The Value of Planning


  • My inspection this morning was a Christmas present. A couple was in the process of deciding if they should sell their existing home or remodel it. So the one partner purchased an inspection from me and presented my inspection service as a Christmas present (no, I didn't have to work during the holidays).

    As per usual I started my inspection with a conversation with my clients, I told them about my routine and asked them to tell me about their plans and concerns.

    My clients had a number of concerns and ideas and I also found a few related issues:

    • My clients wanted to convert part of the basement into a separate living unit.
    • They wanted to convert part of the 2nd floor or create a 3rd floor and create a master suite.
    • They were aware that their furnace was old.
    • My general findings were that this was a fine old home that that many of the systems and features were in relatively good condition.
    • I found that the gas furnace used an old, unlined masonry chimney (an unsafe conditions).
    • They were aware that their fireplace had some problems.
    • I found some electrical wiring issues.
    • I also found that some of the heating ducts were old, poorly configured and were wrapped with asbestos.
    • My overall conclusion was that the condition of the home and my clients' plans were doable and that the cost of the entire project was likely to be much less than a new construction.
  • That's an old song but the idea is well worth thinking about. Here are a few examples:

    1. The Electrical issues (these are always #1) - Everything else can wait but sub-standard wiring is unsafe and I like to keep my clients safe! So I want to have the defects in this system corrected/repaired and as long at that is being done I want the licensed electrical contractor to plan for future needs. For example: if the basement bathroom is going to be in the room with the existing electrical panel then the panel will have to be moved to a different part of the home. And if the area that contains the existing chimney is going to be finished in order complete the unit in the basement then this would be an ideal time to run some electrical conduits or wires to the area of the new master suite. (Conduit is cheap, undoing finished walls costs $$$.)
    2. Lining the existing masonry chimney will cost several thousand dollars. For about the same cost, it should be possible to install a new high efficiency furnace that vents to the side of the house and also install a similarly vented water heater.
    3. The reason that the fireplace never did work well had to do with the fact that it was designed to use c