The Home Inspection

This afternoon I had a home inspection done on the house I’m looking to buy and for the most part things checked out fine. There are two areas of concern that I’m consulting with professionals on as they could turn into a can of worms, depending on how bad they really are.

The first thing is that the house has a number of ungrounded 3-prong outlets. Most of the house has 2-prong outlets, but pulling a few outlets showed that there were only two conductors, not three, so instead of just replacing the outlets with new 3-prong ones which would be cheap and quick, it may require rewiring. I’m also going to talk to a second electrician to get another opinion.

Another issue is that there are some HVAC lines that are wrapped with a suspect substance and have some unknown debris on them which may or may not be alive. It doesn’t appear to be mold, but it’s most likely not just dirt. My Realtor is contacting a contractor to see what he thinks about the pipe wrapping and whatever appears to be on the wrapping.

Both issues could potentially be a can of worms, which is not a good thing. Aside from those two problems, the house checked out to be in very good shape with the only other “defect” being that the toilet didn’t appear to be bolted down to the floor properly, which can’t be a big deal because it doesn’t appear to be leaking in any way.

I really like the house, but if the two problems turned up by the home inspection are too expensive to fix, I can’t go forward. We’ll see what the pros say. I’m still hopeful that it won’t be as big of a deal as it might be. I don’t want to spend a ton to fix an issue, but I do want things to be correct, not just rigged up so they’ll technically pass a code inspection.

I’m glad I got the home inspection, because I’d rather know about these two potentially very expensive problems before buying a house than afterward.

One thought on “The Home Inspection

  1. Non grounded outlets are very common in old houses in Bethlehem. I believe the code enforcement inspector will have the homeowner replace the three-hole outlets with two-hole outlets if they are not grounded (assuming he sees them). The non-grounded outlets are grandfathered in on old houses but you can’t pass them off as grounded by slapping a grounded outlet on it and not having a ground wire. Not a huge deal as long as you have some actual grounded outlets available to plug in things that have grounded plugs. If you know what you are doing you can even fix it yourself, if not then an electrician. This is a much smaller problem than finding out the house has only knob & tube or 100amp service or less, both somewhat common in old houses. If you are going to walk away based on some non-grounded outlets I say good luck with the old “fixer-upper” house search.

    Now the wrapping on the pipes could get interesting. Without seeing it, just based on the description, my first guess is asbestos. Also common in old fixer uppers. If that’s what it turns out to be you have 4 options: 1) run 2) leave it in place and don’t disturb it (if it’s in good condition, in an area will people don’t go and there is little risk of it becoming disturbed) 3) encapsulate it (by a professional) 4) have a professional team come in to remove (most expensive, picture guys with space suits, plastic sheeting and hoses everywhere). You definitely need a professional opinion or two or three if it’s asbestos. You can also request that the seller knock a few bucks off the price to cover or partially cover any fixes. But…they don’t have to say yes. In this market they’d be smart to do it, especially if they are in a hurry to buy the house and you were their only offer. Good luck!

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