Who Knows What Evil Lurks Behind Those Walls

Dated: September 16 2020

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In a world of inexperienced first-time real estate investors becoming do-it-yourself contractor-flippers combined with recent relaxed requirement for certain building permits and inspections have created somewhat of a perfect witches brew  to which a chorus of home inspectors  might chant, “double, double, toil and trouble…!” William Shakespeare

The State of New Jersey and municipalities loosened requirement for permits and certain inspections. This began as early as 2009, stated retired NJ building inspector William Pfeiffer, "as an attempt so as not to hold up certain projects that were delayed by time it would take to obtain a permit".

 It is important to note, in the past couple of years roofing and siding permits and the need for inspections have been drastically reduced or eliminated. One contractor stated that back in the day if you were working on a project and there was not a yellow placard in the window work would be stopped. The unintended consequence is that more people are doing work that isn’t inspected.

When asked what some tell-tale signs are to look out for, they responded:

  • Lack of pride of ownership

  • Lack of sharing information

  • Lack of obtaining proper permits

Jim Gecz, home inspector emeritus says, in his experience with flippers is they only care about their bottom line….they play the game of catch me if you can!  When asked how someone can protect themselves when buying a flipped home, the inspectors shared following advice.

  • File an OPRA Request with the municipality for records detailing permits and inspections

  • Require a seller’s disclosure be completed in detail and be cautious of minimal responses

  • Make sure you do a tank sweep of the property

  • Have an inspector examine the property

  • Bring in qualified licensed contractors or engineers to examine your concerns

In my next blog we will explore problems behind the walls.

In the meantime if you have any questions or  comments we would love to see them.  Remember – Caveat Emptor!

Edwin Kalinka, Ed.D.



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