Unlike a home appraisal, which only provides a market value for the property, a home inspection offers a detailed analysis of the home’s condition. These inspections, when performed by professional contractors, should include an analysis of the home’s major mechanical systems such as furnace and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical components, as well as an overall analysis of the roof.
A home inspection will alert the buyer to any safety concerns or potential threats with the property such as the potential for mold, lead-based paint, and asbestos. A qualified home inspector will be able to suggest actions for remediation in these instances.
A Home Inspector from Tennesse posted this photo of one of his inspections. The photo shows a very "shady" job done by the home sellers after they were asked to do some repair work for the new buyers. Most of the work was not done as promised in the repair bill and instead of replacing the outlets on the exterior with GFCI outlets like they were under contract to do, they printed pictures of them and taped them into the covers.
What Will Be Inspected
You may need several types of inspections. The most common is the professional home inspection, followed by a termite or pest inspection. If the seller’s disclosure revealed an abandoned septic tank or other potential hazards, you’ll want a specialized inspection of that as well. And be sure the inspector tests for radon.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium
in soil, rock, and water. You can breathe or ingest it into your body, and according to the Surgeon General, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon occurs all over the U.S.; it is present in every house. The question is whether the amount of radon present exceeds safe limits. The EPA says the only way to find out is to test for it.
Other Basic Tests
At a minimum, a competent professional home inspector will look at the following:
- Foundation: Is it structurally sound? Are there cracks or other evidence of shifting or moisture problems?
- General construction: What is the quality of the home’s overall construction?
- Exterior: Does the house need exterior repairs or maintenance?
- Plumbing: What is the condition of the overall plumbing system? Are there signs of leaks or water pressure problems?
- Electrical: Do any dangerous electrical situations or apparent code violations exist?
- Heating and cooling systems: How old are the systems? Have they been properly maintained and are they adequate for the size of the house?
- Interior: Are floors firm and level or squeaky and slanted? Do doors and windows open and close properly? Are locks in working order?
- Kitchen: Do appliances function properly? Is the plumbing, including the dishwasher connection, in good repair (no leaks around faucets or under the sink)?
- Baths: Is there any evidence of previous or current water leaks? Is the floor solid? Is the plumbing in good repair (no badly chipped enamel, for example)?
- Attached structures: What is the condition of any attached structure, such as decks, garages, and sheds?
- Roof: When was the roof last replaced? What is its condition and its estimated remaining life? What is the condition of the roofing structure as well as the shingles?
Look Now or Lose Later
The home inspection is the time to address all concerns and requests for repairs. If the seller agrees to repair or replace certain defects, you’re entitled to have those completed. However, if on the final walk-through before closing you notice something else, you’re out of luck unless it’s related to the appliances, heating and cooling equipment, or the electrical and plumbing systems, all of which must be conveyed in working order.
So during the home inspection be sure to pull up those area rugs and look at the floor underneath. Look behind the paintings on the wall. If a wood floor or wall is badly discolored, this is not something you want to discover on the morning of your scheduled close.
Don’t Be Penny-Wise and Pound Foolish
During an inspection of a house that otherwise looked in excellent shape, one home inspector found a crack in the heat exchanger in the central heating system. The cost of replacing the heat exchanger was no more than $500, which was money well spent. In the long run, the cost could have been much heavier: for one thing, the cracked heat exchanger could have cost the home buyers hundreds of dollars in utility bills. The more serious threat, of course, would have been carbon monoxide leaking into the house through the air ducts.
We have trusted home inspectors that we have worked with for several years. If you are in need of a home inspection or have questions, please give us a call and we'll get you in touch with our inspectors.