Lake Home Inspections - Michigan home buyer tips

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:28
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Home inspections can sometimes cause major stress for home buyers whether they are buying a lakefront home in Oakland County Michigan or a regular home in a subdivision in Canton. Today I am going to talk about lake home inspections. Everybody wants to buy a waterfront home that is safe and sound. A home that has good bones and will not be a money pit. So when a home inspector turns up issues with the home my clients ask me about what they should do.   It boils down to many different factors when buying a home and having the lakefront home inspection go bad. 

Lakefront home and property inspections can be tricky business for several reasons.  One is the age of the homes.  Many waterfront homes are older homes built between the 1920's and 1950's.  Homes that were built before today’s tougher building codes.  Some waterfront properties have been added onto. Sometimes multiple times with no real thought to the way it should be done.  Sometimes these homes were added onto the easiest way they could be without redoing some of the existing plumbing, heating or cooling, or wiring. The home owners have taken the cheapest and easiest way of adding on....they just add on to the existing without really incorporating into one system as if the whole house was built at once. So sometimes you get a hodge podge of work and the home inspector finds these issues.

So now you have to make a decision on whether to move forward with the purchase or not. It is all about your comfort level on what the home inspector has found. We can either void the contract because of the home inspection issues, or ask for a reduction in price, or ask for repairs to be done. It is all up to you. It is not me that is going to live in the house and I am not the type of realtor to try to influence the home inspection just to sell a house.  I want you to be happy in the home for years to come and if the home is a money pit then you are not going to be happy with the home.  So what are your options, and what should you do?

Some Oakland County waterfront home buyers wonder whether they should move on to a different home after a home inspection that turns up many issues.  As a local lake realtor with 17 years of experience let me tell you that I have seen things you would never believe.  Issues like mold all over the attic, or a bat infestation. I have seen a floor of a lake house held up by an old tree stump when a home inspection occurred.  Another home inspector turned up issues on a foundation that was braced by poles that was hidden behind a finished wall.

That is why it is so important to have a home inspection done. To have the inspector point out issues that you and I have missed in our visual inspection when buying. As we walked through the house we noticed certain things, but you and I are not home inspectors.  It doesn’t matter whether you are moving to Royal Oak Michigan or Commerce Michigan get a home inspection!  Things like bowing basement walls, old windows, old furnace, or a roof that needs replacing are sometimes items the buyer or I notice.  But inspection of crawl spaces or attics may reveal mold or structural issues that may be concerning.

The major issues of a home inspection I feel are concerning are:

    1. Health & safety
    1. Environmental
    1. Structural
    1. Costly repairs

The first two items of health & safety & environmental may overlap in some way.  For example an old fuel tank in the ground is definitely a long term environmental concern. But what happens if the fuel tank caves in when somebody walks on it. Then it is a safety concern. Or some of the old fuel may leak into the ground water system causing health problems because it is in your well now. Mold also can be health and safety for a person that has major asthma or breathing problems in addition to being an environmental issue for the buyer.  Most mold can be fixed or remediated so the average person can live in the house without future health issues or mold problems.  However if you cannot solve why the mold is growing or there is a possibility that there may be more mold behind walls or areas you cannot see then it is a major issue.  It may be a home that you run from.

Remember some waterfront homes have been built on soft ground.  So every once in a while you will have sinking foundations.  Years ago they didn’t do wide footing, or pilings.  There are homes out there where the home is sinking in a corner.   I also believe major structural issues like bowing basement walls, or basement walls that have had major fixes that will influence or worry future home buyers may be a home that you want to pass one.  Sloping floors are quite common in older homes, however if there are sloping floors, along with major drywall cracks or outside brick cracks in the same area it may be showing that there are foundation issues of the home sinking a little.  I feel sometimes it is best to err on the side of caution.

Lastly costly repairs are determined by the buyer.  How much can you afford to assume if the seller reduces the price?  Let’s put it this way….a young home buyer that is just starting out may not have the money to do the costly repair where as  an older couple that is financially set may be able to tackle the major repair.  My word of warning is to be sure to understand the potential costs before you sign an inspection addendum.

I tell my clients it is not me that is buying the house.  You the buyer has to feel comfortable with the issue before you move forward.  There are so many different types of issues that could come up in a home inspection that could de-rail the purchase.  The key is to investigate the solutions, the costs and then make a decision.

I hope this explains a little more about when to move onto the next lake home.  Russ Ravary’s home buying tips on home inspections.  Feel free to call me at (248) 310-6239 with any question you may have.   Or you can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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