Tag Archives: Home

Home Inspections In 2016

Ah, the dreaded home inspection. For the seller, it can be suspenseful as they wait for the report to come back with any items that need to be fixed. For the buyer, it can mean a piece of mind that everything in the home is in working order and the potential opportunity to negotiate the repairs/ purchase price if anything is turned up during the home inspection process.

In general, a home inspection is meant to thoroughly check the condition of a home and is typically done when a home is being sold. More often than not, a home inspection is done by a trained and licensed inspector that acts as a neutral third party to inspect the home and provide a written report of all findings. Items that are typically examined in a home inspection include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Roof – What is the overall condition and probable age? Does it need to be replaced?
  • Exterior of the home – Including the foundation, drainage issues, gutters, siding, etc.
  • Attic space – Properly insulated and verify no leaks are present.
  • Basement – Wet basements and crawlspaces can be a cause for concern.
  • Plumbing – Check for any leaks.
  • Electrical – Test of the light switches, electrical outlets and electrical panel.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems – Are they in proper working order?
  • Water heater – Is it in good condition and working properly?
  • Appliances – General condition and age (If they are included in the sale)
  • Other – a home inspector looks at windows, doors and any potential pest damage.

The physical condition of the house is an important aspect of buying a home. Many buyers include a home inspection condition as part of the purchase contract. The buyer is usually responsible for scheduling and paying for the inspection. If any issues are found during the home inspection process, then the buyer may go to the seller to ask for repairs or credits toward the purchase price to fix any items uncovered.

The Pre-Inspection

Some buyers prefer to do a pre-inspection before submitting an offer. This is commonly done in areas with hot real estate markets when a buyer may be competing against other offers and wants to set the offer apart by not having the inspection contingency included. It’s also not uncommon for a seller to do a pre-listing inspection of the house to fix any problems before a buyer enters the scene and requests for a repair to be made or money off of the purchase price.

Home Inspection Cost and Requirements

A regular home inspection will take a few hours to complete and can range anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on the size, location, type and age of the home. Some buyers will accompany the inspector while he or she is completing the inspection to learn more about any problems that are found and ask questions. A home inspection report will be furnished to the buyer. There is usually a state run website addressing this issue including having a list of state certified inspectors. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) can also be great resources as well. Most associations require a minimum number of inspections to join. For example, the ASHI requires no less than 250 inspections to be a member. As with any home improvement contractor, you can always ask for proof of licensing and insurance to make sure they are legitimate.

Typical home inspection reports will be thorough with photos and potentially diagrams. While the home inspector does provide a fairly comprehensive report, other reports may be needed. These may include, but are not limited to, a pest report, environmental health hazards (radon, mold, lead, asbestos) and specialized inspections from hazards such as flooding.

Home inspections are worth their weight in gold as paying a few hundred dollars to uncover a potentially major problem is money well spent instead of buying a home without an inspection only to discover a costly repair needed after you own the property. Even when purchasing a new property, a home inspection can potentially draw attention to any issues.

Home Inspection Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Many will think that home inspection is not essential while buying a house but it is not so. A home inspection is important for your family’s safety as all the components, systems, structure, appliances & installations are inspected thoroughly to ascertain they are working properly. By having a home inspection you will make sure that the house is safe your family to live in and you are paying the right price for the house.

Pre-requisites for Home Inspection

At the time a NACHI certified home inspector goes to the house for a home inspection you need to make sure that the seller provides him proper access from where he can inspect every area of the house. You need to ask the seller to remove storage containers away from wall to make it easy for the home inspector to check. In case he is not able to view any particular section of the house then he should indicate it in his report.

Broad Categorization of House Defects

Most of the problems that are looked at during a home inspection can be broadly categorized into following:

  1. Tracing major defects such as some type of structural failure.
  2. Things which can cause major problems in future such as minor roof flashing leakage.
  3. Problems in the house which can create hindrance in financing the house, insure or occupy it.
  4. Safety related problems like electric panel with buss bar which is exposed.

Home Inspection Tips for Sellers

A seller can expedite the home inspection process if he follows the under mentioned tips. If these suggestions are followed then it will result in smoother inspection and less number of concerns to solve before the closing.

