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Home Inspection - Inspecting a home that has been flipped

All the home renovation shows on TV have created an industry of house flippers. Many of these home flippers are skilled, reliable and honest. But there are those that don't know what they are doing or that cut corners and make the house look good while not fixing the real problems. This blog will explore some of my experiences, good and bad with flipped homes that I have inspected.

Flipped home - looking beyond the new paint.
Flipped homes often have new paint jobs.

Now that is a nice home.

Just last month, I inspected a home built in the 1930s that had been renovated and flipped. Wow was I surprised. This older home in Birmingham was in great condition. It had all new vinyl windows, new doors, floors, HVAC, roof, and kitchen appliances, The house had a new electric panel and had been rewired. The plumbing had been replaced with Pex. The attic had 10 inches of blown insulation, Under the house, the structure was in good shape with no water damaged wood or termite damage. There was a vapor barrier. The new pex plumbing and new wiring were all supported as they should be. almost 90 year old home was in as good a shape as some new homes are. This house was the exception among renovated homes.

Yikes, this house is scary.

Then there was the house I inspected out near the Birmingham airport. This house was built in the 1960s. It had all new flooring, appliances, paint, etc. All the items that a buyer that is only looking at the surface would notice. Of course home inspectors don't just look at the surface. We look in those places home flippers don't want us to look. The home had a new laundry room in the middle of the house, A new laundry room is a common upgrade on a flip. One common problem is a lack of a dryer vent to the exterior of the house, This house had a dryer vent, but it vented directly into the master bedroom closet. This would fill the closet with lint and moisture air.

The home also had a new fireplace, When I checked the damper it was closed. When I opened it I was surprised to see that there was no chimney above the fireplace, just the top of a wooden box. Anyone lighting a fire in this fireplace would fill the house with smoke and perhaps burn the house down,

Later when I got in the crawlspace, I noticed it was full of leaves. Where did these leaves come from. I looked around for a hole in the foundation. I began to check the structure of the home and realized that the portion of the house I was under had been built on a deck. A deck is framed to hold up a deck, not a house,

This was the worst flip I have ever done.

Common issues with renovated homes.

Hidden issues in an area where few buyers dare to venture.
The hidden spaces in a renovated home often have hidden problems. .

There are common problems with renovated homes. These problems are in places that most home buyers can't or don't look. The most common issues are:

  1. No or little insulation in the attic. Since most home buyers don't look in the attic, they will not see this issue.

  2. Electric panel problems. Many panels have safety issues such as 2 wires on one breaker or undersized wires on a breaker. Each of these are fire hazards.

  3. Electric outlets that don't have power. Unless you check all accessible outlets (like a home inspector does) you won't know about this problem until you move into the house and try to use the outlet.

  4. Old wiring in the attic and/or crawlspace. I sometimes find "Knob and Tube" wiring in homes. This is an outdated wiring system and should be evaluated by an electrician.

  5. Windows painted shut. This is also a safety issue. If there was a fire a painted shut window could trap you inside.

  6. Leaking plumbing in the crawlspace or basement. When we do inspections, we run water most of the time we are there trying to find any plumbing issues. We frequently see leaks on the drain lines and sometimes supply lines.

  7. Plumbing backups. Since we run lots of water we frequently observe back ups on the drain lines.

  8. Galvanized pipes. Galvanized pipes rust from the inside. As they rust they cause restriction in water flow which results in pressure loss at fixtures.

  9. Termite damage - In older homes termite damage is common in crawlspaces. There also may be hidden damage that the inspector cannot observe.

  10. Moisture damage - The framing along outer walls and the floors near doors, and under bathrooms and kittens often has moisture damage. This damage can be slight or may be damage that can cause structural failures.

  11. Unprofessional supports. In crawlspaces there are all types of supports used, everything from wood propped under the house to old rusted car jacks.

  12. Dryer that vent into the crawlspace. Dryers should vent out of the house to remove the humid air from the house,

Do I need a home inspection?

Renovated homes need inspections just as all homes need to be inspected. Many of the issues found in renovations are also found in all homes. If you need an inspection in Central Alabama, give me a call at 205-482-8413 and set up your home inspection


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