So you have purchased a house, totally remodeled it and it looks beautiful!
Time to flip it, go sit on a beach somewhere, and drink margaritas.
The listing says something like: “Remodeled down to the studs and looks just like new construction. New Kitchen moved to location with great views, new bathrooms, finished off basement with 4th bedroom. All new windows and doors. All new roof. All new electrical and plumbing.”
I have no experience writing listings but I think you get the idea.
The house is listed, an offer has been accepted and the inspector has been called.
Even without digging into any public records, when the inspector pulls up to the curb and the house is barely recognizable as a 1947 house, he will reach in his bag and find his glasses labeled “recently remodeled.”
These glasses allow the inspector to filter out the nice finishes and fancy appliances that are an attempt at hiding the red flags that would otherwise be visible to just about everyone.
So what are some of the red flags that an inspector might see that would tell them perhaps this home was not remodeled to current standards and building permits were most likely not drawn?
1. No handrail on the new deck stairs to the front door.
2. No lateral support brackets on the deck.
3. Deck ledger not flashed.
4. Deck ledger not bolted and not pressure treated.
5. Open risers on stairs with openings greater than 4 inches.
6. No permanent utility splices on wires at electrical mast.
7. Downspouts terminate at foundation.
8. Grade slopes toward the home in some areas.
9. No eave flashings on roof.
10. No rake flashings on roof.
11. New roof is third layer.
12. No safety glass in panels next to entry door(s).
13. Bedroom windows do not meet egress requirements.
14. No egress from new basement “bedroom.”
15. Open fireplace in master bedroom.
16. Window in shower/tub not safety glass.
17. Handrails with ends that do not return to the wall.
18. Enclosed spaces under stairs not drywalled.
19. Hollow core door between house and garage.
20. No self-closure device on house/garage door.
21. Dead bolts keyed on both sides present.
22. No flashings behind siding butt joints.
23. Interior bearing walls improperly removed.
24. No utility company seal on meter.
25. No light switch at top and bottom of basement stairs.
26. Electrical receptacles missing at required locations.
27. Tandem breakers installed at non-approved locations in the electrical panel.
28. No in-use type covers at exposed electrical outlet locations at the exterior.
29. Ground wires and neutral wires comingled in the sub-panel.
30. Multiple lugging of neutral wires in panelboards.
31. Multiple lugging of wires on breakers not rated for more than one wire.
32. Multi-wire circuits improperly wired.
33. Missing handle-ties on Multi-wire circuits.
34. Abandoned knob & tube wiring still in place.
35. 3 prong receptacles testing as ungrounded
36. Bootleg grounds.
37. No inter-system bonding terminal
38. Can lights not rated for insulation contact/not air-tight type.
39. All light bulbs ion the home are incandescent type.
40. Smoke alarms not interconnected.
41. No smoke alarms inside of bedrooms.
42. Gas piping not bonded.
43. Panelboard not properly labeled.
44. Only one countertop receptacle circuit in kitchen.
45. Electrical boxes with wrong or missing covers.
46. Wire splices not in junction boxes.
47. Garbage disposal wired with NM cable.
48. Flexible conduit not connected to garbage disposal.
49. Bonding missing around pressure regulators, water filters etc.
50. Metal drains not bonded.
51. Metallic components within 5’ of tub/shower not GFCI protected.
52. Non-enclosed light fixture in shower/tub area.
53. GFCI protection missing at required locations.
54. AFCI protection missing at required locations.
55. No tamper resistant receptacles.
56. No Lock-out devices present where required.
57. Receptacles downstream of GFCI not properly labeled.
58. Porcelain incandescent bulb holders in closets.
59. Pressure regulator missing.
60. Pressure regulator is present but there is no expansion tank.
61. Water temperature is too high.
62. No thermostatically controlled shower/tub fixtures.
63. No back-water valve installed for the new basement bathroom.
64. Seismic strapping missing on water heater.
65. TPRV improperly terminated.
66. No air-gap at TPRV Drain
67. More than 4, 90 degree elbows on TPRV Drain.
68. Flexible piping on TPRV Drain.
69. No pan under water heater in finished basement.
70. No foam pad under electric water heater in basement.
71. Air gap device for dishwasher missing.
72. Silicone caulk at the tub or shower/tile wall connection.
73. Toilets not caulked to floor.
74. Corrugated components on the drains of sinks.
75. Auto-vents instead of air admittance valves.
76. No back-flow protection for irrigation system.
77. No access to motor of whirlpool bath.
78. S-traps installed on sinks.
79. Laundry stand-pipe 1-1/2” pipe.
HEATING & ENERGY EFFICIENCY & VENTILATION:
80. No duct testing certificate.
81. Furnace located in Basement bedroom.
82. Furnace used during construction.
83. No whole house ventilation system.
84. No weather-stripping and/or insulation on attic access hatch.
85. Inadequate insulation in attic.
86. Missing insulation baffles around b-vents.
87. Regular duct tape present on pipe connections.
88. Corrugated vent pipe at range hood.
89. Exhaust fan caps terminated at exterior at caps without back-draft dampers and screens.
90. Dryer exhaust has a screen.
91. Insulation not in permanent contact with sub-floor in crawl space.
92. No weather-stripping and insulation on crawl space access panel in entryway closet.
93. No vapor barrier/ground cover in crawl space.
94. Ductwork in crawl space not insulated.
95. Ductwork in attic not insulated.
96. Windows installed sideways
97. Kitchen with no means of mechanical ventilation.
98. PEX piping without insulation.
99. No insulation on any of the house water supply piping.
100. Skylight wells not insulated.
While no house is going to have all of these issues, or even very many of them, all would be a red flag that work was less than professionally done.
These and other things would certainly jump out at the inspector wearing his or her special glasses.
This list is just some of the very “common” things found on newly remodeled homes and other types of houses could have different red flags as well. The number of issues will also vary with the extent of the remodeling done. Obviously more “cosmetic” flips will have less of the things on the list, but there is still room for serious safety issues.
Anyone flipping a house (or hired by the person flipping the house), who reads this list and does not know what some of the things on this list are, would be consistent with their not knowing enough to be remodeling the house in the first place. Some of the items on this list are also specific to Washington State and based on the most recent building codes (since July 2014).
Don’t let red flags ruin your day!
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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