Tips for Buying Renovated Homes

When it comes to buying a home that has been renovated, get it checked out first.

More than a dozen residents are part of a lawsuit filed Thursday in D.C. Superior Court, D.C.’s attorney general said.

The attorney general advises not signing a sales contract unless it states that the sale is contingent on a completed inspection. For a list of DCRA-certified third party inspectors, visit the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ website.

Also, check with DCRA to make sure all renovations were performed with permits and by licensed professionals.

The attorney general offered the following advice when buying a recently renovated home:

Work with a reputable and knowledgeable broker who best represents your interests.

Questions to ask:

  • Was the house/condo recently renovated? If so, was it done according to city codes?
  • Did the seller and contractors obtain the proper permits? If so, do the permits cover the actual work done?
  • Was the home inspected? If so, did it pass?
  • Does anything seem off? Compare the property with the permit records. Still not sure? Contact DCRA at 202-442-4400.

Have the home inspected by a licensed home inspector:

  • Home inspections are one of the most important aspects of the home-buying process, and a thorough inspection may occasionally reveal problems that are severe enough to seriously concern a future owner.
  • The District’s housing market is full of houses and condos that have been recently renovated by developers. The quality of these renovations varies greatly.
  • The biggest potential pitfall when buying a renovated home is whether the developer has covered up significant problems (e.g. mold, cracks in the foundation, a bad electrical system) with drywall or quick fixes. To that end, get your hands on the property report from DCRA’s website.
  • Detailed inspection reports can also be obtained via FOIA request in just 10-15 business days.

Though more expensive than a home inspector, also consider hiring an engineer to check the home for structural issues.

Ask the seller if:

  • All work was done by licensed contractors.
  • All work was done in compliance with the District’s Construction Codes and zoning laws.

If possible:

  • Talk to neighbors nearby about their experience with the renovation work on the home you’re considering buying.
  • Try to stay away from “as-is” contracts for homes.
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