Author Topic: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?  (Read 3071 times)

CowboyAndIndian

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Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« on: July 06, 2016, 03:30:00 AM »
I'm buying a condo in St. Pete, Florida which should be ready by the end of this year.

When I bought my present house, I had a home inspection which found quite a few issues and was very helpful. The inspector found issues which I would not have found.

For a brand new condo, wondering if there is any need to have a home inspector check out a condo? These are the pro's and con's for hiring an inspector
  • There will be no roof issues (I'm not on the top floor).(Con)
  • Structure is all concrete, so will there be any structural issues which an inspector can find? (Con)
  • Like any new construction, there will be errors in wiring/plumbing(Pro)

I cannot come up with any more pros and I am leaning towards a DIY home inspection.I am a bit more knowledgeable about houses and how they are built in the last 20 years since I bought my present house. Also, have a few home improvement projects under my belt.

Do you have a list of things which need to be inspected? Heres my preliminary list
  • Verify each switch turns on/off its light/fan
  • Test each electrical outlet with an outlet tester
  • Test GFCI with test button
  • Test each tap for hot/cold water
  • Flush each toilet, verify it is not connected to hot water
  • Test showers/baths for outflow issues
  • Verify water pressure with multiple taps open
  • Verify exhaust vents are moving air
  • Smoke detectors test (how to test?)
  • Kitchen dishwasher test
  • Kitchen Range/Oven/Microwave/hood test

What have I missed?


CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2016, 11:04:25 AM »
One more question, do we need to test the breaker box and water main shutoff?

frugaliknowit

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2016, 01:47:38 PM »
You need someone that knows what they are doing to open the breaker box and look for funk.  Also:  While you don't live on the top floor, you (and the other owners) are financially responsible for the roof (if there's a leak once the HOA takes over from the developer, the HOA (of which you are a member) has to fix it...then possibly sue the developer (good luck with that, LOL!)).

Hiring a home inspector for a new condo is "a bit of a gray area", but I would do it, given the risk involved.  Developers will do whatever they can get away with.

tonysemail

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2016, 02:04:27 PM »
run the heater and a/c

Systems101

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2016, 02:29:07 PM »
- Count how many plugs/lights are on each circuit.
- If you're really picky, only have one circuit on at a time and make sure a plug isn't controlled by having any of a set of circuit breakers on (home inspectors usually don't go this far).  Use this as an opportunity to map out all your circuit breakers, since the picture/drawing will be useful in the future.
- Test to ensure every sink's emergency drain works (and that the emergency drain doesn't leak into the area below the sink)
- Verify that windows/doors seal
- Verify that the smoke detectors ALL go off when you push the test button on one of them (assuming FL uses current national fire code, they will all have to be wired together).
- Throw the master breaker and test the smoke detectors again.  They all must be battery backed-up.  (But check that you are actually powering them by battery - there should be a light that starts blinking as a warning when they lose their main power source - if that doesn't happen, they may be wired for the entire building)
- Outside railing (if any) is secure
- Doors actually lock and unlock, including bathroom doors with the push button locks (and hole in the front to unlock).  You should have been left an unlocking pin per door that can lock with a push button.
- Test every cabinet drawer and door.  Including: ensure every knob is put in straight.

To the point frugaliknowit made: As far as the overall community association, consider pushing your association to have a "Transition Defect Study" done.  This is analogous to a home inspection for the entire community.  It will be a few thousand dollars, but having a PE sign off that things are wrong puts a ton of pressure on the builder to fix it before it ends up being a problem and they are in court trying to explain why they ignored a PE's opinion.  Note that the transition study is in addition to a capital reserve study that your association should probably also be doing in the first year of independent operation.


CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2016, 03:47:57 PM »
run the heater and a/c

Good one. I did not even think of a heater in FL :-)

stoaX

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2016, 03:51:28 PM »
Since it is new construction, is there guarantee or warranty from the builder that comes along with the purchase?  If so, that would be a "con" in your decision making.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2016, 03:51:55 PM »
Frugalknowit and Systems101,

Great point about the  "Transition Defect Study". Wonder how I can get started with one, not knowing the other condo owners.



CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2016, 03:52:45 PM »
Since it is new construction, is there guarantee or warranty from the builder that comes along with the purchase?  If so, that would be a "con" in your decision making.

Back to reading the docs. Need to check to see what they have. Thanks

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2016, 03:57:36 PM »
Got a  couple more
  • Test the door bell
  • Check for damaged tile or wood flooring.

Systems101

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2016, 05:04:12 PM »
Frugalknowit and Systems101,

Great point about the  "Transition Defect Study". Wonder how I can get started with one, not knowing the other condo owners.

Learn when the condo association will be handed over to the owners.  At that point, the new board should trigger the defect study (and the reserve study).  You will likely get a management company to do certain logistics for the association (if it is of any size anyway), and they can help you bid out the studies. Best to have one company do both so you know the overlap and they can ensure no gaps.  A "Reserve Specialist" is a special type of PE that is one resource to help find folks that can do it.

So it's incentive for you to clearly understand when the transition will occur, show up, vote for new board members, and then talk to who is voted in as board members (or decide to be one yourself) and then push to ensure it happens.  Don't have the discussion in the transition vote meeting with the builder/GC still there.  Get the contact info of the new board members and contact them offline to ensure your thoughts are heard.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2016, 05:17:17 PM »
Yes, I did hire a home inspector before buying my brand-new condo six years ago.  It's better if you can find a person with lots of experience specifically inspecting condos as opposed to standalone homes because there are issues more commonly found in condos that you want them to really look out for.  Inspection is a fairly small price to pay in order to head off even small issues that then get resolved very promptly.  In case not already mentioned above, if you have a balcony, make sure that the slope is proper -- you do not want the rain water to put rolling in towards your condo, which can lead to water intrusion over time.  Speaking of water intrusion, have the inspector very carefully inspect all the outer waterproofing that he can (without scaffolding/harness) -- make sure all the caulking and sealing is good and complete.

ETA:  For the scope of the inspection, you need to read the condo declaration to see how it defines your "unit."  It may be just within your walls, or it may include things that are physically located on the roof or elsewhere in the building.  Have your inspector go over each part of your "unit."
« Last Edit: July 06, 2016, 05:23:56 PM by LeRainDrop »

FIRE me

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2016, 05:24:41 PM »
I'm buying a condo in St. Pete, Florida which should be ready by the end of this year.

What have I missed?

What you missed is that you're probably about to spend 100K or more, and you want to cheap out over a $200 or $300 home inspection. Not at all wise, in my opinion.

Sibley

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2016, 11:10:20 AM »
I went to a first time homebuyer's thing at my library. They had a real estate agent and home inspector there. The home inspector said to always get an inspection, even on new construction. The reason he gave was that required inspections while building aren't as through as they used to be, so even obvious errors could be missed. A good inspector should find at least some of these. Makes sense to me.

Axecleaver

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2016, 05:12:20 AM »
New construction seems even more important to get an inspection. Mrs. Axe worked in real estate for a while, she found that new construction tended to have a lot more defects than older homes. She practiced in a high-growth area where a lot of corners were cut.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2016, 05:20:56 AM »
Good points LeRainDrop, Fire me, Sibley and Axe.

Any ideas on how to find a condo specific inspector? Would there be someone like that?

LeRainDrop

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2016, 03:10:39 PM »
Any ideas on how to find a condo specific inspector? Would there be someone like that?

I doubt that there are people who ONLY inspect condos -- you just want to make sure that you don't hire an inspector who ONLY has experience with houses.  If you get friends who can tell you who they used and if they're happy with that person, especially if your friends also bought a condo, that would be a good place to start.  Otherwise, when you call a few inspectors to screen them, just be sure to ask how much experience they have specifically on condo inspections.

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Re: Hire Home inspector for a new condo?
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2016, 03:24:37 PM »
Use the same one that you used before. If he can inspect a house, he can inspect a condo.