A home inspection is an evaluation of the observable and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, structure, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the customer (buyer, seller, or homeowner) a better comprehension of the home’s overall condition. Most often it’s a buyer who requests an inspection of the house he or she is serious about purchasing. A home inspection provides data so that decisions about the purchase can be verified or contested, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner may not be aware of. It’s not an appraisal of the property’s value; nor does it address the expense of repairs. It does not ensure that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails later on. [Note: Warranties can be purchased to cover many items.] A home inspection shouldn’t be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation, but instead an evaluation of the house on the day it’s inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear for the property’s age and location. A home inspection can also include, for additional fees, Radon gas testing, water testing, Cocoa Opossum Removal, energy audits, pest inspections, pool inspections, and several other specific items that may be indigenous to the region of the country in which the inspection occurs. Home inspections are also used (less frequently) by a seller before listing the property to see if there are any hidden issues that they are unaware of, and by homeowners simply wishing to care for their homes, prevent surprises, and keep the home investment value as large as possible.
The important results to pay attention to in a home inspection are:
1. Major flaws, such as large differential cracks in the base; structure from level or plumb; decks not installed or supported properly, etc.. These are items that are expensive to fix, which we classify as items requiring more than 2% of the purchase price to fix.
2. Things that could lead to major defects – a roof flashing leak that could get bigger, damaged downspouts that could cause backup and water intrusion, or a support beam which wasn’t tied into the structure properly.
For instance, your inspector will advise that you call a licensed building engineer should they find parts of the home that are out of alignment, as this could indicate a severe structural deficiency.
Home Inspections are only done by a buyer once they sign a contract, right?
This is not correct! As you will see when you read on, a home inspection can be used for interim inspections in new building, as a maintenance tool by a current homeowner, a proactive technique by vendors to make their house more sellable, and by buyers wanting to ascertain the state of the possible home.
Sellers, in particular, may benefit from getting a home inspection before listing the home. Here are just a few of the benefits for the seller:
· The seller knows the home! The home inspector will be able to receive answers to their own questions on the history of any problems they find.
· A home inspection will help the seller be more objective when it comes to setting a fair price on the home.
· The seller can choose the report and make it into a marketing piece for your home.
· The vendor will be alerted to any safety issues found in the house before they open it up for open house tours.
· The seller can make repairs leisurely instead being in a rush after the contract is signed.
Why should I get a home inspection?
Your new home has dozens of systems and over 10,000 parts – from heating and cooling to ventilation and appliances. When these appliances and systems work together, you experience comfort, energy savings, and endurance. Weak links in the system, though, can create assorted problems causing a reduction in value and shortened component life. Your home is a lot more complicated, and to have a comprehensive inspection that’s documented in a report arms you with significant information on which to make decisions.
Why can not I do the inspection myself?
Most anglers lack the knowledge, skill, and objectivity needed to inspect a home themselves. By utilizing the services of a professional home inspector, they gain a better understanding of the condition of the property; especially whether any items don’t “function as intended” or “adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling” or “warrant further investigation” by an expert. Remember that the home inspector is a generalist and is broadly trained in every home system.
Why can not I ask a family member who’s handy or who is a builder to inspect my new home?
Although your nephew or kid may be very proficient, he or she is not trained or experienced in professional home inspections and usually lacks the technical test equipment and knowledge required for an inspection. Home inspection training and experience represent a distinct, licensed profession that uses rigorous standards of training.
What does a home inspection cost?
This is often the first question asked but the answer tells the least about the quality of the inspection. Fees are based according to size, age and various other facets of the house. An average cost for a 2,000 square foot home nationally is about $350-$375. What you should pay attention to is not the fee, but the qualifications of your inspector. Are they nationally certified (passed the NHIE exam)? Are they state certified if required?
How long does the inspection take?
You can usually figure 1.2 hours for every 1,000 square feet. For example, a 2,500 square foot house would take about 3 hours. If the company also generates the report in your home, which will take an extra 30-50 minutes.
Do all homes require a home inspection?
Although not required by law in most states, we believe any purchaser not getting a house inspection is doing themselves a great disservice. They may find themselves with costly and unpleasant surprises after moving into the house and endure financial headaches that could easily have been avoided.
Should I be at the review?
