Home Inspection and That Old Furnace

By: Brian Schutt  |  October 21, 2014

Be sure to check your home inspection and the old furnace. On that long list of items to check off for your new home, at 50% of utility costs and the most expensive appliance in your home, heating and cooling is not the item to take lightly.

We work with a number of great realtors around the Indianapolis area. So we’re always getting calls to help buyers and sellers work out the details related to heating and cooling equipment. Most of the time we just have to address small issues, but every so often the issues of age and condition require the system to be replaced.

In the context of the enormity of what moves can feel like, simply crossing items off your list can feel like an accomplishment and the right decision. As a result of the effort to just get through the seemingly endless laundry list of things associated with a move, a normally thoughtful person can make quick decisions that can lead to adverse consequences.

If you find yourself in the place where you’re about to move, staring that laundry list in the face, and see replacement of the heating and cooling system on that list, I must implore you to not just “cross it off” with quick decision making.

Here’s why. When you’ve made it this far down the path to your new home, both the buyer and the seller are ready to make the deal. You like the house, you’ve had an inspection, you’re already picturing where your couch and bed are going to go, in your mind the deal is done. The seller is ready to get out. They’ve lived there long enough and are likely picturing their own version of something newer and better for them.

When you bring up the home inspection and old furnace and air conditioner, they’re well aware of the issue. They’ve likely had to deal with this system for the last 10 years and know it’s on its last legs. They’re now regretting not just replacing it 5 years ago when they were told to do so, and now you’re telling them to do so. What do you think they will do? Do you think they will take a measured process to find a company that has people with integrity to do the work, clear processes to achieve a quality result using great products that are backed by extended warranties? I think you get where I’m going.

No. They’ll buy the cheapest thing that meets the minimum standards of what you are reasonably asking for in your agreement. After all, they’ll be out of there soon. You on the other hand will be living with this new system.

So, of all the things on that checklist, why is the HVAC system the one item to pause and be thoughtful about. When it comes down to it, money. If the job is done poorly with bad equipment and a company without a long term approach, you will pay with higher repair costs, higher operating costs, and issues through the life of the equipment.

There are simple ways to managing this issue, but both require a little extra time and thought. To the seller, you say: “We are pretty particular about our heating and cooling systems. We really want to be sure that the company that does the work will follow through for the lifetime of the furnace and air conditioner. Would it be possible for us to arrange to meet with a couple of companies that might do the work?” That way you can get ideas for what the home needs, what system enhancement options are recommended, and can make a decision with expert inputs.

Then, it’s just a matter of setting up the timing and who bears what costs. The reality is the inconvenience factor is probably more of an issue than the money toward the end of a negotiation. Most of the time the work can be done in the handful of days between when the buyer closes on the new home and when the move actually takes place. As the buyer, you’ll move in with the peace of mind knowing who did the work, have commitments about what the system should be expected to do, and having had a voice into the system in place.

Need any specific insight or ideas on your home inspection and that old furnace? Give us a call at 317-203-8149.


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