Category: Home Inspection

negotiations_after_home_inspection

Negotiations after Inspection?

This is a common question we’re asked when we find defects at houses that we inspect, and the answer is always no.

While we may come up with a big list of required repairs for a seller during a home inspections are entirely unregulated in New Jersey. No licensing, no regulation, nothing.

Issues that come up during a home inspection may be negotiable, but there are no rules about repairs that sellers need to complete as a result of a home inspection.

When we find defects during a home inspection, there are four options for the buyer: renegotiate the price for the house, cancel the purchase, have the seller perform repairs, or do nothing.  Today we are going to give your our opinion on these different options.

Lower the price of the house. With this option, the buyer can hire their own contractors to do the work, and they can oversee the whole project after they own the house. This is a common approach, but it’s not always a practical approach because it doesn’t leave the new home buyers with any cash to pay for repairs.

Cancel the purchase. This happens when the buyer decides there are too many problems with the house or when buyers and sellers can’t come to an agreement.

Ask the sellers to make repairs. We are not a big fan of this option. If a seller has performed work at their home and it was done wrong, why would they get it right the second time? When a buyer asks a seller to repair things, they are basically making the seller the general contractor for their new home. The seller has no motivation to do high-quality work, and from our experience the work will often be performed incorrectly, or the work will be sub-par and the materials will be the cheapest possible. Often both.

It’s a very frustrating situation for buyers when we go out to verify repairs the day before closing and none of the repairs are right. What happens now? If the seller is going to be responsible for repairs, language should be included in the purchase agreement that requires licensed contractors to do the work, permits pulled and inspected by the authority having jurisdiction, and proof of both given to the buyer well in advance of the closing date. Just about anything related to plumbing, electrical, or HVAC requires a permit, and most work performed by carpenters also requires a permit.  This should be done for projects of any size; if a project is too small to require a permit, why bother asking the seller to do it at all?

Do nothing. This is often the best option for buyers. When buying a used home, buyers shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect; it never is. Walls get damaged, showers leak, appliances age. This doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t address defects after they’ve bought the house, but it’s unrealistic to expect sellers of used houses to fix every little defect. Asking sellers to address a long list of minor repairs will make the seller feel defensive about their home and make the buyers look petty. This typically comes from a misunderstanding of what a home inspection is for; home inspections are supposed to help the buyer make an informed decision about their potential purchase, not give the seller a long list of petty repairs.

As you can see there are many options for negotiations after the inspection. We hope you chose the best one for your family, and are able to enjoy your new home.

Egress Window Sizing?

One of the most common questions we get from clients, specifically clients with small children about egress windows – more precisely,

“Is there anything wrong with my window size?”

If you live in an older home, there’s a good chance that none of your windows meet today’s egress requirements.

Try this simple quiz below – which of these windows do you think meet today’s egress requirements?

A. Double hung window in New JerseyDouble hung window in New Jersey

B. Basement window in New Jersey

Basement window in New Jersey

C. Awning window in New Jersey

Awning window in New Jersey

D. Roof window in New Jersey

Roof window in New Jersey

E. Casement window in New Jersey

To properly answer this question, you need more information that just a photo.

You would also need to know:

  • how tall and wide the window opening is?
  • how high the window is off the floor?
  • and how close the window is to the exterior grade?

For proper egress, windows must open at least 24″ high, 20″ wide, and have a net openable area of 5.7 square feet.

That’s a large and wide open window!

This means that if a window only meets the minimum height and width requirements, the net openable area will only be 3.33 square feet (24×20 =  480.  480 / 144 = 3.33).

If a window opens 24″ high, it would need to be 34.2″ wide to meet the minimum opening requirement.

Besides the opening requirement, the window also needs to be within 44″ of the finished floor.  Below is an excellent diagram that illustrates two different windows that both meet the minimum requirements.

egress_window_sizing_nj

So what about the quiz?  The only window that met egress requirements was the last one, E.   ‘A‘ had a net openable area less that 5.7 sf.   ‘B‘ was too high above the floor, had less than 5.7 sf of net openable area, and was less than 24″ high.  ‘C‘ was less than 5.7 sf.  ‘D‘ was slightly more than 44″ above the floor.

Why do some people label only a basement room with a tiny window a ‘non-conforming’ bedroom, while often none of the windows in the home meet egress?

It’s because they don’t know better.  Just for the record, there are several more requirements for a window to meet egress, and there are several ways for smaller windows to be ‘conforming’..  Also, today’s building code no longer uses the term ‘egress window’ – they’re more broadly categorized as  mergency Escape and Rescue Openings.  Have a specific window related question, just shoot us a quick message. We would be happy to help.

Thank you to our home inspection clients in North Caldwell, NJ

Home-inspection-North-Caldwell-NJ

 

Thank you to our clients for entrusting us to inspect their
new home in North Caldwell, NJ

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Thank you to our home inspection clients in Butler, NJ

Townhouse-home-inspection-Butler-NJ

 

Thank you to our clients for entrusting us to inspect their Butler, NJ
townhouse!