It’s a excellent idea for you be present during the review – whether you’re buyer, seller, or homeowner. With you there, the inspector can show you any defects and explain their importance in addition to point out maintenance features which are helpful in the future. If you can’t be there, it isn’t a problem since the report you receive will be quite detailed. If you’re not present, then you need to make certain to ask your inspector to describe anything that is not apparent in the report. Also read the inspection agreement carefully so you understand what’s covered and what’s not covered in the review. If there’s a problem with the inspection or the report, you should raise the problems quickly by calling the inspector, usually within 24 hours. If you would like the inspector to return after the inspection to show you things, this can be arranged and is a fantastic idea, however, you’ll be paying for the inspector’s time on a walkthrough since this was not included in the original support.
Should the seller attend the home inspection that’s been ordered by the purchaser?
The vendor will be welcome in the inspection (it’s still their home) although they should see that the inspector is working for the buyer. The conversation which the inspector has the purchaser may be upsetting to the seller when the seller was unaware of these items being pointed out, or the seller may be overly emotional about any defects. This is a reason why the vendor may want to consider getting their own inspection before listing the house.
Can a house fail a home inspection?
No. It’s not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, cannot pass or fail a house. The inspector will objectively describe the home’s physical condition and indicate which items are in need of replacement or repair.
What’s included in the inspection?
The following list is not exhaustive. Not all of these may be in the review you get, but the inspector will be following a standardized checklist for your home:
· Site drainage and grading
· Entry Steps, handrails
· Landscape (as it pertains to the house)
· Retaining walls
· Roofing, flashings, chimneys, and attic
· Eaves, soffits, and fascias
· Walls, doors, windows, patios, walkways
· Foundation, basement, and crawlspaces
· Garage, garage walls, floor, and door operation
· Kitchen appliances (dishwasher, range/oven/cooktop/hoods, microwave, disposal, trash compactor)
· Laundry appliances (washer and dryer)
· Ceilings, walls, floors
· Kitchen counters, floors, and cabinets
· Windows and window gaskets
· Interior doors and hardware
· Plumbing fixtures and systems
· Electrical system, panels, entrance conductors
· Electrical grounding, GFCI, outlets
· Smoke (flame) detectors
· ventilation systems and Insulation
· Heating equipment and controls
· Ducts and distribution systems
· Air Conditioning and controls
· Heat Pumps and controls
· security items such as means of egress, TPRV valves, railings, etc..
Other things that are not part of this standard inspection can be added for an additional charge:
· Radon Gas Test
· Water Quality Test
· Termite Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)
· Gas Line Leak Test (usually performed by the gas company)
· Sprinkler System Test
· Swimming Pool and Spa Inspection
· Mold Screening (sometimes performed by a separate company)
· Septic System Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)
· Alarm System (usually performed by a separate company)
We recommend getting a Radon Test if your prospective home falls into an area of the country with famous Radon seepage, because Radon gas creates cancer second only to cigarette smoking and can be easily mitigated by installing a vent system. We also suggest a water test to ensure you don’t have germs in the water source. Water can also be tested for Radon.
What isn’t included in the inspection?
Most people assume that everything is inspected in depth on inspection day. This misunderstanding has caused a lot of homebuyer to be upset with their own inspector. The inspections we do are not exhaustive and there’s a good reason for this. If you hired someone with licenses for heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, technology, etc. to inspect your house, it would take about 14 hours and cost you about $2000! It’s much more sensible to hire a professional inspector who has generalist knowledge of house systems, knows what to look for, and can recommend further inspection by a professional if necessary. Your inspector can also be after very specific guidelines as he/she inspects your dwelling. These are national guidelines (ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors, InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) or state guidelines. Here are some examples: We are led to not turn systems on if they were off at the time of this inspection (security reasons); we aren’t allowed to move furniture (might harm something); not permitted to turn on water if it is off (possible flood), and not allowed to break through a sealed attic hatch (potential damage). The disadvantage of this practice is that by not working a control, by not seeing under the furniture, rather than getting into the attic or crawlspace, we will might miss identifying an issue. However, put into perspective, the odds of missing something serious due to this can be quite low, and the principle as it relates to security and not harming anything in the home is a good one. There are other things that 95% of inspectors consider outside a normal inspection, and these include inspecting most things that are not bolted down (installed in the home) such as electronics, low voltage light, space heaters, portable air conditioners, or specialized systems such as water purifiers, alarm systems, etc..
