side (The duct work that sends air into the house) of the system. The exhaust line was supposed to be truncated from 16” to 14” to 12” to insure proper air distribution and pressure. This guy installed 14” duct work.
I wish that’s all he did wrong but it’s not. He also made some horrible transition pieces that connected the duct work directly to the outside unit without any kind of metal extension. I know that sounds confusing but it’s a major fire hazard and someone’s house in our sub-division had caught on fire for this very reason a few months prior.
Moral of the story: Pay for an inspection! Builders tend to use the cheapest installers they can find. (I know there are some good builders out there)
3.) Wiring – Electrical
Depending on where you live you may or may not have building codes that require electrical wiring to be routed and installed in a particular manor. One thing we overlooked was the mess of wiring in our attic. The professional and safe way to run wiring is to secure each romex cable every 12 to 36 inches with a staple or other approved method. As you can see our wiring is a webbed mess of wire with none of them securely fastened to the houses structure (Except for the additions I’ve made).
4.) Drainage – Water Concerns
Again this is dependent on where you live and what kind of home you have but you should always be aware of the effect water can have on your home. We purchased our home with no form of drainage other than the water shoots that come off of our main gutters. In addition to the that we also have a sloping lot that I have had to slightly re-work several times to keep the water from entering our foundation.
We had an event that had me stressing out more than my dad after working a fifteen hour day only to come home to babysit all of the grand kids. We started seeing cracks in our homes foundation! I’m not talking small surface cracks I’m talking major cracks, some of which went through both sides of the bricks. After getting two different estimates/opinions my mind was put at ease thanks to the credible, professional, and courteous information I received from Olshans Foundation Repair. I can’t say the same for B-Dry who attempted to extort me for nearly 20k for a problem that didn’t exist. I understand times were getting rough at the time of his estimate but to claim I needed upwards of 16 piers drilled down and installed to keep my homes foundation from falling apart was absurd. It’s now been nearly two years and I our foundation is perfectly fine. Of course along with the help of my neighbor we sealed and repaired all of the cracks.
It turns out that out foundation was just reacting to the initial settling that many homes go through in the first couple of years after being built. This doesn’t mean that the moisture detected under our house wasn’t a concern but it did mean that I could start breathing again and my heart rate could drop a bit.
Moral of this story: Be alert to any possible drainage problems and keep an eye on your foundation. Also, Call Olshans if you ever have any doubt.
5.) Roofing and the Universal Excuse
This was one of the more upsetting problems we discovered with our home; tar paper. I didn’t even think to look because it’s presumed that anyone who has any common sense lays tar paper down as a moisture barrier/membrane before installing the roofing shingles. However, as houses started going up all around us I started noticing a trend, I didn’t see any of these roofers installing tar paper. In every instance they were nailing the roofing shingles down straight on the plywood. After prying up one of my shingles I made the discovery; there wasn’t any tar paper on our roof. Even if you catch something like this before you sign the papers it’s more than likely a deal breaker. I don’t know a single builder who would pull the roof shingles off and start over from square one. What are we really talking about here? No more than a couple hundred dollars of material (tar paper) and they are willing to compromise the life span and integrity of the roof to save a handful of change.
The universal excuse I heard in reply to my questioning the lack of tar paper was,”We don’t need tar paper in this climate.” Really? You don’t need a moisture barrier in an area where there is plenty of moisture and humidity?
It obviously wasn’t cost effective for us to replace the entire roof so I did the next best thing and installed an attic ventilator. The ventilator is a powerful fan that activates once a preset temperature or humidity point is reached in an effort to dispose of heat and damaging humidity/moisture.
To be continued!