  1. Check that electric, gas & water services are running. Additionally, make sure that gas pilot lights are properly burning.
  2. Avoid getting light inoperable report by changing burned out electrical items such as bulbs.
  3. Get rid of dead batteries so that they do not create problems during smoke tests and carbon monoxide detection.
  4. Check that air filters (HVAC) fit in properly.
  5. Clean out wood, stored items & debris kept near the foundation as home inspector may term it as ideal location for growth of termites.
  6. Clear the path leading to water heaters, HVAC equipment, electrical panels, crawl spaces, closets & attics so that these can be inspected properly.
  7. Check and repair broken things such as latches, door knobs, screens, window panes, chimney caps & downspouts.

As mentioned above the major defects categorization & tips for sellers on how they can make the house ready before the inspector comes to the house will greatly assist buyers and sellers in evaluating problems in the house and take remedial steps to solve these problems.

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

When you begin the home buying process it is an exciting, and yet often stressful time. You look at home after home, perhaps even place a few offers, and eventually you find the place that makes you sing. You know that it is everything you could possibly want, and perhaps even a bit more, but now it is at a point that can make one crazy – the property inspector needs to check out all aspects of your potential dream home so you can know if it is truly the home for you, and your budget.

The home inspection is truly an important part of the buying process, and it should be remembered that it is there to protect you. When the property inspector visits the potential home, they will check a long list of areas of the property to determine what – if any – problems you need to be cognizant of and can often let you know how much it will cost to have the repairs made.

Areas Commonly Checked during a Home Inspection

When a home inspection is done, there are key areas that will be checked. Be sure that your inspection includes these, as well as any other areas or concerns that you may have. If the home inspector balks at any of these areas or your other requests, then you will want to talk to another inspector.

· Exterior – The inspector should check all sides of the home, being sure to check siding, windows, doors, decks, foundation, gutters, chimneys, soffit, and fascia. They will also check the surface of a paved driveway, patio or – if a part of the home – the poolside. Also included in part of the exterior inspection will be the sloping of the lot as this affects the potential for flooding, whether there has been any settling in the yard and any damage to masonry work.

· Interior – The interior home inspection will include the walls, ceiling, appliances, electrical, plumbing, flooring, fireplaces, plumbing related features, and any other elements of the home.

· Condition – As part of the inspection, the inspector will also check mechanical systems such as the HVAC system, or note any irregularities in plaster, paneling, any damage due to pests, mold or other home features.

Working a home inspector is not something that should be skipped in the real estate buying process. It is a way to protect you and help you make a wise, informed purchase that will be affect you and your family’s lives for many years to come. Many companies can be contacted regarding a home inspector, but one company used in St. Paul is AmeriSpec Home Inspection.

What Does a Home Well Inspection Include?

If you have a well, an annual well inspection should be part of your maintenance to-do list. Even if your water tastes good, lead and other contaminants can seep into the water supply and lead to health problems. A well inspection is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of your drinking water.

What Does a Well Inspection Include?

Conducted by a licensed and/or certified well water contractor, your annual well inspection should include several components:

  • A flow test to measure water output and level, pump performance, tank pressure and switch contact pressure,
  • An inspection of equipment to ensure that it meets local codes and appears to be safe,
  • A test of water for coliform bacteria and nitrates,
  • Tests for any minerals known to affect water conditions in the area, such as sulfides, manganese or iron,
  • Periodic tests for pH levels or total dissolved solids,
  • Additional tests if the water is cloudy or oily, if there are signs of bacterial growth on fixtures or if equipment is not working properly, and
  • A written report that includes laboratory data, explains results and offers recommendations.

Useful Information about Well Inspections

Once you receive the reports from your well inspection and from any other tests that were performed, you should retain the records and keep them in a safe place, along with construction documents from when the well was first dug. Most wells have a life expectancy of about 20 years or more. Having your records on hand will be useful in determining when you might need to replace it, and necessary if you sell your house.

How much can you expect to pay for a well inspection? The cost varies according to the area and is based on the sampling methods, test procedures and the number of tests performed, but a homeowner can generally plan on spending around $150-$350. More extensive sampling for more contaminants can raise the cost.

