Inspector Gadget

House inspections – aren’t they just a barrel of monkeys. Now, being that Jay and I have been through this whole inspection rigamaroll 3 times now, you’d think we’d be seasoned experts and know all the ins and outs of what’s coming to us. You’d be wrong though 😀 One thing I think we both realized during this round of house hunting, was that southern houses are a bit different. Not a ton, but enough for us to throw out a few of the things we thought we had down pact.

The wrinkles this time around – oh …. where do I start.

How about with the basement (aka the bane of my existence). So, before we even put in an offer on the house, the hubster noticed something awry down in the pit of the house. Jay and I have a pretty good system down where I inspect the house for things like layout, neighborhood and general loveliness potential and he scopes it out for all things structural. Thus – he is usually the bearer of bad news 😀

Basement Settling

Do y’all see that? That’s a big old crack. With a serious wall lean. So as I’m all perky and excited and thinking THIS IS IT, I go down to check on the husband, only to find him scratching his head and telling me he’s got some bad news. Oye. Luckily, we knew the problem was fixable, but we also knew it wasn’t going to come cheap. I must have batted my eyelashes enough though, since we landed up putting in an offer on the place anyway. 😀

Believe you me, it wasn’t without doing a fair amount of homework (including getting some preliminary quotes) before we even put in an offer, since we wanted the price to reflect the work that would need to be done to get this house to a place where it would be structurally sound. (Always good…)

Cost to Repoint Fireplace

It’s kind of hard to see in the picture above, but the next issue we ran into with this house was the fireplace. See the bricks up on the top row there – well they are loose as a goose and ready to fall off with the next wind storm and bonk you square on the head. Essentially, the furnace was venting off to one side of the fireplace, which over time caused that particular side to degrade and wear down so the grout is gonzo.

Inspecting Fireplace

Another fun surprise was that the fireplace does not have any type of cap on it right now, so it’s just free flowing air from the sky above us, down into our cozy little living room. Great for Santa, not great for my utility bills. All things considered, the quote we got to repoint the fireplace (grout and fix the top), add a flue and add a cap on top, came in at just under $2,200. I can tell you right now, there are many other things I’d rather spend $2k on. Can I get an amen?

Moving on to other repairs I’d prefer not to spend my moo-la on, let’s talk about windows, shall we? Given that the house has been settling slowly over time (it was built in 1939) and the fact that things were made more severe by the leaning basement wall happenings, the windows in the house – well, they pretty much don’t open. Not a single one. Ok, like one. One opens.

Windows that Stick

In all seriousness, although this is definitely another expense we’ll have to incur down the line, it wasn’t a deal breaker for us. More than anything, I think we figure that we can do this gradually, as our budget allows. Plus, just think how nice brand spanking new windows will feel after having these relics for a bit! 😀

And the windows are definitely not the only thing that sticks. Anywhere that tape went up during the inspection, indicated a door that either wouldn’t open, or stuck enough to warrant a flag. You’ll notice a lot of blue tape in these photos 😉 At least renoing a kitchen falls into the fun category for me … so there’s that.

Cabinets that Stick

When we we’re going through and doing the routine inspection check points, we also noticed that the water pressure got really low when you ran more than one fixture at a time. Like flushing a toilet meant that your shower went from full blast to a wee little trickle. Although I could chalk this one up to old house charm, I really don’t want it to feel like we’re camping when I go to suds up at night.

Another culprit of the water issues could be found in our basement. See the areas of the pipe that are white and green? The copper in those spots is actually starting to thin out, which causes other plumbing issues to boot.

Pin Holes in Copper Pipes

It’s not a huge deal (per the inspector…) but it’s definitely something that we’ll want to fix down the line.

Another down the line change, is our furnace. It’s currently oil burning and OLD, which means it will be getting the heave ho eventually as well. A downside to having the oil furnace is that our water heater is electric as a result (no gas line), which is a much more expensive way to heat up the water. Essentially, what all this equates to is that we will have to install a gas line to run up to the house. The good news – the city does that for FREE!! The bad – we’ve gotta pay for the line once it enter the house – so there’s that 😀

Inspecting HVAC System

Just check out this relic! Old school, man.

Old Oil Burning Furnace

Lucky for us, the outside had much more manageable fixes. The inspector flagged things like this ivy, which he thought was too close to the house and could cause problems down the line by growing up the side and under the vinyl itself. We just need to keep an eye on it. Total cost = Free. 😀

Ivy Growing Next to House

Small things like this bump in our back deck was noted as well. Apparently it’s a trip hazard. Don’t tell Jay, but I want to rip the whole thing out anyway. I’ve got grand plans for a deck like this with an outdoor eating area like this. Swoon.

Bump on Deck

The front stoop also had a few cracks in it, that may or may not have led to some discoloring in the wood below the basement steps (water). We’ll have to keep a close eye on that situation as well, since we obviously don’t want any water damage! Whatever the fix lands up being, I really hope we can keep the front porch as is, since I really like it.

Cracked Front Porch

There was one money saving component on the house that’s definitely the hubby’s favorite feature. See that contraption on the ceiling? It’s a house fan that essentially sucks all the cold evening air in and puts all the hot stuffy air out. Pretty sweet for the southern summers headed our way soon!

House Attic Fan

For all the things that we’ll “need” to fix, we’re looking at right around $10k. Luckily not all of it needs to be done immediately but still – that’s not the best case scenario for buying a house. The good news, is that some of these issues kept other potential buyers away, so our willingness to deal with them allowed us to purchase in a neighborhood we would not have been able to afford otherwise.

As we tackle each issue, I’ll definitely be providing a holistic cost breakdown of how much each project sets us back. For my sanity, hopefully it’s on the low end!

4 thoughts on “Inspector Gadget

  1. I feel your pain! Nothing too bad though…and luckily most things can be fixed along the way. We are definitely in that boat. Also, we need to talk about the deck you pinned…I need it. Like seriously, it’s gorgeous!

  2. Your house is so beautiful – but please, PLEASE DON’T REPLACE your windows! As the owner of an older home in a historic neighborhood, you are a steward of this treasure – original windows are critical – and your windows look to be in fabulous shape. Replacement windows are far inferior and have such a short lifespan – because the materials are total crap. The windows that came with your home were built to last – they just need some TLC – stuck windows is absolutely no big deal. Check with your neighbors who have undertaken rehabs – there’s a company in Greensboro called Double-Hung, but they are very popular and as such on the more expensive side. I know there are a number of folks around Durham who could recondition your windows – but your husband could absolutely do it himself and save you loads of money – it really isn’t that hard.

    Google historic windows versus replacement – you’ll find lots of info out there – like this:

    http://www.oldhouseguy.com/old-wood-windows/

    Good luck!

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