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Thank you to our home inspection clients in Carlstadt, NJ

 

Carlstadt-nj-multifamily-home-inspection

Thank you to our clients for entrusting us to inspect their Carlstadt, NJ
two family home!

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Thank you to our clients in Wyckoff, NJ

 

Wyckoff-NJ-Home-Inspection

Thank you to our clients for entrusting us to inspect their Wyckoff, NJ
home!

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Thank you to our clients in West Orange, NJ

 

West Orange NJ - Condo Inspection

Thank you to our clients for entrusting us to inspect their West Orange, NJ
condo!

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Home Inspections and Divorce

When divorce proceedings begin, one of the items on a seemingly endless to-do list is to determine how jointly-owned property will be divided. The largest single thing on that list is usually the home.

A divorce is never a pleasant experience. Egos and personalities all get bruised, assaulted, and every imaginable button gets pushed. What once was a safe place – one’s, can become a battlefield. What is needed is a third party assessment of the condition of the home so that all parties can make informed decisions as to the best way to move forward to a settlement.

Most people are familiar with home inspections as part of a real estate transaction. But people who have lived in their home for years could be unaware that there may be conditions in the home which need to be addressed. For example, if the roof is near the end of its life and will need replacing within a few years, this could substantially affect the financial settlement.

Why get a home inspection? While an appraisal will give you the dollar value of your home as it is today, a home inspector will provide a list of emerging costs, deferred maintenance that both has and will impact the value of the home, and provide what is essentially a guide that will serve as the basis for all future care and maintenance of the home.

A Home Inspector is Impartial

A home inspector has no interest in the house, or either party. Even if they are paid by one party or the other, they are there to provide information about the house, and its condition, so that informed decisions can be made. Facts don’t lie; a leak is a leak. A 20 year old furnace is a 20 year old furnace. Outlets that are wired wrong are a hazard, and missing insulation in the attic will cost the occupant money. A pre-divorce Home Inspection can find and identify the issues in a non-biased, educational manner.

Someday never comes

All of the temporary projects and repairs that were going to be properly fixed “someday” now need to be identified and addressed. Almost every house has things that were fixed, repaired, or just patched up so that the occupants could get on with their lives. Some of these issues are just cosmetic, other things are deferred maintenance, and others can be major safety hazards. Then there are the maintenance chores that one or the other in the household has previously dealt with; having a comprehensive list of items and procedures that need to be serviced and followed can help the remaining party be more prepared to keep the house in good shape.

Things like HVAC maintenance, shutoff valves, sump pumps, and the like are all addressed during the home inspection, and the inspection report becomes a valuable reference manual for keeping the home in good condition.

Witness for the House

Our job as home inspectors is to report on the condition of the house, its maintenance and repair needs, and nothing else. We don’t take sides; we’re not there to judge. We want to make this aspect of the divorce process less stressful for everyone.

We’re happy to answer your questions before, during, and after the inspection.

Arch Inspections has been serving Bergen, MorrisPassaic, Sussex and Union Counties in New Jersey since 2014.  Arch Inspections has earned a consistent “5 star” rating from Google users.

Thank you to our clients in Cedar Grove, NJ

 

Cedar Grove NJ - Townhouse Inspection

Thank you to our clients for entrusting us to inspect their Cedar Grove, NJ
townhome!

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Open the attic access panel?

One of the biggest sources of contention that we regularly deal with during inspections of newer houses is whether or not a sealed attic access panel should be ‘broken’ to access the attic; more specifically, whether or not should be allowed to break the seal.  If you’re not sure what we are talking about, here’s a photo of an attic access panel. To understand this issue, you need to understand why this panel is here and why it has been sealed.

Attic Access Panel

First, the access panel is here because it is required by the New Jersey International Residential Building Code.  The panel is here for me (or anyone else) to use to get into the attic to inspect it, or to do work.  That’s it, plain and simple.  The New Jersey International Residential Building Code, says

“…an attic access opening shall be provided to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet and have a vertical height of 30 inches or greater.”

This covers just about every attic space.  

If it’s required, why is the panel sealed?  In a new home, the panel only gets incidentally ‘sealed’.  The panel does not get attached to anything; it just gets set down on the opening. When the ceiling finish is applied, which is often spray texture, the seam between the panel and the rest of the ceiling gets covered over.  This is what people are referring to when they say the access has been ‘sealed.’  There is very rarely any caulking or adhesive keeping this panel in place.

The biggest sources of contention come from parties attending the inspection that are under the impression that attic spaces in new homes don’t need to be inspected.  Well, by that logic, new homes wouldn’t need to be inspected at all.  A large portion of the problems I find in new construction homes occur in the attic.

Don’t listen to anyone that tells you new attics don’t need to be inspected, or that attic access panels shouldn’t be opened.  They’re not looking out for your best interest, or they’ve been misinformed.

The bottom line is that attic access panels are there for the attic to be accessed, and this is something that should be done at every home inspection.  If there is any concern over air leaking into the attic, this can be addressed with about ten cents worth of caulk.