When choosing a well inspector, it is important to use one who is licensed and certified in your state and who is familiar with the local codes. The inspector should use laboratories that are licensed to test for various contaminants that may appear in the water.

Why Should You Order an Annual Well Inspection?

You may wonder why an annual well inspection is necessary if you have no problems with taste, appearance, odor or performance. Since your well is underground, you may be unaware of any possible changes. If your home is near farms, mines, a landfill or gas or oil fields, contaminants could infiltrate your water. The same is true if you have dumped oil or waste in your yard, had your home exterminated, have a septic tank problem or develop cracks in the sealed sanitary cap on your well.

Having an annual well inspection is the best way to assure the safety and quality of your water supply.

Why You Should Get Periodic Home Inspections

Have you considered having a home inspection done? Home inspection is not just for the buyers and sellers of a home but can also be an invaluable resource for those who already own their own homes. Most people do not realize they should have a home inspection done every five to ten years as part of an overall maintenance plan. But a home inspector can help you more then you may think.

For most of us the two things we will spend the most money on in our lives is our cars and our homes. You would never drive the same car for 10 years or more without taking it in to a mechanic for a tune up would you?  Of course you would not. Car maintenance must be done to ensure your vehicle will continue to run as long and as well as possible. You also clean wash it and vacuum it once in a while as well to keep up the resale value if not for your own sense of cleanliness. Why then should your home be any different?

A regular maintenance plan for your home should include a home inspection every few years. A home inspector can advise you on any repairs that should be done before they become a major expense and discuss any safety issues you may be unaware of.

Home inspectors go over every aspect of your home and give you an unbiased report of the findings. The report will show you anything that may be wrong with your home now, what may be getting ready to need repairs as well as advise you on how to make the repairs.  For instance a home inspector may notice a small stain on a wall and track that to a water leak. The leak may have been small enough to only cost a couple of dollars to fix now but it could have done a lot of damages before you found it on your own.

Home inspections can also alert you to any safety issues you may be unaware of. Worn gas lines and frayed electrical wiring often goes unnoticed until a fire breaks out or people get sick and die. A home inspector looks at electrical wires as well as gas and plumbing as part of a routine check and alerts you when a problem is found.

Engaging the services of a professional home inspector should be a part of regular home maintenance. A thorough unbiased home inspection can point out repair and safety issues before they become a serious issue and help you to retain the value of your home as well as your peace of mind.

Electrical Home Inspection: What You Need to Know!

Whether you’re buying a home, or just moving in to your new home, here is some advice that can help you. If you’re in the buying process the things you will be looking for are safety and repair aspects. Most electrical contractors can offer you an inspection to check for both of these. If you are thinking to yourself right now that you have or are going to hire a Home inspector, think again. A home inspector does a generalized inspection. Most of them will know a little about a lot of different areas, but be an expert in none with a few exceptions. It is a certainty in most areas to say you will be forced to hire one to get a mortgage, and that’s a good thing. If you hire an experienced licensed electrician, your electrical inspection will be more thorough and you can get an estimate to what repairs will cost at the same time.

When buying a home you’ll want to know what if any defects there are, or safety hazards. Items that rate high on the list are things like aluminum wiring, GFCI receptacles, grounding and water leaking into service parts. The two of these that are most critical, dangerous and expensive are the aluminum wiring and water leaks into the main service. If you are just moving into a home you purchased, there are some things you can do to be sure your electrical system is safe. I highly recommend that all the devices be changed to new ones. This would be all the switches and receptacles. There is a reason for this. Most electrical problems occur when termination points become loose or corroded. See Picture

By having the devices professionally replaced, you can nip any of these problems before they occur. The other item to consider changing is light fixtures. This can be a bit expensive so if it isn’t in your budget try to at least change the very old ones. The reason for changing these is older fixture wires tend to get very brittle. If the bulbs used in them over the years were of an improper wattage, this can exaggerate the situation, a very common occurrence.

The peace of mind you will get, knowing a professional in the electrical field inspected your home, is well worth the money spent.