What if there are items you can’t inspect (such as snow on the roof)?
It just so happens that some days the weather elements interfere with a full home inspection! If there’s snow on the roof we will tell you we were not able to inspect it. Of course we’ll be looking at the eves and the attic, and some other areas where we can find an idea of illness, but we will write in the report which we could not inspect the roof. It’s impractical for us to return another day when the snow melts, because we have full schedules. However, you can usually pay an inspector a small fee to return and inspect the one or two items they were unable to inspect if they had been there the first time. This is just the way things go. If you ask the inspector for a re-inspection, they will typically inspect the items then at no additional cost (beyond the re-inspection fee).
The inspector will walk on the roof if it is secure, accessible, and powerful enough so that there isn’t any harm done to it by walking on it. Some roofs – such as slate and tile, shouldn’t be walked on. Sometimes because of poor weather conditions, extremely steep roofs, or very significant roofs, the inspector will not be able to walk the roof. The inspector will try to get up to the edge, however, and will also use binoculars where access is a problem. They will also examine the roof from the top windows if that is possible. There is a lot the inspector can determine from a visual examination from a ladder and out of the ground, and they’ll be able to tell a whole lot more from inside the attic about the condition of the roof as well.
Should I have my house tested for Radon? What exactly is Radon?
You can ask your real estate agent about this or go on to the internet for a radon map of the country. Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation.
The only way to discover if your house comprises radon gas is to do a radon measurement evaluation, which your home inspector can perform. Make sure the person conducting your test has been trained to The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) or The National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) standards.
Does it need a house inspection?
Yes! In fact, we find far more problems, some quite serious, in newly constructed homes than in homes which have been lived in for years. This isn’t due to your builder’s negligence – he/she has done the best job they can with subcontractors and preparation – it is just that there are so many systems in a house, that it is close to impossible to inspect everything, and fix it before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Then, for some reason, the subcontractors no longer wish to work on the home, and final jobs and details are missed. We recommend getting several professional home inspections near the completion phases of the home to discover everything that ought to be corrected. If the house is new but sitting for some time before sale, it is even more important to find a home inspection.
I am having a house built. The builder assures me that he will inspect everything. Should I have a different inspector make periodic inspections?
Absolutely yes! No matter how good your builder is, he/she WILL miss things. They’re so concerned with the home, they get so close to their work, as do the subcontractors, that significant items can, and will be, overlooked. Have a professional inspector create at least 4-6 interim inspections. They’ll be worth their weight in gold.
What’s the Pre-Inspection Agreement?
In fact, there’s sufficient confusion about what a home inspection should deliver the agreement is even more significant. Some homeowners who get a house inspection anticipate everything in the home to be perfect after the repairs. This isn’t the case! Imagine getting a call from a homeowner a year later who says the toilet is not flushing – recall that the review is an instant in time snapshot. In the inspection arrangement the contractor is clear about what the inspection delivers and the things which aren’t insured, and what you should do if you’re not delighted with the services. We really feel that by reviewing this before-hand you will understand much more about the inspection and be more happy with the results. A home inspection does not guard against potential problems, nor does it guarantee that all problems will be found.
What sort of report will I get following the inspection?
There are as many variations of a “report” as there are inspection companies. Guidelines dictate that the inspector deliver a written report to the client. This can vary from a handwritten checklist which has multiple press copies without pictures and 4 pages long to a computer generated professionally produced record with digital pictures that is 35 pages long and can be converted to Adobe PDF for storage and emailing. Make certain to consult your inspector about the report that he or she uses. We recommend the computer generated report, because the checklist is more detailed and easier for the homeowner/buyer/seller to detail out the issues with photographs. In this modern era, we feel the reports have to be web accessible and e-mailable to match the technology most of us are using.
There are some great things you can use the report for in addition to the wealth of information it only gives you on your new home:
· Use the report as a checklist and guide for the contractor to make repairs and improvements or get quotes and quotes from more than one contractor.
· Use the report as a budgeting tool using the inspector’s recommendations and the remaining expected life of components to maintain the property in prime shape.
· If you are a seller, make use of the report to make improvements and repairs, raising the value of the house and impressing the buyers. Then have a re-inspection and use this instant report as a marketing tool for potential buyers.
Will the report be emailable or available as an Adobe PDF file?
