Archive for the ‘Palm Beach Commercial Inspections’ Category

Challenging Buyer? How To Manage Buyer’s Repair Request When Selling Your South Florida Property

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

One of the most anticipated moments for any residential or commercial South Florida real estate seller is the inspection process.  This is when a professional inspector looks over most every aspect of your property’s appearance and condition, such as plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, roofing issues, termite infestation to even your kitchen appliances.

The vast majority of all South Florida homebuyers will pay to have an inspection, whether the property is new construction or several years old.  Depending on the size of the home or commercial property, the appointment can take several hours.  A detailed report is provided to the buyer and his or her agent a few days later, in which they will carefully go over the inspection findings.

In the meantime, you, the seller, are probably sitting on pins and needles waiting to discover what repairs the buyer will want, and how much it’s going to cost you. 

Important tip: Before you submit your signature on any offer or paperwork, understand completely what the contract states.  Like everywhere else, South Florida real estate contracts are negotiable.  When an offer comes through, read it backwards and forwards, especially on the subject of repairs.  Most contracts state the following:

 “Purchase is contingent upon home inspection.”

In other words, if you and the buyer cannot agree on what repairs to make, the buyer can be released from the purchase agreement, and walk away and the deposit returned.  Of course, contracts can vary.  These can include an “as is” or “information only,” for your South Florida property.  This releases you from the obligation of being required to make any repairs, however you can still elect to make repairs or renegotiate the purchase price if both parties agree. 

Don’t assume your contract states any of the above.  Read before you sign, ask questions, and consult your real estate attorney.

Here are guidelines on what you may encounter once the inspection report is submitted to your South Florida real estate agent.

1.  Expect A Repair List:

It is rare when a buyer’s agent reports to the seller’s agent that “All is well! The property is perfect and no repairs are necessary!”  Even a newly built home will usually have some issues that must be corrected before the sale can proceed.  Chances are, your home is no different.  While some of the repairs may seem petty, or completely over the top, be prepared for the unexpected.

2.  Don’t Panic!  Keep Your Emotions In Check!

When selling your South Florida home, keep in mind that no property is perfect despite what you may believe or what your real estate agent has said.  It’s important to separate yourself from the emotional ties you have to the residence, as it takes stress off of you and makes it easier to negotiate.  While you may think the antique light fixtures add character, the inspector may have discovered faulty or out-of-date wiring. 

Consult your real estate contract for information on what repairs may be required. Most real estate contracts do not require the seller to repair cosmetic conditions, unless the cosmetic condition resulted from a defect in a warranted item. So if your buyer is requesting you to remove and replace the existing carpeting, this is not typically covered in the seller’s contractual obligations. However, although you may not be required to do so, you may decide to negotiate with your buyer.

3.  Which Brings Us To:  Negotiating

Of course, most sellers and buyers are reasonable, and are anxious to make allowances for the sale to go through.  Chances are, you already know that you have some repairs that will be responsible for, and the buyer usually knows when they won’t get an expensive, though not “reasonable” repair on a questionable item.  While you may not want to make any repairs, or find it unnecessary, don’t be too stubborn because these issues will continue to come up with future buyers as it is the duty of the sellers to disclose all known defects from this point on.

  • Split the difference:  This can vary, but usually agents get together and hammer out a solution where both parties share the cost of a repair. 
  • Issue credit:  A buyer will often hire a contractor to give a quote for a needed repair.  Once this value is determined, and the sellers agree, this amount can be credited to the buyers at closing.  This figure can also be split or divided in any way between both parties. This is usually the most satisfactory for both parties as the buyer can hire the contractor they want while ensuring the work is done satisfactorily.
  •  Just say no:  Naturally, if the buyer refuses to budge, insists on costly repairs that even makes both agents cringe, consult with your real estate agent or attorney and see if it’s best to walk away.

4.  One Last Piece Of Advice For Your South Florida Property

Before putting your home or commercial building on the market, get a professional inspection first.  Yes, you will pay for it (normally buyers pay, but chances are they will still get one as well through their own inspector), yet this will determine if there are any significant repairs that need your attention.  You may then fix what is necessary, show receipts to prospective buyers, and let them know you have made repairs, or you are willing to negotiate if you find you are not financially or logistically able to make them. You also have the option to make the sale “as is” or negotiate the price in accordance with the known necessary repairs.

 

Buying A Renovated Home Or Commercial Property? Check Building Permits!

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

It’s a scenario that happens all too often for professional residential and building inspectors: buyers discover building permits were not issued on their home when the sellers did remodeling. For the new owner, this can be a serious financial and safety issue if they did not confirm that a permit was granted for any remodeling or home improvements on the property.

