Ah the American dream. The hope that some saved investment money will yield more for you when your dreams become reality. You’ve spent hours watching the so called “Flip shows” on the DIY network and your burning desire is to be the next great guru of homes. The paint! The pretty fixtures! Everyone else is doing it so it can’t be that hard! When all the dust has settled along comes the Home Inspector ready to essentially score your pet project.
Some of these homes have been done to a quality standard while others only take about 5 minutes to walk around and it is painfully obvious the seller was clueless. The focal points are to make the home look presentable but that only works for perspective buyers who lack the experience or understanding of how a home is put together. Here is a list of so called “areas of concern” that you the buyer should be focused on prior to worrying about appearances.
1. Did the seller get a home inspection?
In most cased they didn’t. If they did then I wouldn’t have spent twice as long writing up all the defects I usually find. Many of these homes are priced low for a reason. That’s simply because they have a ton of issues. Some were never built properly to begin with and others have been added onto over the years. These “additions” were done by unqualified persons or homeowners looking for the cheap build, and now after many years of standing the defects the structural issues are apparent. The structure of the home is the absolute most important factor to consider.
2. You do realize this place has a crawlspace don’t you?
The crawlspace is second behind the physical structure of the home and in almost all cases a part of the structural evaluation. If a crawlspace is not properly addressed or maintained the end results are mold and rotted wood framing. Even if the rest of the home is great, a doomed crawlspace will be the end to a buyer’s interest of your next big flip.
3. Did they have the electrical/plumbing checked?
Of course this would fall back on #1. If the home is 50+ years old and all the systems are aged or original, then the life expectancies are past in some cases and it’s time for an upgrade. Plumbing consistent of galvanized and cast iron is at or near the end. Even if its functioning there are never guarantees it will last. Some lasts 40 and some lasts 70 but eventually it will need to be replaced. Many times there are enough leaks and indications to warrant a further evaluation by a tradesman to determine the cost of replacement. If you don’t, you will end up having annual leaking pipe repairs. The same goes for electrical. Most modern homes cannot function on 100 amp service. Times have changed and so have power requirements. Most of the electrical systems, , I find are out of space so the previous owners just splice and add, instead of upgrade. What is left is a mess and the repair costs are high for bringing it up to speed.
4. More Insulation? Oh, that’s grandfathered in!
The minimum for most attics around here is roughly 10 to 18 inches. You have to remember, some of these homes were built before anyone focused on energy. The last thing on some people’s minds is wondering about insulation. Many of these homes are priced according to comparable for square footage, and no emphasis was on considering the age and lack of modern comforts like insulation.
If you plan on investing in a “flip house” do it right. Hire the appropriate tradesman to evaluate and repair. Its pretty clear when you don’t. Also PLEASE spend the money and get it inspected. I have seen the ones where the people are stuck and out of money. They invested poorly and when the inspection is over they have no money to make real repairs. So now they are upside down.