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When buying a Boston Beacon Hill condo for sale make sure your home inspector checks these items out

Sometimes when I am looking at Boston condos for sale or Beacon Hill homes that are for sale and I see a picture of the basement I can almost smell it. Damp basements are very common in old houses. With the recent rains, I can usually smell the damp basement as soon as I enter the house.

Some of the basements will have puddles of water, and others will appear dry but smell wet. Some will have dehumidifiers running.

Damp or wet basements are not necessarily a deal killer when buying an old house. It is important to understand where the water is coming from. Some parts of Boston are built-in landfill areas (ie Boston Back Bay). In those old houses or basement condos, the water tends to seep up through the basement floor.

In other cases, water is leaking in through. basement walls. Maybe the grading around the house needs improvement or the house needs gutters with extensions that will keep water away from the foundation. Sometimes there is water damage in a basement because of a plumbing leak at some point.

Boston condo buyers should get a complete home inspection and find out as much as they can about that wet basement.

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I always recommend making an inspection contingent offer. Sometimes Beacon Hill home buyers will skip the inspection in multiple offer situations but it isn’t the best practice.

Over the years I am noticing that it has become common for the buyer’s real estate agent to choose an inspector. I have had clients ask me to choose for them. A home inspection is an important part of the buyer’s due diligence. It is true there is some work involved in calling inspectors and scheduling the inspection but houses are expensive and so are unexpected home repairs.

If they ask what they usually do I like to give my clients a list of at least three inspectors that I can recommend. I usually recommend four or five. They are people who have a lot of experience and who have excellent communication skills. Part of an inspector’s job is to explain things to the buyers.

The inspection should be as much about understanding the house as it is about determining if it needs repairs. A good inspector will walk a buyer through turning off the power or the water.

Not all inspectors are equal. I am not a fan of the inspection franchise companies but do know a couple of good inspectors who are with the franchises.

Always choose an inspector who has a lot of experience especially if you are buying an old house. If you buy a house in St.Paul it is safe to assume that it has lead-based paint in it someplace because the houses are old.

It is fairly common to buy a house and have something in its break in the first couple of weeks or months. Start building your emergency fund today.

When buying a Boston Beacon Hill condo for sale make sure your home inspector check these items out

If you’re in the process of purchasing a Boston Beacon Hill condo for sale, you and your buyer’s agent will look at many Beacon Hill condos for sale before finally deciding on the one. This can be an emotion-filled process as you have so many things to consider.  Hopefully, if you see a Boston condo for sale that you really like and you have zero construction knowledge, your agent and home inspector can help you identify some common issues associated with the home so that you are aware of the conditions of the property.  If you work with an agent with enough construction knowledge, you won’t have to wait till you put in an offer and pay $400-500 for an inspection to find out the house needs major components replaced.

If during the first showing of the Boston condo for sale, you and your agent couldn’t go through everything because you only have 30 minutes before you have to go see another Beacon Hill condo showing appointment, make sure you go back there for a second showing so you can look through things.  Now that our Boston condos market is heading into the spring market, you will have to schedule the second showing well in advance because of buyer competition.

Items to review with your home inspector and Beacon Hill broker

1. Roof

Perform a visual inspection from the ground. You should be able to see what the roof looks like in most cases without a ladder.  Is it an asphalt tile roof?  Concrete tile roof?  If the roof is old, you will see the age as the roof will probably show discoloration, lack of granules, thick moss, and/or other physical damages. Most asphalt roofs last between 20-40 years.  Concrete tile roofs last about 50 years but they are rarer in the Pacific Northwest.  Replacing the roof is a big cost to a home buyer. If you are only replacing the shingles, it can cost about $10K for a 1500-2000 square feet house. If you’re replacing sheathing and underlayment, the cost will be much higher.  In many cases, a completely new roof can easily cost you $20K on a 3-bedroom house.  If the price point of the house you are looking at is already at the top of your budget and in the top range of its comparable homes in the neighborhood, maybe you don’t even want to put an offer in if you have this knowledge that this house will need a new roof.

2. Furnace

First, find out whether it’s a gas furnace or an electric furnace. The expected lifespan is different. Also, maintenance can extend or reduce the lifespan of a furnace.  Many Beacon Hill homeowners don’t realize they need to replace the filter every year or so or else it will overwork the furnace thereby reducing its lifespan.  If you look at the furnace, there is usually some information on when it was built. If not, pull the manual out and see when it’s dated. Chances are the date on the manual is the date of the manufacturing of the furnace.  If the furnace is old, it raises a concern.  You may need to look into hiring a furnace specialist inspector.  General inspectors don’t inspect furnaces in depth.  If you have a bad furnace, it needs to be negotiated with the seller.

3. Drainage

In the Boston metro, we have our fair share of snow and rain.  Because of the rain, a good drainage system can divert rainwater away from the condominium building.  Make sure downspouts don’t pour water onto the ground close to the Beacon Hill building especially if you’re buying a ground floor or below Beacon Hill condo. 

If you’re buying a Beacon Hill townhouse, many older homes have basements.  All basements are subject to some stress and potential damage from built-up hydro pressure in the soil behind the concrete walls. There are many ways of waterproofing basements but you won’t be able to see what’s in the ground.  Buying a Beacon Hill house with a sump pump in the basement is an excellent idea.  If not, make sure you smell the basement and look for any water damage.  That includes discoloration of drywalls if finished. If unfinished, you may be able to spot past water damages on the concrete.

5. Mold

Look for any mold growth.  Mold usually grows in the basement.  Needless to say, buying a Beacon Hill condo for sale with mold is a bad idea.

6. Proper Construction Permit

I can’t believe how many Boston Beacon Hill homes I have looked into as a real estate agent have had some building permit issues.  If you are a buyer, you will want the seller to take care of this prior to closing.

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