Why Bother With A Home Inspection?

 

Small house: Louisville, KY

Buyers should invest in a whole house inspection, for the same reasons you would take a used car for a test drive and have it carefully examined by a trusted mechanic before buying it. The purchase of a home will be the largest investment you will ever make, so why not have a professional, licensed inspector check it out?

New homes should also be inspected, since the builder depends upon subcontractors, who oftentimes work independently. Some subcontractors are better than others and mistakes do happen and/or corners may be cut. Why take a chance, when the cost is so minimal compared to the price of the home!

COST: The cost of a home inspection will vary depending upon the size of the home, whether it has a basement and garage, and/or multiple heating/cooling systems. However, they usually range from $200 for a small condo to about $500. If the home is more than 4000 sq ft, has multiple HVAC systems and other complications, the cost will exceed $500. Feel free to shop around to seek the best price, but beware of apparent lowball bids, as you usually get what you pay for. 

SCOPE: The inspector’s challenge is to examine and, when appropriate, test each of the home’s primary systems. Each system must be functional, safe and be structurally sound. If certain systems aren’t present (e.g., roof vents, chimney cap, etc.), the inspector will note that as well. Here are two links to home inspector associations.

http://www.nachi.org/sop.htm

http://www.homeinspector.org/

Exterior of each structure (e.g., house, garage, etc.):

1. Roof, gutters, downspouts & drainage;

2. Chimney & vents;

3. Soffits & fascia boards;

4. Windows & trim;

4. Exterior brick, vinyl, aluminum, wood, stucco, etc;

5. Decks, porches, carports, handrails;

6. Driveway.

7. Vegetation.

Interior of each structure: (The focus will be on functionality & safety)

1. Plumbing & water pressure;

2. Furnace;

3. A/C;

4. Electrical: outlets, breaker box, exposed wires, etc.

5. Attic: Roof structure, insulation, ventilation;

6. Flooring;

7. Kitchen: appliances, sink & ventilation;

8. Bathrooms: commode, sink, shower, tub, ventilation, etc.

9. Basement: water shutoff valve, dampness, walls, subflooring, sump pump, etc.

10. Walls, ceilings and flooring throughout.

11. Doors, windows, etc…

 The Inspection Report & the Buyer’s Responsibilities

Since the inspector will point out any issues to you during the inspection, it’s important for you to be present. Otherwise, you will be dependent upon the inspector’s written report, which will include photos of any problem areas. I strongly suggest you plan on making time to be present during the inspection. You can learn much and ask any questions that may arise as he’s conducting the inspection. Why not learn about your new home from an expert!

Once the inspection is completed, you will then determine which issues you want the seller to repair or replace. Although the buyer can ask the seller to address all of the issues found during the inspection, the repair list typically is comprised of only items involving safety or non-functionality. Examples of safety issues might include gas leaks, improperly vented water heaters, missing smoke detectors, electrical issues, missing handrails, and windows that don’t open. Examples of functional issues might include broken windowpanes, damaged air conditioning units or furnaces, broken locks, and leaky faucets, roofs and/or basements.

Other Recommended Inspections

Termites & Other Critters

A termite inspection is a must, even if your lender doesn’t require it. The house and any other structures (i.e., garage) must be inspected. The cost is usually around $45. Termites can wreak havoc with any structure’s foundation and not spending a small amount for an inspection is simply foolish.

 Radon Gas

If a home is located in a part of the country where radon is an issue and the home has a basement, the buyer should pay for a radon test, which will add another $100-$300 to the bill. Radon gas will accumulate in basements and is a carcinogen. According to the EPA, your radon test results may be reported in either picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or working levels (WL). If your test result is in pCi/L, EPA recommends you fix your home if the radon level is 4 pCi/L or higher. If the test result is in WL, EPA recommends you fix the home if the working level is 0.016 WL or higher. If the test proves the presence of an unsafe level of radon gas, the buyer should ask the seller to mitigate the radon. This repair can cost anywhere from $500 to $1500 or more.

http://www.epa.gov/radon/

Conclusion

Inspections are an important aspect of the home buying process. Be sure and spend the extra money associated with such inspections, before you close on any property. Please feel free to add any comments concerning your experiences with home inspections. The more we share with others the more knowledgeable everyone will be. Don’t let others repeat your mistakes.