Home Inspections – A Question and Answer Guide

A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, structure, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the client (buyer, seller, or homeowner) a better understanding of the home’s general condition. Most often it is a buyer who requests an inspection of the home he or she is serious about purchasing. A home inspection delivers data so that decisions about the purchase can be confirmed or questioned, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner may not be aware of. It is not an appraisal of the property’s value; nor does it address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails in the future. [Note: Warranties can be purchased to cover many items.] A home inspection should not be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property on the day it is inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear for the home’s age and location. A home inspection can also include, for extra fees, Radon gas testing, water testing, energy audits, pest inspections, pool inspections, and several other specific items that may be indigenous to the region of the country where the inspection takes place. Home inspections are also used (less often) by a seller before listing the property to see if there are any hidden problems that they are unaware of, and also by homeowners simply wishing to care for their homes, prevent surprises, and keep the home investment value as high as possible.

The important results to pay attention to in a home inspection are:

1. Major defects, such as large differential cracks in the foundation; structure out of 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 repair.

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 that was not tied in to the structure properly.

3. Safety hazards, such as an exposed electrical wiring, lack of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) in kitchens and bathrooms, lack of safety railing on decks more than 30 inches off the ground, etc.

Your inspector will advise you about what to do about these problems. He/she may recommend evaluation – and on serious issues most certainly will – by licensed or certified professionals who are specialists in the defect areas. For example, your inspector will recommend you call a licensed building engineer if they find sections of the home that are out of alignment, as this could indicate a serious structural deficiency.

Home Inspections are only done by a buyer after they sign a contract, right?

This is not true! As you will see when you read on, a home inspection can be used for interim inspections in new construction, as a maintenance tool by a current homeowner, a proactive technique by sellers to make their home more sellable, and by buyers wanting to determine the condition of the potential home.

Sellers, in particular, can benefit from getting a home inspection before listing the home. Here are just a few of the advantages for the seller:

· The seller knows the home! The home inspector will be able to get answers to his/her 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 take the report and make it into a marketing piece for the home.

· The seller will be alerted to any safety issues found in the home 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 systems and appliances work together, you experience comfort, energy savings, and durability. Weak links in the system, however, can produce assorted problems leading to a loss in value and shortened component life. Would you buy a used car without a qualified mechanic looking at it? Your home is far more complicated, and to have a thorough inspection that is documented in a report arms you with substantial information on which to make decisions.

Why can’t I do the inspection myself?

Most homebuyers lack the knowledge, skill, and objectivity needed to inspect a home themselves. By using the services of a professional home inspector, they gain a better understanding of the condition of the property; especially whether any items do not “function as intended” or “adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling” or “warrant further investigation” by a specialist. Remember that the home inspector is a generalist and is broadly trained in every home system.

Why can’t I ask a family member who is handy or who is a contractor to inspect my new home?

Although your nephew or aunt may be very skilled, he or she is not trained or experienced in professional home inspections and usually lacks the specialized test equipment and knowledge required for an inspection. Home inspection training and expertise represent a distinct, licensed profession that employs rigorous standards of practice. Most contractors and other trade professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their own homes when they themselves purchase a home!

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 aspects of the home. Inspection fees from a certified professional home inspector generally start under $300. An average price 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?

This depends upon the size and condition of the home. 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 produces the report at your home, that will take an additional 30-50 minutes.

Do all homes require a home inspection?

Yes and No. Although not required by law in most states, we feel that any buyer not getting a home inspection is doing themselves a great disservice. They may find themselves with costly and unpleasant surprises after moving into the home and suffer financial headaches that could easily have been avoided.

Should I be at the inspection?

It’s a great idea for you be present during the inspection – whether you are buyer, seller, or homeowner. With you there, the inspector can show you any defects and explain their importance as well as point out maintenance features that will be helpful in the future. If you can’t be there, it is not a problem since the report you receive will be very detailed. If you are not present, then you should be sure to ask your inspector to explain anything that is not clear in the report. Also read the inspection agreement carefully so you understand what is covered and what is not covered in the inspection. If there is a problem with the inspection or the report, you should raise the issues quickly by calling the inspector, usually within 24 hours. If you want the inspector to return after the inspection to show you things, this can be arranged and is a good idea, however, you will be paying for the inspector’s time on a walkthrough since this was not included in the original service.

Should the seller attend the home inspection that has been ordered by the buyer?