Yes. As discussed in the previous question, you will most likely want your inspector to be using the most recent reporting technology.
What if I think the inspector missed something?
Inspectors are human, and they do miss things. However, they routinely use advanced tools and techniques to reduce the possibility that they will miss something. That is one reason that an inspector can overlook a thing when they get interrupted. The inspector will have a set way of resuming the inspection if this happens. If, in the end, something IS missed, call the inspector and talk about it. It may justify the inspector returning to view something which you found. Remember, the inspector is doing the best job they know how to do, and likely did not miss the item because they were lax in their technique or didn’t care.
Imagine if the inspector tells me I should possess a professional engineer or a licensed plumber or other professional contractor in to look at something they found?
You might be disappointed that additional investigation is required, but, believe us, your inspector is doing precisely what they should do. The purpose of the inspection is to detect defects that affect your security and the functioning of the home; the inspector is a generalist, not a specialist. Our code of ethics as well as state and national guidelines dictate that only contractors that are licensed in their specialization area should work on these systems and regions. When they tell you that a specialist is needed, there may be a bigger, more critical issue which you need to know about. If you move into the house without getting these regions checked by a qualified specialist, you could be in for some nasty and costly surprises. The inspector doesn’t wish to cause you some more expense or worry either, so when they do recommend further evaluation they are being serious about protecting you and your investment.
Will the inspector provide a warranty on the inspected items?
Most inspectors do not offer the homeowner a warranty on inspected items. Bear in mind, a home inspection is a visual examination on a specific day, and the inspector cannot predict what problems could arise over time following the inspection. This is a really great deal, and the arrangement can be extended after the initial period for a relatively small amount of money.
Do most inspection companies offer money back guarantees?
Most inspection companies don’t offer a satisfaction guarantee nor do they mention it in their advertising. It’s always a good thing if you’re able to get additional services for no additional cost from your review company, and of course a satisfaction guarantee is an indication of superior customer services. You normally have to call your review company right after the inspection and viewing of this report to tell them you aren’t satisfied. If you’re not satisfied with the services, you should speak with your inspector initially and let him/her correct the issue(s) that you are not pleased with first, since the inspector is trying to earn an honest living exactly like the rest of us, and is not failing you on purpose.
What if my report comes back with nothing really defective in the home?
Most importantly, you can feel assured that you’re making a well-informed purchase decision.
What if the inspection reveals serious flaws?
If the inspection reveals serious flaws in the house (we define a severe defect as something that will cost more than 2 percent of the purchase price to fix) then pat yourself on the back for getting an inspection. You just saved yourself a ton of money. Of course it’s disappointing, even heart wrenching, to find out that your well researched home is now a difficulty house, but you now know the facts and can either negotiate with the vendor, or move on. You might want the house so much that it’ll be well worth it to negotiate the price and then execute the repairs. Imagine, however, if you had not gotten the review – you would have had some very unpleasant surprises.
Can I ask my home inspector to perform the repairs?
You can, but if your inspector is ethical, he/she will deny, and properly so; it’s a conflict of interest for the person who inspected your home to also mend it! Inspectors are specifically barred from this practice by licensing authorities, and it is a good practice – an inspector must remain completely impartial when he or she inspects your dwelling. This is one reason you need to have a professional home inspector inspect your home and not a contractor – the contractor will need the repair job and you’re likely to not have an objective review from this individual despite the fact that they mean well and are technically capable.
Does the Seller Need to make the repairs?
The review report results don’t place an obligation on the vendor to repair everything mentioned in the report. After the home condition is understood, the buyer and the seller must sit down and discuss what is in the report. The report will be clear about what’s a repair and what’s a discretionary improvement. It’s important to know that the inspector must stay out of this discussion because it is outside of the scope of work.
You definitely can, and it is a excellent idea. For a small charge the inspector will return to determine whether the repairs were finished, and if they had been completed correctly.
A home inspection is not a guarantee that problems will not develop after you move in. However, if you think that a problem was observable at the time of the inspection and should have been mentioned in the report, your first step should be to call the inspector. He or she will be OK with this, and does need you to call if you think there is a problem. If the issue isn’t resolved with a telephone call, they will come to your home to look at it. One way to protect yourself between the inspection and the move-in is to conduct a last walkthrough on closing day and use both the review report AND a Walkthrough Checklist to make sure everything is as it ought to be.