Osage homeowners-to-be will soon have a new resource available: Certified tribal home inspectors who will check out a prospective home for free.
On Oct. 6, Brandon Wallace and Hutch Didlake, both of whom work for the Osage Nation Housing Department, had hands-on training with Jack Werner, a 20-year home inspector from Oklahoma City who owns a company called A to Z Inspections.
The three men inspected a house in Fairfax that is owned by an Osage and about to be sold to an Osage.
They started outside, with the water meter, the key indicator of water leaks. At this house, the water meter was covered in a thick layer of dirt that Didlake knocked off with a shovel and his hands. Good news: The little red triangle that spins if there’s any sort of leak was stock still.
Home inspections cost anywhere from $400 to $1,500 or more depending on the size and complexity of a home. The Osage Nation has a program to help home buyers with up to $5,500 for a down payment, but the Nation does require a home inspection before it will help out. By having two licensed inspectors working for the Nation, home buyers can save a few bucks.
“Four hundred dollars doesn’t sound like a lot of a $100,000 house, but a lot of people have trouble coming up with it,” Wallace said.
“Anytime you buy a house you should have it inspected. It will protect Osage tribal members because they need to have all of the facts before they invest a lot of money in a house.”
The inspection in Fairfax was thorough. The men climbed onto the roof and found that while it appeared to be less than five years old, a tree branch had been raking one area toward the street, thinning out the asphalt shingles in that area.
On the good-news front, the roof was well-ventilated, which reminded Werner of a mistake he made years ago when he put a new roof on a rental house he owned. He didn’t check on the roofer’s work, and the ventilation was quite inadequate.
“They put on that new roof and three years later it looked like a 50-year-old roof,” he said. “Ventilation is absolutely critical. You need to keep the heat down.”
They also found rain gutter issues, which Werner described as not only the most common problem he runs across, but one of the most serious: Left untended, downspouts dumping water at the juncture of the house and the ground lead to rotting foundations and siding.
“Gutters aren’t maintained at least 50 percent of the time,” Werner said. “They need to be fixed quickly or you’re going to have foundation problems.
“Water: That’s what built the Grand Canyon.”
This house had a mix of stone, brick and masonry siding. Werner wasn’t concerned about cracks in the stone – that’s common – but he came across some in the brick that persuaded him to recommend calling in a structural engineer for a more in-depth look.
Werner also noted two other common problems that turn up in home inspections: Windows are caulked on the outside, but not on the inside; and doors don’t properly seal.
“Come, here,” he beckoned, pointing to the bottom corner of the door opposite the hinges, where light was shining through. “You see this even in million-dollar houses. That’s just an energy drain.”
The inspection also involved checking out appliances, plumbing, and all other items. When it came to the gas stove, Werner warned Wallace and Didlake to always open the oven door and inspect the interior before turning the broiler or oven on.
He confessed that he learned that lesson the hard way. He used to just glance through the glass before firing up the oven, but one time there was an empty pizza box crammed into the back of the oven that he’d missed. The house got pretty smoky.
The Osage home inspectors aren’t quite ready for primetime yet. Wallace and Didlake have to complete a 90-hour course and that should take about 60-90 days. Wallace said he hoped to be able to offer the free service in early 2023.