Buying a new can be overwhelming. Never mind all the houses that you need to visit to find the perfect one but once you have your sights on the one you want, it's important to gather some helpful information on the property for you to understand what you are buying. We are not real estate brokers or realtors, nor do we claim to be appraisal experts, investment consultants or your know it all uncle. Contrary to popular belief, engineers are human and we have the same emotions, feelings and thoughts that any other home buyer has. Except, a structural engineer will spend more time looking in the attic to explore the bones. We have compiled a list of questions and inquiries that we would do during the purchase of a new home:
1) Get a great realtor. There are many great realtors with tons of experience that understand specific neighborhoods that you want to live in.
2) Once you have found the property that you to want, try:
a. Look up the Permit Status for the property. Doing a permit search for a property will give great insight on whether a building recently had additions, new electrical installed, plumbing repairs or new air conditioners installed. It also give the name of the person that pulled the permit which is really helpful if the repairs come with warranties and the seller doesn’t recall who did the work. Visit:
City of San Antonio Development Services Permit Search
b. Look to see if there have been any property maintenance code violations cited by the city to the property. Most cities have a Code Enforcement division that visits properties to inspect the property for property maintenance issues. Code Enforcement may look for abandon vehicles, improper use of the land, damage to the building or answer calls for pest issues. The main issue here, property maintenance violations typically go with the property and not the property owner. So doing a quick check to confirm the property doesn’t have any violations that have not been corrected.
c. Get a thorough leak detection test. A license plumber should be contacted to complete a static leak detection test to let you know if any plumbing leaks may exist. This test is different than the test the home inspector completes. Failing to do a plumbing test can catch you by surprise if you discover a plumbing leak the day after you buy the house or sometime after that. At that point, the very expensive repairs are all yours.
d. Get a foundation elevation survey. A foundation elevation survey is a map of the house (not the entire property) with readings on the levelness of the house. Now, the actual numbers may not mean anything now, BUT in case you suspect foundation movement later or if you need to file a foundation damage claim with the warranty or insurance company, its super helpful to have the base line readings from the time that you moved to help prove your case that the foundation actually did move. We have been successful in the past at helping home owners with their insurance or warranty claims, but it benefits your claim when you have a base line of the floor levelness to compare to. Get the elevation reading before you move in with furniture. A-1 Engineering can help you get this survey completed. Call us for details.