5 Home Inspection Tips: get your mind in the gutter

Before we became homeowners, I used to think of gutters as the things that ruined my bowling game and where my mind sometimes goes. Now I'm acutely aware of the areas of our home that allow water to run off and not cause damage to the house. And thankfully, it's one less thing on the to do list! #homeowneringlikeaboss

This was done for our house in a few hours by a couple of really short dudes, which I thought was miraculous considering how high the gutters go. Thank goodness for very tall ladders! 

And the results look great but it makes me think of one thing: I wish I would've known what to look for when we did the home inspection!

Looking at the before and after, it's pretty obvious that there are holes there and gutters aren't supposed to be that way! We trusted a home inspector to catch these things but he was working to get us to move forward (helping our realtor get a commission) and not really looking at what's best for us (especially repairs that we could’ve cited to get the seller to come down further on purchase price).

In addition to the gutters, it would've been great to know we had a broken window, a lead water line, a beam needing reinforcement and, oh yeah, termites (excuse me while I go flip a table). Most of these things were visually inspected by the pro's who recommended their replacement so it was likely a better home inspector may have caught some or all of these and that we could've saved a ton of money on the purchase price as a result.

That said, I'm really glad we moved into the house spending a lot less than most folks do so we had money to throw at these issues. We did not buy new furniture right away (though I dreamed of a new sapphire couch) and we also spent minimally on movers by moving a lot (probably too much, in hindsight) of stuff on our own, in a Zipcar SUV (thank you, Honda CR-V, for hauling ass).

If I could go back in time and give myself advice, I'd give myself these 5 pieces of advice for buying an older home:

  1. Look up at the freakin' gutters – if they are not smooth and clean, consider offering 2-5K less.
  2. Don't fixate on putting a ton of money down. While 20% would be great, if putting 10% will leave you with money leftover (and still a reasonable monthly mortgage), do that instead to give yourself a financial cushion to lean on for repairs. 
  3. Ask about lead pipes or the condition of sewer pipes. Get real professionals to inspect them — and eat that cost. And then offer at least 10k less if that's a problem you'd need to fix.
  4. Have an exterminator come and provide an assessment (again, this is a cost you'll have to take on) and don't forget to ask about termites.
  5. Finally, assume you will need to re-paint everything. I wish I would've thought that through more — but more on that another day.

Buying a home in New York City is a huge pain in the rear and was probably more painful for us because we didn't know what we didn't know. If you are reading this and have questions, leave 'em below in the comments.