The top commonly overlooked (and most costly to fix) items for new homeowners
May 31, 2017
In most states, there’s a mandatory home inspection upon the sale of a new home and depending on the type of sales transaction, this may not be required. So I would first highly suggest that the buyer seeks out their own inspection company to perform a full scope inspection. However, if this is not the case, I would suggest to identify the location of all of your mechanical systems: your plumbing, your HVAC system, your gas lines and your electrical panel. These are the main causes for accidental fires, burns or discomfort in homes.
HVAC: For your HVAC system, you want to be sure that all pilots are lit (if it’s not an electric pilot) because you may – in a new home –have your gas service turned on and if the gas line is open to the furnace, you will have an active gas leak from the pilot (if it’s not an automatic pilot). I would just confirm that your HVAC system is working properly and the pilot for your furnace and the pilot for your hot water heater are lit after having had your gas turned on in the new home.
ELECTRICAL: Secondly, I would confirm that there’s no obstructions in front of your electrical panel. A 4’ clearance is a good recommendation to have in front of your electrical panel and 24” on either side of your electrical panel is a good recommendation to have clear as well. In addition to that, you want to check that the circuits on your electrical panel aren’t overloaded. To do that in the least invasive way possible, one may pick up an infrared thermometer from your local hardware store for minimal cost and this will easily detect the temperature of each of those circuit breakers. If there’s any one circuit that spikes in temperature, then you may want to call a certified electrician to assess the existing condition.
WATER HEATER: I would confirm that your water heater is set at a proper temperature and it’s not set at a high temperature that will scold you. This is your first time using the home so if you turn the hot water on and everything’s on and it’s your first time using the shower or something it may be set at a very high temperature, so to check that is important.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER: Purchase a fire extinguisher and have one on each level of the house. It’s a simple thing you can do but you’ll be amazed how many people live in multi-level homes that don’t have this in place. It can truly make the difference between a tragedy and a simple repair.
If all of this seems too complicated, again, even if you’re not required to do so, I would recommend hiring a home inspector to help you with these things (or at least find a handy friend who knows how to check these things for you).
Tariq Abdullah, AIA
CEO of Tarchitects (architecture firm) and Elite Real Estate Inspectors
Tariq is a graduate of University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and currently practices architecture in Atlanta, Georgia.