Tips to closing a house and avoid extra expense

1.) Paint that stack!

There are several simple tips to avoid costly repairs when you try to close
on your house that many people overlook or just leave to the repair crews
based on what the inspectors say. If you’re one of those who can do a
little “do it yourself” work around your home, you might save quite a bit
in closing costs just by competing a few simple tasks that inspectors
almost always list as “needed to be done before close”. Please remember not
everyone will have the same issues, but most will have these common
problems. They are not in any order of importance.

The stack: (This applies to older homes, made before 1965-1970)

Older homes particularly need pay attention.. When you walk down into your
basement and see that rusty old Drain waste stack that looks like it’s
about to spring a leak due to big rusty spots all over it, remember, there
all kinds of codes and penalties to the stack, and if it is in fairly
decent looking shape, with no real possibility of becoming hazardous, you
can sometimes save yourself a ton of money by going down to your favorite
local hardware store and buying some decent black paint, and after sanding
or scraping the rust, just paint it a nice flat black.

Don’t get me wrong, inspectors know about this trick and if there are any
real problems you will have to deal with them, but that old stack will
always be on the list if it even *looks* rusty. So if there are no real
major problems with it, a nice coat of flat black paint will at least save
you around $500.00+ that the closing repairmen will charge for doing the
exact same thing.

For those you of you in newer homes, no worries; your drain waste stack is
usually going to be PVC, or ABS if made around 1970. It’s the older homes
I’m dealing with here, and the cast iron or galvanized steel stacks that
need this tip. So to you older home owners, I hope this helps a little bit
knowing the first tip, it could save you quite a bit of money.

2) Replace all face-plates in living room, kitchen, and baths.

When closing, an inspector goes into the house and he or she wants that
house looking as new as possible and to stand up to all codes and
specifications as are required, and many times there are some simple things
you can do before they come to avoid unnecessary expenses for you, the
seller, as well as bringing the value of the house itself up a slight notch
by doing some things yourself.

One such simple task is to replace all the face-plates to all outlet and
switches in your living room, kitchen, and bath areas, in particular, as
well as going room to room, looking for any broken face-plates in any of
the other rooms.

Seriously, when I used to be in the remodeling business I couldn’t believe
how much was charged to the seller for the simplest of jobs, and this was
money that could have been going directly into the seller’s pockets!
Changing the face-plates was one such job that was not only a snap, but
took no more than 15-20 minutes per room, and that was if the room was big.
So change any and all broken face-plates to the outlets and switches and
you’re on your way to saving yourself some money for a very easy job.

3) Change those switches and outlets:

The next (3rd) tip doesn’t need to be done by everyone. If you have a
relatively new home it goes without saying, but if the home is 15 years old
or older, maybe you might want to think about switching out all of your
light switches and outlets in the house.

Many people take these things for granted and just let others take care of
it, but if you want to make your place look nicer and be safer, especially
in bathrooms as new codes are being made daily (it seems) concerning
breakers and outlet switches with auto breakers near any water sources,
you’ll at least want to switch these if they don’t have automatic shutoff
breakers. You know, the kind that have “test” and reset”, those!

To install a new switch it’s best to turn off the breaker that goes to that
part of the house, although once more experienced you don’t really need to
as a 110 volt feels kind of like a hand buzzer and won’t do much harm
unless there’s something to lower resistance, (such as toaster in a
bathtub), but on its own a 110 shock isn’t much to worry about, although it
HIGHLY recommended to turn the breaker off while changing a switch just to
be safe!

Just unscrew the faceplate, unscrew the switch itself from the wall, and
pull the switch out, along with its wires. Then unscrew the wires going
into the switch, grab the new switch and reverse the process. It does not
matter which wire of a colored pair goes to which screw unless the outlet
is controlled by a switch. If so, then make sure the red or black (hot)
wire gets connected to the side that the shorter plug slot is on and
generally have gold colored screws. “Neutral” white wires should be
connected to the side that the taller plug slot is on and generally have
silver screws, and copper or green wire will connect to the green ground
screw should be attached to the mounting bracket - Then simply push it back
into the wall, screw the outlet back into the bracket frame from which you
previously unscrewed it, and finally, put the faceplate (as discussed
previously) back onto the wall. - Good as gold! Rinse and repeat for all
other outlets and switches. Particularly those close to water sources -
sinks in kitchens, and bath areas.

4) No backyard deck? Build One!

Home inspectors will be able to tell you the items you need to service when
trying to close a house. This will always include a roof with short life
expectancy, foundation problems or AC malfunctions. Although an inspector
can give you a close evaluation of the items in need of repair, they can’t
list the price of the repairs themselves, you’ll need to contact your own
contracting teams and makes bids on the lowest one that you feel will give
you the best quality of work, stand over them still!. The rest of the
smaller items you can do yourself and save a ton of money. Some of these
ideas won’t be required, but on a few of them you might actually want to
try to do yourself. One such possible job is building a deck!

Okay, we started with simple repairs and there are many left, but this one
occurred to me simply to raise the value of the house before even thinking
about closing: If you don’t have a deck, either build it yourself, or call
a contractor and make a small bid on even an 8 x 10 foot deck.

Trust me on this, a small, 1 thousand dollar, comfortable deck in the
backyard is worth about 5-12 THOUSAND dollars or more when you appraise the
house. This is one thing you can literally take to the bank. Ask your
appraiser and find out now, before you begin to close.

5) Clean Everything

If you've ever walked into a home buying situation and found dirty walls
and cobwebs in the basement and attic, you know why this is important to
consider. Many people think that the repair teams will do this
for you, most don’t, and the cleaner your home is, the less cobwebs in
every nook and cranny that will be looked into, and the dirtier the yard
is, the less chance you’ll have to actually close. Try cleaning everything
top to bottom, and repainting those walls.