Special Information on FORECLOSURE Inspections
Foreclosures often involve the unique problem of having no utilities on (water, power, gas) when I show up in spite of promises and commitments (from the agents or the bank or interim property managers). It ends up wasting your time and money as one of two things happen:
We jointly decide to cancel the inspection and I have to charge you a cancellation fee of $75 for my time and gas. I can then come back and do the inspection for the originally agreed fee when all utilities are indeed on.
- We decide to go ahead with the inspection (at the full agreed price) and I disclaim everything that cannot be checked (furnace, AC, plumbing, all electrical service and appliances, etc). Whereas I can still give a report on the entire foundation, exterior, grading/grounds, decking, crawlspace, basement, structure, roof, attic, etc key areas of concern cannot be reported on. I can then come back and inspect those areas not previously inspectable for an additional fee of $125.
Obviously you get the best value by having the house fully ready to be inspected when I come out. This probably means you need to have your agent (or yourself) visit the property and physically verify that all utilities are indeed on. Turn on a faucet, a light, and a gas appliance. Don't rely on someone's word that the utilities are on--actually verify it. I cannot tell you how many times they "are supposed to be on" and aren't when I get there!
Also, per the industry Standards of Practice (see the red highlighted items) I am not supposed to light any pilots or turn on valves in an attempt to get something to work. To do so leaves me vulnerable to liability for water damage or gas leaks or electrical issues or other unknown and potentially dangerous situations that don't manifest themselves with the systems off. I cannot be the "de-winterizer" or get the house up to operating speed.
==>I recently witnessed why I should not turn on any water valves myself: Water Main was turned on at the street by the Water Authority. The buyer/client went inside and turned on the House Main. I arrived 5 minutes later, and fortunately decided to have a look-see in the basement before I started on the outside. Water was flooding the basement from an open water heater TPR valve as well as pouring down the HVAC return duct from a burst pipe in the second floor bath. Apparently the house was vacant longer than anyone knew, and a pipe froze and broke the last winter as a result of a poor winterizing job. Sure glad I didn't turn the water on myself!
So, when having the utilities turned on also be sure that:
- Power must be ON for 12 hours prior to operating the AC/Heat Pump (Disconnect switch ON and wall thermostat OFF).
- All circuit breakers are ON.
- All water valves are OPEN (NOT just the street valve but the house main, under sinks, toilets, any appliances, and outdoor spigots as well).
- All gas valves are OPEN and PILOTS LIT (old style furnaces, water heaters, appliances, gas logs).
Often a bank holding a foreclosed property has a property management company handle the house (or the Listing Agent) and they winterize the place as well as de-winterize. When they do, they should bring it up to FULL functionality.