The seller will be welcome at the inspection (it is still their home) although they should understand that the inspector is working for the buyer. The conversation that the inspector has with the buyer may be upsetting to the seller if the seller was unaware of the items being pointed out, or the seller may be overly emotional about any flaws. This is a reason why the seller might want to consider getting their own inspection before listing the home.

Can a house fail a home inspection?

No. A home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, cannot not pass or fail a house. The inspector will objectively describe the home’s physical condition and indicate which items are in need of repair or replacement.

What is included in the inspection?

The following list is not exhaustive. Not all of these may be in the inspection you get, but the inspector will be following a standardized checklist for the home:

· Site drainage and grading

· Driveway

· Entry Steps, handrails

· Decks

· Masonry

· Landscape (as it relates to the home)

· 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 systems and fixtures

· Electrical system, panels, entrance conductors

· Electrical grounding, GFCI, outlets

· Smoke (fire) detectors

· Ventilation systems and Insulation

· Heating equipment and controls

· Ducts and distribution systems

· Fireplaces

· Air Conditioning and controls

· Heat Pumps and controls

· Safety items such as means of egress, TPRV valves, railings, etc.

Other items that are not a part of the standard inspection can be added for an additional fee:

· 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 known Radon seepage, since Radon gas produces cancer second only to cigarette smoking and can be easily mitigated by installing a vent system. We also recommend a water test to make sure you do not have bacteria in the water supply. Water can also be tested for Radon.

What is not included in the inspection?

Most people assume that everything is inspected in depth on inspection day. This misunderstanding has caused many a homebuyer to be upset with their inspector. The inspections we do are not exhaustive and there is a good reason for this. If you hired someone with licenses for heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, engineering, etc. to inspect your house, it would take about 14 hours and cost you about $2000! It is much more practical to hire a professional inspector who has generalist knowledge of home systems, knows what to look for, and can recommend further inspection by a specialist if needed. Your inspector is also following very specific guidelines as he/she inspects your home. These are either national guidelines (ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors, InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) or state guidelines. These guidelines are carefully written to protect both your home and the inspector. Here are some examples: We are directed to not turn systems on if they were off at the time of the inspection (safety reasons); we are not allowed to move furniture (might harm something); not allowed to turn on water if it is off (possible flooding), and not allowed to break through a sealed attic hatch (possible damage). The downside of this practice is that by not operating a control, by not seeing under the furniture, and not getting into the attic or crawlspace, we will might miss identifying a problem. However, put into perspective, the chances of missing something serious because of this is quite low, and the guideline as it relates to safety and not harming anything in the home is a good one. There are other items 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 lighting, space heaters, portable air conditioners, or specialized systems such as water purifiers, alarm systems, etc.

What if there are things you can’t inspect (like snow on the roof)?

It just so happens that some days the weather elements interfere with a full home inspection! There isn’t much we can do about this either. If there is snow on the roof we will tell you we were unable to inspect it. Of course we will be looking at the eves and the attic, and any other areas where we can get an idea of condition, but we will write in the report that we could not inspect the roof. It is impractical for us to return another day once 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 when they were there the first time. This is just the way things go. If you ask the inspector for a re-inspection, they will usually inspect the items then at no extra charge (beyond the re-inspection fee).

Will the inspector walk on the roof?

The inspector will walk on the roof if it is safe, accessible, and strong enough so that there is no damage done to it by walking on it. Some roofs – such as slate and tile, should not be walked on. Sometimes because of poor weather conditions, extremely steep roofs, or very high roofs, the inspector will not be able to walk the roof. The inspector will try to get up to the edge though, and will also use binoculars where accessibility is a problem. They will also examine the roof from the upper windows if that is possible. There is a lot the inspector can determine from a visual examination from a ladder and from the ground, and they will be able to tell a 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?

In many areas of the country, the answer is a definite yes. You can ask your real estate agent about this or go on to the internet for a radon map of the country. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water.

Health officials have determined that radon gas is a serious carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. The only way to find out if your house contains radon gas is to perform a radon measurement test, which your home inspector can do. 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.

What about a newly constructed home? Does it need a home inspection?

