Learn where to get the information on a home before you buy. Town records help you learn about the home's history and a home inspection can help you learn more about the home's potential.
LESLIE: Jeff in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JEFF: I’m looking to buy a home and I want to know if there’s some – if you can tell if the home has been remodeled or added onto. Because this home is very nice but it has new siding on it and it might be hiding where it’s been added onto.
TOM: There’s a couple of things that you can do, Jeff. First of all, before you buy a house you want to make sure you get a professional home inspection
because an inspector can discover a lot of that stuff for you. Sometimes there’s very subtle things that a pro can see that will give you some history. If you want to find a good home inspector, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors – it’s ASHI.org
– and put in your zip code and you can find a bunch of inspectors that way; then interview them and pick somebody that makes you comfortable.
LESLIE: And Jeff, it’s so important to find an inspector this way. Don’t go with somebody that the realtor recommends or that the homeowner who’s selling the house recommends because you want to be able to get a completely unbiased interpretation of that house.
TOM: Now, the next thing you can do is you can go down to town hall and you can ask for the building permit file on the home. This is a public record, so anyone can walk in and ask for it. And this way, you can investigate whether or not there were permits. Especially if it looks pretty clear like there was some recent work done, there ought to be a building permit that was secured before that work was done; there ought to have been inspections. So you can check all that by pulling the permits at town hall.