Buying First Home - Inspection Follow Up Advice

JeremyDLJuly 19, 2014

My wife and I are under contract to purchase our first home. We had our inspection today and I am looking for some advice from those of you who are more experienced and wiser in this arena than I am.

Here is some background info:
Owner purchased home in 2009 for $115,000
Owner put on a $8,000 roof in 2012
Home is in Rural Western, NY, village with fairly stable real estate values but some rise has occurred in last few years
Owner listed for $125,000, we offered $112,500, she countered at $117,500, we have purchase agreement at $115,000

We like the home. Perfect street, great bones, near family...

The inspection noted the following items that I will either be asking the owner to fix or fixing myself in the first year or two of ownership:
Two Crawlspaces over dirt are not insulated properly and old batts have fallen out of floor joists
Fireplace needs to be repointed
Chimney needs to be repointed (not all of it, just a portion above the roof line)
All facia boards and soffit boards (not a ventid soffit) need to be scraped, primed and painted (they're peeling/flaking badly) - Some need to be nailed or replaced as well
About 100 sq. ft. of cedar shakes on garage need to be replaced
Attic Insulation is installed improperly and needs to be removed/replaced
***There were a number of other items that I have no issue with any plan to take care of myself***ie: pocket door off track, some outlets were converted to three prong when they need to be two prong or gfi because they aren't grounded, some downspout placement issues, sticking doors...

So, given these details, I am curious what of these items (1) the lender might require to be fixed (assume USDA/FHA Mortgage), (2) you would require the owner to fix in order to the deal to go through and (3) which you would say "I am buying a 95 Year Old House at a good price and need to fix myself"

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

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Usually, it is water intrusion issues and safety issues. But I would recommend asking your lender before giving the seller the repair request.
Sounds like you are a reasonable buyer, especially for a first time home buyer.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:08PM
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None of these are health or safety issues. Pretty much the only one I would ask for is the electrical outlets - since it's a code issue/potential fire hazard.

What the owner paid for the house and the price of the roof has absolutely no relevance to what the house is worth today.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:35PM
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Sophie Wheeler

The insulation issue can also be a health and safety issue if the vapor barrier was done incorrectly. It's a essy dirty job and I'd want that done before I took possession. I'd want to check for any mold or mildew caused by the improper installation.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:39PM
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When the inspection says the crawlspaces are not insulated properly, do they mean that the crawlspaces have vapor barriers that were not put in correctly (which, as hollysprings notes, may have caused other issues), or that they simply aren't insulated at all? The latter is super common in old houses (our 100-year-old crawlspace over dirt has no insulation or barriers, for instance, although our climate is not as cold as yours so we've had no real motivation to do it).

These all sound like pretty typical old house issues to me, though. (Our house probably had 2/3 of them when we moved in!) The chimney/fireplace repointing is just something that has to be done every so often; ditto with replacing shakes, etc. Sometimes inspections will also call things that were okay when they were done but no longer accepted (e.g., our attic had loose insulation over knob-and-tube wiring, which is a big no-no today, but was permitted when it was installed by our local electric company as part of a weatherproofing program for seniors many years ago).

Assuming your lender doesn't require any of this to close, I'd probably just ask for a price reduction/credit to address these--most of them aren't expensive and many can be DIYed if you feel like it. Then you can decide how/if you want to address them yourself. None of these would be dealbreakers for me, though, as an owner of a similarly old house. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:44AM
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Artemis78 - This is primarily an old home issue. I should clarify.

When I say crawlspaces, it is really over two additions where footers were poured and block was laid and the floor was left as dirt. Access is through a hold the size of four cinder blocks at the top of a six foot wall so it will be a pain to get in and out (I'm already having nightmares about potential critters).

The insulation was put up (batts between joists) without any chicken wire or strapping and some has fallen out. This isn't surprising given that there is no vapor barrier and no support.

My game plan would be to:
1) 20mil Vapor Barrier laid up to six inches up wall. Sealed with acoustical sealant and firing strips attached with tapcons.

2) Acoustical sealant over seams and tape over the top of seams.

3) Stake down the vapor barrier and do the same with sealing the stake holes.

4) Foam boards and great stuff in the rim joists.

5) Eventually, given the cost, glue foam insulation up to the block walls as well from the top of the firring strips up to the rims. This might be down the road a bit given that foal faced insulation boards aren't cheap. I don't think I can do unfaced given there will be no fire blockage.

In the meantime, should I put insulation between the joists and chicken wire? If so, should I take this out once I've put on the foam boards?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:06AM
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The peeling paint could be an issue, lead based paint on properties built before 1978, I believe. Esp if it's an FHA loan

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:13PM
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The only issue here that will affect the mortgage is the peeling paint. FHA mortgages will not allow peeling paint. I have had buyers scrape and paint to get their mortgage thru and I have had sellers do it. Some sellers feel they shouldn't have to make repairs because of the type of mortgage the buyers are getting.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:20PM
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The only issue here that will affect the mortgage is the peeling paint. FHA mortgages will not allow peeling paint. I have had buyers scrape and paint to get their mortgage thru and I have had sellers do it. Some sellers feel they shouldn't have to make repairs because of the type of mortgage the buyers are getting.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:21PM
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Oh, yes. The peeling paint. With 2.5 weeks until closing, we were told by the VA appraiser that our buyers used, we had to restain our deck and scrape and paint and old shed in the back yard. I was miffed because we don't have time to do this and we were only supposed to pay $300 towards it. There didn't seem to be much time to get bids, negotiate, etc. It was a huge job. The thing that irritates me though is that our deck in only about 7 years old and it was stain, not paint. The shed is a joke because it's practically falling down.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:59PM
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The crawl space sounds like a great place to grow some mold. If there has been no vapor barrier there, I would insist that one be installed before purchase, and that a good mold test be conducted as well. You could easily spend many thousands later remediating mold issues; old floors, especially, might need to be removed and replaced. Also, did the inspector do a test for lead paint on the house? Sealing, removing this paint would be another quite onerous job.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:12PM
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If you are getting FHA financing they FHA will tell you what needs to be repaired or replaced based on the appraisal report. FHA homes are held to a much higher standard for mortgage lending than others.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:36PM
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Simple. Get estimates to have all the repairs done, and tell the broker you want that amount taken off the price.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 2:57PM
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