Home Buying

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David Greene
IDS Center
Posts: 4760
Joined: December 4th, 2012, 11:41 am

Re: Home Buying

Postby David Greene » August 11th, 2016, 9:09 am

We have home service plus and I think it's useful. We get a yearly boiler tune-up and that alone is worth it for us. I think I put my refrigerator or something on there (I had to pick one appliance) but I've never used that part of the service.

It came in particularly handy the first year when the HSP guy found that my in-line water heater was spewing CO into the basement (!), which turned out to be because of a crappy homebrew job done by some previous owner. Said owner had vented the water heater at 90 degrees (not code) into the main chimney (not code) into a flue liner that was too small (not code) and didn't bother sealing the joint, it was literally a duct resting up against a hole in the flue liner (DEFINITELY not code!).

The home inspector should have caught the improper venting into the chimney. He missed a couple of other things too (hello fraying asbestos!) so I won't be recommending him to anyone I know.

HSP guy red-tagged the heater (in the middle of winter mind you) and I ended up having to get an emergency tank water heater replacement (still going strong) and had to completely replace the flue liner due to deterioration caused by the too-large load. Fortunately I was able to schedule that to occur during a rebuild of the chimney from the roof line so they didn't have to build a whole bunch of scaffolding. I saved a bunch of money since whoever rebuilt the chimney before I did did it wrong (of course!) and made it excessively tall, which would have required an unusual amount of scaffolding and cost.

Our family joke is that everything in the house that's original is in fantastic shape and everything that was remodeled is falling apart.

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5832
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Home Buying

Postby MNdible » August 11th, 2016, 9:21 am

The average monthly billing is a no-brainer. It's a completely free service that makes your monthly billing much more predictable, unless you're worried about losing that 0.5% interest on the $80 balance that they're holding for you.

I've gone with and without HSP. I'd say if you have newer boiler/appliances, I'd give it a pass. With older ones, it's probably worth it.

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1763
Joined: October 31st, 2014, 12:50 pm

Re: Home Buying

Postby amiller92 » August 11th, 2016, 11:13 am

FISHMANPET wrote: For all the garbage rhetoric about the government services being inefficient and the wonder of the free market, I've been amazed at how smooth and painless every interaction has been with City when it comes to trash and water.
Minneapolis solid waste service is great. Even if they leave you a nastygram when you do something wrong. Signing up is easy and all you really have to do is decide whether you want to do "organics recycling." We are and it's got me thinking about whether we can switch to a smaller trash bin. The normal "large" one is never full.

It's past the signing up stage, but having just explained this to my brother (after he made the same mistake as me): you need compostable yard waste bags. You can get paper ones at Home Depot, Menards, Costco, Ace or whatever. They're big and they actually work pretty well. (You will get one of the aforementioned nastygrams if you fill them too full of woodchip so they weigh more than 30 pounds. But they did take them.)

They even take bulk items, although not everything. We dug up some footing from an old fence, which I had to take to the South Transfer Station this week. Even that was pretty easy, you just have to call ahead for a voucher.

billhelm
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 167
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 10:59 am

Re: Home Buying

Postby billhelm » August 11th, 2016, 2:48 pm

MNdible wrote:The average monthly billing is a no-brainer. It's a completely free service that makes your monthly billing much more predictable, unless you're worried about losing that 0.5% interest on the $80 balance that they're holding for you.

I've gone with and without HSP. I'd say if you have newer boiler/appliances, I'd give it a pass. With older ones, it's probably worth it.
I find with average monthly billing, especially with two providers that it generally nets out... sometimes run a negative balance and sometimes a positive.

The only caveat with Xcel is they don't do as good of a job monitoring it and I've gotten stuck with a huge bill or credit at the end of 6/12 months a few times, somewhat defeating the purpose of average monthly billing. I still have it but have asked them to increase or decrease payment a few times if I notice things starting to go way out of whack and they've adjusted it every time.

twincitizen
Moderator
Posts: 6211
Joined: May 31st, 2012, 7:27 pm
Location: Standish-Ericsson

Re: Home Buying

Postby twincitizen » August 11th, 2016, 2:51 pm

I have relatively new furnace(2012, gas/forced-air), water heater(2010?), and AC (2016). Safe to skip the Home Service Plus?

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mister.shoes
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1287
Joined: November 26th, 2012, 10:22 am

Re: Home Buying

Postby mister.shoes » August 11th, 2016, 2:53 pm

I don't have it. Furnace (2009), AC (2011), and water heater (????). Haven't had any major problems yet, but I'm sure by saying that I've just guaranteed myself to have one.

Edit: I pay the $whatever every couple years to get furnace and AC checkups from the people I had install them. I haven't run the numbers to see if HSP would be more cost effective or not.
The problem with being an introvert online is that no one knows you're just hanging out and listening.

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5832
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Home Buying

Postby MNdible » August 11th, 2016, 2:59 pm

Think of it like insurance. How much are you paying per month, how likely are you to use it, and what's the potential worst hit that they'd cover? If you're in a position to cover that "worst hit" without the insurance, you probably shouldn't be buying that insurance.

But it's pretty cheap, and if it gives you a little peace of mind, maybe it's worth it.

Viktor Vaughn
US Bank Plaza
Posts: 607
Joined: July 10th, 2012, 6:37 pm

Re: Home Buying

Postby Viktor Vaughn » October 26th, 2016, 10:43 am

We're planning to buy a house (in Duluth) in the next several months. We're looking at ~100 year old traditionals and I feel like I need an education to make a good decision. Here's some of things I want to learn about:

- Different styles of old houses. I want to be able to tell the different styles to be able to tell what's original, what's missing, what has been remodeled, what can be reasonably restored.

- Advantages and disadvantages of old houses (energy efficiency, etc)

- Things to avoid, red flags, questions to ask inspector

- How to maintain the house once we own it

I'm having a surprisingly difficult time finding information about this. Are there online resources, books, or other sources you'd recommend to get me up to speed?

seanrichardryan
Capella Tower
Posts: 3940
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 9:33 pm
Location: Merriam Park, St. Paul
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Re: Home Buying

Postby seanrichardryan » October 26th, 2016, 12:01 pm

Well, that's a lot to unpack. Duluth definitely has some cool regional architecture. They run a gamut from victorians to moderne. Lost of teens-20s arts & crafts in the mid-market.

Most everything in 'old' Duluth is steam or hot water heating systems, often fed by heating oil (how very east coast). You'll want to make sure any heating oil system is up to code.

Energy efficiency has less to do with windows and more to do with building envelope, insulation levels, HVAC maintenance etc. Brick homes are a good choice in the climate.

Don't worry if there is no AC. If you're in Duluth on the city proper, it's only a few days you need it. Up on the hill things get warmer and stickier in the summer without the lake breeze.
Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

seanrichardryan
Capella Tower
Posts: 3940
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 9:33 pm
Location: Merriam Park, St. Paul
Contact:

Re: Home Buying

Postby seanrichardryan » October 26th, 2016, 12:05 pm

also, do you need a realtor? I know people.
Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

Viktor Vaughn
US Bank Plaza
Posts: 607
Joined: July 10th, 2012, 6:37 pm

Re: Home Buying

Postby Viktor Vaughn » October 27th, 2016, 8:28 am

Thanks Sean! I just started working with a realtor, but I'm thinking it might not be a good fit. For one, she thinks I'm a kinda weird because I want the option to bike and bus to work. I'd be interested to hear your suggestion on realtor either here or via PM.

I completely agree about air conditioning on the hillside. I never had it nor missed it when living in Duluth.

Anyone have preferred online resources to help me start to sort out these questions?


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