If you have recently gone under contract to buy a home, you may be planning for your physical inspection. A lot of information will be thrown at you in a very short period of time, and a large amount of it is confusing. Hopefully, this will simplify your process. Part I of this article covered roofs, foundation, plumbing and electrical systems. Here, we will cover windows, landscaping, and termites.
Your inspector may recommend new windows. If you are happy with your old windows, they function well, and the casings are in good shape, that is great. But installing new windows is a great way to make your home more energy efficient. New windows are not inexpensive, though. Your window installer may need to repair the window casing (see the termite section, below). If you would like to maintain a vintage look, know that custom windows are really expensive. Also, you will likely have to paint inside or outside once installed. There is one more issue with windows – if the exterior is not sealed properly, they can leak during rains. This is more common than you think, even with condominiums. However, new windows can save you energy dollars and really freshen the look of your home.
Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may have visions of all new landscape including hardscape (created mounds, decorative or retaining walls, etc.). Nothing makes a house look more like eye-candy than refreshed landscape. Or, you may want a simple grassy yard, which might require sprinklers. Be warned – all of this is can be really pricey. Hopefully, you and your gang will want to plant, weed and replant yourselves, which is very time-consuming but can be a lot of fun. And once it stops being fun, you can always hire a gardener.
The other landscape item that your inspector may point out are your home’s trees and their roots. You will need to trim branches regularly to keep them off your roof. The big thing, however, are tree roots as they can lift or crack a foundation and invade sewer lines. If this occurs with a big tree that you wish to keep, you may want to hire a tree surgeon to cut the right roots and leave the other roots alone.
Finally, your inspector will check your outside drains and sump pumps, if you have them. These need to function perfectly so you do not have standing water close to (or in!) your house after heavy rains.
Depending on where you live, you may have a separate termite and wood-destroying organism inspection. Just about every house has termites. Termites are often even present in brand new lumber for brand new houses! In addition to eradicating the little pests, you may need some wood replaced. This is common with window sills and casings, wood overhangs and wood posts. The termites will come back, as well. It is a good idea to have your home inspected every two years or so, top to bottom, and eradication done then.
Hopefully, this has taken some of the mystery out of your inspection. Remember that everything can be repaired or replaced – at a price, of course.