Find Out What's Weird About the Home You're Buying

by Karina Gafford, MilitaryByOwner staff writer
 
Home inspectors can reveal the weird factors of your home.

A home inspection report I once commissioned on a house that my husband and I had just put in an offer for revealed that the water heater was from 1982. A well-maintained gas heater lasts about 10 years while an electric heater may last an additional five years. Since this was 2011, I knew that the water heater would likely need immediate replacing. I thanked him for the useful information and added an estimated replacement cost of $1,000 into my budget for the new home.


 
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That wasn’t strange information to receive from the inspector. The strange part that the inspector indicated was that the heater had a sticker on it showing that it had been installed in the home in 1982; the home, meanwhile, hadn’t been built until 1989. The inspector noted that it looked as if this was not the first water heater to occupy the space. He guessed that somewhere along the way, the initial water heater had given out, and the homeowner replaced it with an older water heater. Since the home had been a rental at one point, he presumed that the heater was probably from another home the owner owned in the area.
 
Given that the tank was old and corroded, a combination that would likely result in making us sick, the inspector suggested that we request either an allowance for the new water heater as part of the purchase agreement or a new water heater. With nothing to lose (bar maybe the good will of the home seller), we added the request. The seller had a new water heater installed later that week, and we quickly closed the deal on the home.
 
The several hundred dollars spent on a home inspection saved us hundreds more in a new water heater, as well as countless dollars from potential lost earnings from illness as a result of bad water. Who knows when we would have noticed that it was our hot water heater making us sick after we had moved in? After all, the hot water heater was in the crawlspace, so it wasn’t anywhere I’d make a habit of hanging out in on a regular basis.
 
Another weird factor a home inspector noticed on a home inspection several years prior saved us thousands of dollars. He pointed out that the entire HVAC system was missing! Oops! Apparently someone had absconded with the system while the home had sat absent. We should have taken that as a warning sign as to how many other headaches that home would cause us before we eventually sold it.
 
As military families, we don’t generally have several months to leisurely find our new home. Uncle Sam offers 10 days of housing leave. Period. That means we must rush through our short list of homes that we want to tour, which doesn’t leave much time for anything beyond a surface analysis of the condition of each property. Fortunately, we can leave the detailed work to home inspectors, and assuming that you’ve found someone with a lot of experience and a good reputation, they can identify the weird factors in your potential new home to help you know if you’re making the best decision for your family. If the home inspection report reveals too many weird issues that either your family’s sanity or budget would not like to handle, then you can consider the amount you paid for the report as money well spent. Keep the findings in mind as you search for another home for your military family.
 
Our home inspection saved us hundreds in the water heater and thousands on our HVAC system, but these definitely aren’t the weirdest things found by home inspectors. In a recent survey of home inspectors, they reported an array of findings that a casual observer could easily overlook while trying to make a home purchase. As most potential home buyers are more inclined to spend their mental energies wondering whether the home will work for their family’s lifestyle, their holistic overview of the home can easily cause them to miss some of the following details that these home inspectors found.
  • An electric socket in the shower. Who knows when you may need to continue charging your phone to finish your conversation?
  • Indoor electric sockets used outdoors without water covers. They’re cheaper than sockets designed for outdoor use, but there are better ways to save a buck. Always watch out for DIY electrical work!
  • An entire section of the roofing tiles missing. That’s one way to create a skylight!
  • Sewage pipes that simply led to the backyard. Who needs a sprinkler system when you’ve got a constant supply of "reclaimed water?"
The home inspectors reported exposed wiring, rusted gas pipes, mold, and bathroom doors that wouldn’t close. While the latter would require costly foundational repairs, the former few could cost much more in health bills and could even cost your life. In 2011, the National Fire Protection Association reported that electrical issues (not appliances, but directly relating to the electrical systems inherent in the house) caused over 47,700 home fires in the U.S. These fires caused 418 deaths that year as well as 1,570 injuries. In 2012, the World Health Organization reported that over 7 million people died that year from indoor air pollution, which they report includes mold.
 
So, when you’re considering your next home purchase, make sure that you take the time to research the best home inspector that you can find. Tell him that’s it extremely important to you and to your family that he or she identifies any and all weird factors about your potential new home.
 
You can learn more about what other weird things to watch out for in your next home inspection report in our eBook, FSBO: Is It for You? Our easy-to-skim infographics will teach you what to watch out for, including pests, radon, lead, and more.  Click below to download a quick list of important inspections!