Inspection Day is often a bit nerve-wracking for both buyer and seller. I’m not too concerned about my current house’s condition; after all, it’s practically new. My future house, though, is much older. I’ve stopped calling it an “old house” since the house and I are about the same age. 53 isn’t really old, is it? Middle-aged, perhaps, but that sounds dull and frumpy, almost as bad as “old.” I prefer the French expression “of a certain age” to describe someone about my age – neither young nor old, even a bit mysterious as no age is specified. My new house is “a house of a certain age” and that becomes even more evident when the house inspector arrives.
I don’t have buyer’s remorse, not really, but after making such a big decision, it’s not unusual to have second thoughts, which I start to have once the inspector begins talking about all the house’s defects, big and small. To be fair, he told me several times that it was a nice little house and he liked it. Most of the problems are “dating issues.” At one time in the past, the house would have been up to code, but it’s sadly behind the times now, especially when looking at energy concerns. It’s on the leaky side. The insulation should really be doubled or tripled. The windows are the originals and it wouldn’t hurt to start replacing them, one by one. The main problem is the hot water heater – not the tank itself, but some crazy person must have installed it. These were not the inspector’s actual words; what he said was “In my 20 years as an inspector, I have never seen anything like it.” He shook his head a lot and even laughed a bit as he explained it all. Pipes and cables everywhere installed every way except the correct way. OK, that goes on my list to the seller. The AC, while working, is old and dirty and has some broken parts. Hmmm. The question becomes whether I should fix it or replace it. I wonder how much money we can get out of the seller. There are no smoke alarms in the bedrooms, he continued. That makes me sit up straight. I’m very careful about fire safety. Add that to the list.
It’s not that I expected the house to be in perfect condition. That’s the trade-off for getting a more mature house (so many parallels to people) and I had assumed it would need some work. The challenge is to prioritize it all. To the non-inspector’s eye, the house looks just fine. I do want to repaint some walls and replace the bedrooms’ carpeting. The yard needs some landscaping, too. Fixing internal problems seems a bit dull but they’ll make the biggest difference in how the house functions (again those parallels). I’m starting to calculate all the costs in my head, wondering how much money I’ll have to spend after all the closing costs. The inspector notices my concern and reassures me – the foundation is solid, the roof is fairly new, and the electrical system is good. It’s a nice house; I like it. I take a deep breath. It’s OK, I tell myself, all relationships have some glitches but given an open mind, patience, and in this case, some money, they can be worked out.