Before escrow closes, buyers must ensure building permits were pulled and finalized, especially if an inspector discovers any work that is not to code. While a seller must disclose this information, often times, work was done before they owned the building in question. As a prudent buyer, it is necessary to wait and close the deal until this issue is resolved.

When a building permit is required and when it isn’t can be confusing to most anyone attempting to make home improvements or repairs. For example, permits are mandatory for most construction work, yet for various home repairs it may not be necessary. Permits in Florida are needed for the following:

  • Additions, including patio covers, swimming pools, room additions
  • Alterations, including garage conversions, exterior stucco, re-roofs
  • Repairs – including replacement of water heaters, other plumbing fixtures, irrigations systems, air conditioning units, electrical service, rewiring.
  • Heating equipment, including installing wood stoves, central heat, wall heaters and wood or gas burning fireplaces.

Keep in mind, this is not an all-inclusive list for South Florida residents, but rather its intent is to make you ask questions when touring prospective homes and/or commercial properties if you suspect work was done after the original construction. To anyone considering a property that may have had improvements, you need to ask the seller:

1. Was there any construction done to the property after originally constructed?

2. Was a permit required?

3. Was a permit received?

New buyers should be aware, that issues regarding a lack of a permit would not go away when the property is sold. In fact, that problem is transferred to the new owner who will be held liable and required to pay any penalties and liens on the property, if necessary. And it doesn’t end there. As the new property owner, you will be required to correct the problem in order to comply with the rules and regulations for your local building department should the issue be discovered.

If you suspect that construction was done yet unsure if a permit was issued after the property is sold, contact your local building department to determine if the work in question actually required a permit. Again, not every improvement or remodeling project requires approval. However, if you find a permit was needed, and the permit was not included in your paperwork from the seller, you may very well search online or contact them directly. Also, keep in mind Florida does have uniform building codes, yet every municipality can exempt particular projects from permits. Rules vary from city to city.

Construction not built to code is something Florida building inspectors encounter every day on the job. The three top reasons owners don’t get a permit:

  • Many property owners, particularly homeowners, use friends or non-licensed contractors to perform work.
  • Property owners are unaware that permits are needed for what seems like a simple job, or they can’t afford to make additional repairs or upgrades that the planning department will require.
  • Property owners do not want to pay additional property taxes based on the increased value of their property.

What happens in Florida if you try and obtain a permit after the work is completed? Permits could double in price from the original cost. If you ignore, and are caught, you could be fined among other penalties.

Overall, it is the buyer who has the responsibility to check to see if permits have been issued. A home inspection by a qualified professional can also reveal that certain work was not performed in compliance with local building codes. Your agent should ask the seller about any permits, however, if they were not the owners when the work was done, then they may be unaware of any problems. Therefore it is up to the buyer to do the legwork and delay escrow until the matter is resolved.

This is just another reason why buyers should never turn down a professional home inspection when considering residential or commercial property. The undiscovered issues that can arise, such as lack of building permits, may not only be a financial disaster, but a safety liability as well.

Friday, February 7th, 2014

How To Hire A Building Contractor For Your South Florida Commercial Or Residential Property

If you are considering building or remodeling your South Florida commercial or residential property, you will start your project on the right foot by taking your time to find the best contractor suited for the job.  With countless of contractors in our area, this could be an overwhelming task for those property owners new to the industry.

When hiring a contractor, it is important to diligently research while relying on strong recommendations from family, friends and business associates.  Interview the top three professionals and don’t be shy in asking lots of questions.  Remember, no question is too obvious or impractical when seeking out a contractor who is trustworthy, ethical and has ample experience.

Here are some of the more important questions to ask when interviewing possible candidates:

 

1.  How long have you been a contractor?  What is your background?

If possible, hire a local contractor, as it is much easier to gather information on their credentials and reputation if they work within your community.  Not only that, you want someone who will visit your project frequently and be able to address any problem quickly and efficiently.  Always select a builder that has a close relationship with other local subcontractors and don’t hesitate to request references and follow through with contacting previous clients for their thoughts and opinions.  Don’t neglect to check their background and contact the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed. You can also verify their license by visiting: www.myfloridalicense.com

 

2.  Who are your suppliers?

Are you considering a contractor that changes suppliers frequently or one that has used the same businesses over and over?  There could be a reason why a contractor moves from one company to another, so be sure and contact suppliers and ask for their opinion regarding your contractor.

  •  Does he or she pay their bills on time?
  •  Have any clients filed complaints?
  •  Is work on time or constant delays?

If at any time a contractor is reluctant to give you any information on their subcontractors, then it’s time to continue your search.

