Q: In as much as there are a great number of current issues regarding disclosure to the purchaser of real property, when, if ever, is it going to be the responsibility of the purchaser to investigate particular items of relevance to them? –George D.
A: Great question! In today’s day and age of people expecting "someone" to look after them and protect them from anything and everything, and with each succeeding generation seeming to develop more of that attitude than the previous one, it’s unlikely that you are going to see the burden of responsibility shifting back onto home buyers anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong. I have always been an advocate of people looking after themselves, especially with a purchase as huge as a home. I am all in favor of disclosure laws, since only the seller knows where the leaks or other problems are (or were), but buyers also need to take the time to inspect and understand the house for themselves. There’s a lot more to home than whether or not is has granite countertops!
The current trend is to entrust the responsibility of inspecting a house to a home inspector. That’s fine, because a home is a big and complex structure and you can’t expect every buyer to have the necessary expertise to do their own inspections. However, I have seen good inspectors that really understand homes and know what does and doesn’t constitute a genuine problem that a buyer should be concerned about, and I have also seen bad inspectors that rely on checklists and limited knowledge and handing out a bunch of printed information they downloaded from the Internet, as though an inspection report that’s loaded with unimportant paper makes up for one that really delves into the inner workings of the home.
Hiring a home inspector is fine, and I fully encourage it. But remember that if the seller is paying the fee, they’re probably going to go for the lowest bidder. So buyers should hire their own inspector as well, and be prepared to put on their coveralls and follow the inspector around — on the roof, in the attic, under the house — everywhere their physical abilities will allow them to go. Ask questions. Then when you have the results of both inspections, compare the results closely and ask more questions.
I have noticed that people are more concerned with all the details of the purchase of a $20,000 car than they are with the purchase of a $500,000 home, and then when things go wrong they want to know whom to point the finger at.
So, home buyers everywhere, get involved with your purchase, learn about how it works, understand what’s broken and what it’s going to take to fix it — and then sleep a little better at night.
Q: I have never seen anywhere information on cleaning and putting a preservative on a deck that is over water. We have lived in our home on the lake for three years and would like to clean and preserve our deck but can find nothing that states that it can be used where a deck is over the water. With a few really hard rains our lower deck ends up underwater until the water recedes, and I know this can’t be good for the wood. Any suggestions? –Penny V.
A: I didn’t have a good answer for you, so I contacted the technical people at Wolman Wood Care Products, a company that makes a very good line of deck products. Their recommendation is as follows:
"The best product for this type of application is Wolman Copper Coat, as it is a water-based product so it is safe to apply over a dock, and also it is typically used for dock structures."
I have used Wolman products with great success in the past, so I would consider taking a look at their recommendation. You can get more information about this and other Wolman products on the Web at www.wolman.com.
Q: What is the proper way to clean up stains on Trex decking? –Bob F.
A: Typically, all that’s required for normal dirt is to first sweep the deck off, then clean it with hot water, soap, and a stiff nylon scrub brush or stiff push broom. For grease stains, use a household degreaser such as Formula 409, then soap and water.
Incidentally, there’s a great cleaning and stain removal chart on the Trex Web site, at www.trex.com.
Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at email@example.com.
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