Thinking of buying a flipped home in Dayton? Tips from a home inspector.

When clients want to look at flipped homes in Dayton, I give them a little Flipped Home Speech, which goes something like this: “This was a foreclosure, which means it sat vacant for an extended period of time. The seller flipped this home quickly and often this means they concentrated on big impact cosmetics, but don’t be wowed by that. They may not have done anything to the mechanics, or the mechanics may not have been done well, in other words, you could still have a lot of work to do, and the work that was done might be problematic…”

This doesn’t happen with every flipped home, of course, but it happens enough that a savvy buyer needs to look beyond the shiny new stuff- (this is a photo of leaky plumbing in brand new cabinetry). But you don’t have to take my word for it. From GaryNSmith.net is a great post about potential problems with flipped homes, written by Minneapolis home inspector Reuben Saltzman, describing what he typically sees in these homes. Here’s part:

When looking at flipped houses, you might notice poorly designed kitchens (ie – cabinet doors / drawers that are blocked by other cabinets), nail holes that aren’t filled, appliances installed without an outlet to plug them in to, and loose / unsecured countertops or base cabinets.  Bathrooms will often have vanity cabinets that are way too small for the space because the flipper bought the ‘special buy’ vanity, top, and faucet combo on sale at whatever home improvement store was close.

The handrails are new, but they might come right out of the wall if you pull on them.  I’ve found a few handrails at flipped houses that were only attached to drywall.

Electrical
There is a brand new circuit breaker panel installed in the basement, which replaced the old 60-amp fuse panel.  The new panel has a state electrical inspection sticker on it, and everything looks great.  I don’t find many electrical problems on flipped houses.  Even the worst home flippers usually know better than to mess with the electrical; they don’t want their houses to burn down.

Heating
The home has an old, unsafe heating system at the end of it’s life expectancy.  The flipper has documentation from ‘their guy’, some heating contractor that you’ve never heard of, saying the heating system is safe.  You should be suspicious.  I’ve found heating safety check forms filled out that weren’t worth the paper they were written on.  I’ve found furnaces and boilers creating high levels of carbon monoxide that the heating contractors said were fine.  In one particular case, the home flipper claimed my equipment was faulty; we argued for a while, and eventually the flipper had the gas company come out to do their own test.  The gas company promptly red-tagged the heating plant and shut it down.

Another possibility is that the heating system was completely replaced.  If so, great, but check the furnace’s blower fan for drywall dust.  There’s a good chance that the flipper had the blower fan running while they were doing their drywall sanding, and the interior of the furnace is completely caked in drywall dust.  The photo below shows a close-up view of a furnace’s blower fan blades covered in a thick layer of drywall dust.

There is a lot more that Reuben covers, including plumbing and exterior issues, complete with photos,so please do read the entire post, here. Reuben’s experience should give you plenty to consider if you are thinking of buying a flipped home.

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