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Rosie on the House

Important questions to ask when buying a house

(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

You finally found the home of your dreams and you’re eager to close the deal.

You Probably picked the house because it has been well-maintained, but sometimes that’s not the case.

The age of a house can also be an issue in terms of repairs needed, so have a home inspection done and look carefully at any problem areas the inspection might turn up.

Recently we talked to two Rosie-Certified home inspectors, David Woityra of Seal of Approval in Tucson, and Toby Karlquist of The Inspector in Mesa. They mentioned six areas to focus on, along with estimates of what some fixes might cost.

What is the electric system like?

Many electrical issues occur because of fixes that homeowners did themselves or that resulted from poor work done by unlicensed electricians.

Mistakes may have been made with wiring an electrical panel or installing new outlets in the house. Replacing and updating a panel can cost up to $2,000 or more, depending on how big a house is.

If the house and the panel are 25 years old or more, a new panel may be needed soon – particularly if you buy new appliances. You also want the house to have what are called ground fault circuit interrupter outlets (GFCIs) inside bathrooms, kitchen and utility room as well as outside the house.

Is the roof sound?

An inspector can determine if there are cracked tiles or disintegrating asphalt shingles on the roof. He also looks in the attic for signs of leaks and damage to insulation.

Evidence of dried leaks might be found on walls and ceilings.

If it’s an older home, it could cost from $15,000 to $20,000 to replace the entire roof. Just making repairs could cost $8,000 to $10,000.

Are there signs of drainage or rot or mold?

Improper drainage of storm water can damage a home’s foundations. This often happens in Arizona partly because homes don’t have gutters.

When water sits in big puddles next to a house, the soil can swell. Over the years, the flooring can even “heave up” because water seeps under a concrete slab. That can mean foundation repairs.

Moisture from rain can also get inside the outside stucco covering of your home through tiny cracks, seep into drywall and cause mold damage on walls.

How old is the heating and air conditioning system?

Believe it or not, the HVAC system can still be running after 20 to 25 years in some houses. That’s great, but it probably will need replacing soon, and that can cost up to $10,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on how big the house it.

Have termites invaded the house?

Arizona is definitely termite country and almost every house will eventually have termite problems.

But if you have the home inspected regularly and act quickly against termites, you can prevent serious damage.

A termite inspection must be done before you buy.

If there is a problem, you will often see termite tubes on the concrete stem wall of the house. This is a small section at the bottom of exterior walls where stucco or bricks or siding ends.

These mud shelter tubes may crawl up the concrete aimed at getting termites into the home’s wood frame. Sometimes you even find tubes hanging from ceilings.

Have any major remodeling projects been done in the home?

If they have been made, you want to know if the remodeler (or homeowner) got the proper permits from the city or county. Did the work then meet requirements of the local building code?

If the work wasn’t code compliant, it could cost many thousands of dollars to repair later on.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at RosieontheHouse.com – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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