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Engine Joe
Going Strange...
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
 
2007-07-28, 12:51

Anyone here ever bought a house?

My wife and I are buying our first condo in NYC (closing has been set for the end of August, though I may roll it over into the first week of September). I've been doing some web research on the pre-closing inspection and all that's been very useful as a starting point. But I thought that maybe some of the folks on here might have some home-buying experience and thus helpful tips on what to look out for, the best ways to test for things, etc.

Obviously, since it's a condo, there are a few differences from buying an entire structure on a piece of land. Still, any thoughts would be welcome!
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Windswept
On Pacific time
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Moderator's Pub
 
2007-07-28, 15:29

Well, I did buy a condo before I had my current house built.

The one thing I didn't catch in the condo inspection was that one of the electrical outlets in the master bedroom was non-functional.

So for my new house, I went around with a little plug-in light and tested every electrical outlet.

Also, in my new house inspection, I had ordered dual-pane windows throughout the house, but discovered that a large, non-opening type window near the front door only had a single pane. They replaced it with a dual-pane window.

Also, I had some thin, shot-gun-slot type windows installed in places in the house where I wanted some natural light coming in, and they had forgotten to order shade screens for those specialty windows.

Also, I had carefully measured the refrigerator space in the model home, and purchased a large side-by-side fridge for that spot. But after the house was built, discovered that the space for the fridge was a few inches narrower than in the model. So a carpenter had to come out, remove that section of the kitchen countertop, and saw off an overhang on one side. That gave an extra inch or so for the fridge.

I discovered that the countertop in the upstairs bathroom had been significantly scratched - by the painter who came to touch-up the wall paint. He had stood on the countertop to do his painting, but had little rocks embedded in the ridges of the rubber soles of his shoes, which scratched the countertop.

Look for weird spots on the walls where the drywall has been patched.

One major problem I had after moving in, was that one day I noticed a stain on the (ground-floor) master-suite closet carpet. I couldn't imagine how a stain happened to be there. Then I looked up, and saw that the closet light was full of... water!... and had been dripping onto the carpet directly underneath.

They came and cut a bunch of holes in the closet walls trying to find a leaking pipe, to no avail. Turns out, a carpenter nailing trim along the bottom of the wall in the upstairs bedroom had shot a nail into the upstairs bathroom water-supply pipe. Once that bathroom shower started being used, the pipe started leaking water under the bedroom carpet.

Half that bedroom's carpet was soaked, had to be pulled up, and special fans were put in place to dry out the carpet and the flooring under the carpet. Of course, the leaking pipe was repaired. They never did really get the stain out of the closet carpet too well though.

Also, the guys that delivered the fridge from Circuit City were supposed to install an expensive, under-sink water filter on the line that sent water to the fridge icemaker. When they finished the installation, they gave me a paper and said I had to sign saying that the job had been done with no flaws, or my guarantee on the filter would be cancelled. ( )

Well, I looked around and everything seemed to be in order, so I signed. Turns out, the filter installer had knocked a chip out of the inside of the porcelain sink, but had stuck the chip back (temporarily) so it wasn't noticeable.

Honestly, it seemed like every workman who came to repair something, caused *other* damage in the process of his work. Grrr.

Oh, yeah, another problem. Turns out, when it would rain, the front concrete porch in front of the front door was slanted slightly, so that the the rainwater would flow under the door-threshhold plate and under the carpet inside. A guy had to come out with a grinding machine that ground the porch so that rainwater flowed 'away' from the doorway.

But all these things are covered under your one-year warranty. Just be sure to use the fireplace and every appliance enough times to be sure they are working properly.

Be SURE to get dual-pane windows, by the way. They are SO worth it, for so many reasons, especially for outside sound-control and dust elimination, in addition their insulation properties.
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Engine Joe
Going Strange...
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
 
2007-07-28, 16:07

Wow! What a comprehensive list of troubles and travails! Thanks for that write up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
They came and cut a bunch of holes in the closet walls trying to find a leaking pipe, to no avail. Turns out, a carpenter nailing trim along the bottom of the wall in the upstairs bedroom had shot a nail into the upstairs bathroom water-supply pipe. Once that bathroom shower started being used, the pipe started leaking water under the bedroom carpet.
You know, you'd be amazed at the crappy job done in some construction these days. My father bought a place a few years back - new - and it was only after he'd been using the bath/shower for a few weeks that a massive load of water that had been pooling made itself known in a messy and expensive way. Turns out, the plumber never installed the "L" shaped connector pipe between two pipes (one horizontal, one vertical), so all the water was just running out the end of one pipe into the house structure.

