Purchasing an older home in the Kalamazoo Michigan area?
OLDER SW MICHIGAN HOMES:
SW Michigan, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek are full of great older homes. Homes full of charm and character. Homes that were built before WW2 or the Great Depression. Sometimes homes that were built at or before our great nation was celebrating its first centennial. What a great market if you like something outside the box at an affordable price.
HOWEVER, and this is a big however, you must be aware of what you are buying. Today building science is becoming a real and paid attention to thing. Builders are paying attention to home tightness, insulation, wraps, windows, seals, and more. HVAC systems have become more efficient and less costly to use and maintain. Electrical systems have become safer and more reliable. Plumbing systems have become more exotic with copper and cast iron taking a back seat to PEX and PVC.
THE WAY IT WAS
Older homes have none or just a few of modern homes advantages. . These homes have been built by craftsmen and women that didn’t have the ability to look into the future of building and were built as they knew how at the time. R value and safety were an afterthought. A dated home can have hidden termite damage or occasional foundation leaks. Internally corroding pipes or painted over lead paint can’t be seen but can be present. Asbestos infused building products such as insulation or texturing can be installed. Recalled systems due to high failure rates and products with high failure rates not recalled but known to be dangerous have been found in many dated homes.
What to consider
Am I saying purchasing an older home should not be considered? No. I’m saying an older home is a one off, unique opportunity to own a piece of history. But that opportunity comes with risk. As a home inspector I am tasked, among other things, with inspecting to the homes build date and safety. If I see a screw-in fuse panel or ungrounded electrical system or galvanized plumbing pipes I will mention this in the report, but they are not, on their own, defects. But they can be unsafe.
Old homes present challenges to a home inspector because we want our client to be safe, And we understand the very nature of the older homes at times makes it unsafe by today’s standards. Buy the home, don’t buy the home. We don’t care. But a home inspector will hope the client is not so in love with the home that warnings and cautions are ignored.
A good home inspector wants the client informed. We would love to be able to tear into a home where we feel its needed to show proof of our hypothesis. We want to open walls and get to concealed areas both in the home and underground but its just not possible and not in the scope of work. The client and inspector do not own the home, so it cannot be damaged.
Read your inspection report
A comment I occasionally use in my inspection reports is. “Everything has a life expectancy, the (fill in the blank here) has exceeded its life expectancy, recommend replacing. ” That means this device or systems is old and even though it is functioning now does not means it will continue to or that it is will remain safe.
What is your best approach? Hire a NACHI Certified Master Inspector, Hire an inspector not based on his fee but based on his experience and knowledge. Hire an inspector with a proven track record. Hire an inspector that is not afraid to talk to you or answer your questions. Dont be afraid to interview your inspector. And lastly, when he or she write a report, READ IT.
Need a home inspection in the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek area? Call me or visit my website. www.homespecmi.com
Todd Miller, CMI