 

3.  Who will be in charge of the job?  How often will you visit?

It’s necessary to find out if a job foreman will be handling the day-to-day operations or if the contractor will be the daily contact.  If it is the former, then this calls for a little research as well.  Visit the current job where the foreman is working and look over the project and see how well it is moving along.  Ask the current client if workers arrive on time each day and if there are many delays.  Also inquire if the project is staying on budget and if they are tidy and clean up at the end of each day.  Finally, ask the client if they are satisfied with the communication and if they are being kept apprised when a problem arises.

 

4.  What is the scope of the work being performed?

Do not use a contractor based on a verbal agreement. Make sure you have your agreement and scope of work in writing and read it carefully. The written contract should be as detailed as possible, including exactly what the contractor is going to be doing and how it’s going to be done. If there is something in the contract you don’t agree with, ask for it to be removed or find a new contractor.

 

5.  How will invoices and bills be handled?

Whether your project is big or small, getting a detailed bill in a timely manner that is not full of surprises should always be the rule and not the exception. With an itemized bill, it is easier to determine where you can cut costs in other areas should an unexpected repair come up and threaten your budget.  No professional contractor will ever balk at this and it should be a standard procedure.

Also, determine when a contractor is paid and that this information is well documented in the contract.  Never hire a contractor that demands full payment up front.

Finally, stay clear of any contractor uses intimidation or bully tactics in order to secure your business.  Other big warning signs:

  • Insists their verbal word is good enough
  • Prefers under the table deals
  • No identification or proof of current license or insurance

Without the proper documentation, you have no guarantee, paper trail or receipt of the work you have had done and little to no recourse.

 

6.  Are permits required?

Permits are very important and are often overlooked or ignored. Some contractors may even tell people they don’t need permits for work that requires one. You should call your local municipality building/permitting department and as if the work they are doing requires a permit. A building official will inspect the work to ensure it is completed safely and properly.

 

 

Major Roof Leak?– Or Something Less Serious?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

You’re a real estate professional and a new couple has contacted you regarding one of your listings. These prospective buyers are absolutely in love with this house. So you set up an appointment and take them in, showing them all the wonderful features of the house. It almost seems like this house was built for this couple. It’s absolutely perfect. As the couple looks around for a bit, the wife lmiami roof inspectionooks up and notices some paint peeling on the bedroom ceiling near the air conditioning vent. The husband reaches up and touches the peeling paint and it’s wet. There was a rainstorm last night so the husband immediately believes it’s a roof leak. The couple informs you that they don’t have money for a new roof, and they would rather just keep looking then to waste time and money on continuing with this house.
I’m sure many real estate agents have seen similar situations to this more than once. But a bit of knowledge could mean the difference between this couple walking away immediately, or at least waiting until Miami home inspectors can fully evaluate the situation.
Finding moisture around air conditioning vents is extremely common in South Florida, especially in older homes. While the cause of the moisture could be anything from a roof leak, plumbing leak, or some other deficiency; it is more commonly caused by condensation of the vent or the ceiling box (also known as the boot, or ductwork boot).
commercial building inspectionCondensation occurs on a surface that is below the dew point of the air. The temperature of the cold air in the ductwork could range from 50 to 65 degrees (depending on many different factors). During our summer months the temperatures can reach upwards of 100+ degrees which dramatically raises the dew point of the air. The temperature is even higher in your attic which raises the dew point of the air even more. When the cold metal on the ceiling box or the vent register gets below that dew point, condensation will occur.

Repairing this is often very easy. All that needs to be done is to prevent the hot air of the attic fromroof inspection touching the cold metal surfaces of the ceiling box or vent register. There is a wide variety of insulation or ductwork sealants that can be used for this. The problem is usually an inadequate seal between the ceiling box and the vent register due to improperly cut drywall. Hiring a contractor for this repair could cost anywhere from $75 to $150 per location. This is a huge difference from a roof repair that could cost $500 or worse, a roof replacement which could cost tens of thousands of dollars! If you need someone to check out your roof, use our Miami roof inspection services.

Dangerous Fire Hazard in a 100,000 S.F. Class “A” Building

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

I was at a commercial inspection the other day in Boca Raton and I found something very interesting. Frightening, but interesting. The property was consisted of a class A office building that was just over 100,000 square feet. The building was originally constructed in 1985 but was completely renovated in 2007. The electrical system for the entire 100,000 square foot building was fed through one main service meter. When I was performing my commercial inspection on the service meter, it looked like there was an explosion in the meter can. One of the reasons this is such a big deal is because, without getting to technical, it takes some serious electrical components to power 100,000 square feet of office and it is all feeding right through three wires inside this box.

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Luckily, the buyer of the property hired a building inspector in Palm Beach because the owners and the property manager had no idea about this problem.