Quote:
Be SURE to get dual-pane windows, by the way. They are SO worth it, for so many reasons, especially for outside sound-control and dust elimination, in addition their insulation properties.
The bad news is that we don't have any control over this -- though the good news is that we will have dual-paned windows, nonetheless. Our building is a landmarked art deco tower, so anything relating to the exterior or façade has to go through the landmarks commission. So I can't just put in what I want. Fortunately, the developer who's doing the building reno dealt with the commission and (amongst other things) we got our windows! But window box herb gardens and the like may be verboten...

(and we'll need sound and dust control in the building -- the area we're moving to is in the middle of a huge economic boom/revitalization, and there are more than a couple of construction projects in the pipeline in the general area)
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JohnnyTheA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2007-07-28, 16:22

Check how old the water heater is. If its a year or so away from its expiration, figure on 1,000 for parts and labor for replacement (it might be less but not on a weekend when it breaks). Also check the pipes that feed in/out of the tank. They can get really corroded and need replacement as well. Its one of those things owners don't check for.

If you get "any" flack over stuff you find remember thats its a buyer's market again. Its really hard to sell a home at the 3-month-ago prices these days. So you have the power.

JTA
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Windswept
On Pacific time
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Moderator's Pub
 
2007-07-28, 16:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine Joe View Post
Wow! What a comprehensive list of troubles and travails! Thanks for that write up.
You're very welcome, Joe.

Quote:
You know, you'd be amazed at the crappy job done in some construction these days. My father bought a place a few years back - new - and it was only after he'd been using the bath/shower for a few weeks that a massive load of water that had been pooling made itself known in a messy and expensive way. Turns out, the plumber never installed the "L" shaped connector pipe between two pipes (one horizontal, one vertical), so all the water was just running out the end of one pipe into the house structure.
Omigosh. That reminds me of a house across the street. After the people had lived there for some time, they started noticing a really horrible, rotten smell coming from somewhere. Nobody could figure out the source. Turned out... similar to your story... all the wastewater from the kitchen had been flowing into the dirt under the house, under the concrete slab, because the wastewater pipe had not been connected. Rotting food particles accumulated down there. Obviously, they had to come jackhammer out the middle of the kitchen floor, clean out the disgusting, slimed, rotting mess down there *shiver*, and hook up the pipes. Wow, I was glad to have my problems rather than theirs.

Oh, one more to add. My outside water line, bringing water into the house from the city's lines, started to leak. Turns out, it was covered by a class action lawsuit because plastic pipe had been installed instead of copper piping.

Then, after the master plumber who came to supervise the repair left, he left behind a worker who installed the new copper piping, but ran the new pipe *over* the close-to-the-surface pipe of the automatic sprinkling system.

Result was that the newly-installed main copper water line to the house was just like two or three inches below the surface of the ground - and easily accessible to damage by anyone doing yard work. *sigh* They had to come back out later and redo that section of pipe.

Quote:
The bad news is that we don't have any control over this -- though the good news is that we will have dual-paned windows, nonetheless. Our building is a landmarked art deco tower, so anything relating to the exterior or façade has to go through the landmarks commission. So I can't just put in what I want. Fortunately, the developer who's doing the building reno dealt with the commission and (amongst other things) we got our windows! But window box herb gardens and the like may be verboten...

(and we'll need sound and dust control in the building -- the area we're moving to is in the middle of a huge economic boom/revitalization, and there are more than a couple of construction projects in the pipeline in the general area)
Sounds like you are going to have a fantastic place there, Joe. Congratulations on embarking on this new and thrilling adventure of home-owning.
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Perfecting_Zero
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
 
2007-07-28, 22:50

Whether home or condominium, one important thing to "inspect," before commiting to long-term close proximity, is the neighbors! Without going into the details, I've had some great neighbors, and I've had neighbors straight from the script of a bad movie.

"We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin
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Engine Joe
Going Strange...
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
 
2007-07-29, 07:41

Sadly, being a new reno, there are no neighbors. But a blog and buyers only message board was set up by one of the buyers, so I've at least gotten some vague sense of what a few of our neighbors might possibly be like, sorta (equivocal enough for you? )
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