Yes! In fact, we find far more problems, some quite serious, in newly constructed homes than in homes that have been lived in for years. This is not due to your builder’s negligence – he/she has done the best job they could with subcontractors and planning – it’s just that there are so many systems in a home, that it is close to impossible to inspect everything, and correct it before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Then, for some reason, the subcontractors no longer want to work on the home, and final jobs and details are missed. We recommend getting several professional home inspections near the completion stages of the home to discover everything that should be corrected. If the house is still new but sitting for a while before sale, it’s even more important to get a home inspection. We have seen water lines not hooked up, plumbing lines not hooked up, sewer lines not hooked up, vents not hooked up, and a variety of other serious but easily correctable problems!

I am having a home built. The builder assures me he will inspect everything. Should I have an independent inspector make periodic inspections?

Absolutely yes! No matter how good your builder is, he/she WILL miss things. They are so concerned with the house, they get so close to their work, as do the subcontractors, that important items can, and will be, overlooked. Have a professional inspector make at least 4-6 interim inspections. They will be worth their weight in gold.

What is the Pre-Inspection Agreement?

Most service professionals have a service agreement, and home inspection is no different. In fact, there is enough confusion about what a home inspection should deliver that the agreement is even more important. Some homeowners who get a home inspection expect everything in the home to be perfect after the repairs. This is not the case! Imagine getting a call from a homeowner a year later who says the toilet is not flushing – remember that the inspection is a moment in time snapshot. In the inspection agreement the inspector is clear about what the inspection delivers and the things that are not covered, as well as what you should do if you are not pleased with the services. We really think that by reviewing this before-hand you will understand much more about the inspection and be happier with the results. A home inspection does not guard against future problems, nor does it guarantee that all problems will be found.

What kind of report will I get following the inspection?

There are as many versions of a “report” as there are inspection companies. Guidelines dictate that the inspector deliver a written report to the client. This can range from a handwritten checklist that has multiple press copies without pictures and 4 pages long to a computer generated professionally produced report with digital pictures that is 35 pages long and can be converted to Adobe PDF for storage and emailing. Be sure to check with your inspector about the report he or she uses. We recommend the computer generated report, since the checklist is more detailed and easier for the homeowner/buyer/seller to detail out the issues with photographs. In this modern age, we feel the reports must be web accessible and e-mailable to match the technologies most of us are using.

There are some great things you can use the report for in addition to the wealth of information it simply gives you on your new home:

· Use the report as a checklist and guide for the contractor to make repairs and improvements or get estimates 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 keep the property in top shape.

· If you are a seller, use the report to make repairs and improvements, raising the value of the home and impressing the buyers. Then have a re-inspection and use this second report as a marketing tool for prospective buyers.

· Use the report as a “punch list” on a re-inspection and as a baseline for ongoing maintenance.

Will the report be emailable or available as an Adobe PDF file?

Yes. As discussed in the last question, you will probably want your inspector to be using the latest reporting technology.

What if I think the inspector missed something?

Inspectors are human, and yes, they do miss items. However, they routinely use advanced tools and techniques to reduce the possibility that they will miss something. This includes very detailed checklists, reference manuals, computer based lists, and a methodical always-done-the-same-way of physically moving around your home. That is one of the reasons that an inspector can miss an item 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 discuss it. It may warrant the inspector returning to view something that you found. Remember, the inspector is doing the very best job they know how to do, and probably did not miss the item because they were lax in their technique or did not care.

What if the inspector tells me I should have a professional engineer or a licensed plumber or other professional contractor in to look at something they found? Isn’t this “passing the buck”?

You may be disappointed that further investigation is required, but, believe us, your inspector is doing exactly what they should be doing. The purpose of the inspection is to discover defects that affect your safety and the functioning of the home; the inspector is a generalist, not a specialist. Our code of ethics as well as national and state guidelines dictate that only contractors that are licensed in their specialty field should work on these systems and areas. When they tell you that a specialist is needed, there may be a bigger, more critical issue that you need to know about. If you move into the home without getting these areas checked by a qualified specialist, you could be in for some nasty and expensive surprises. The inspector does not want to cause you any 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 give the homeowner a warranty on inspected items. Remember, a home inspection is a visual examination on a certain day, and the inspector cannot predict what issues could arise over time after the inspection. However, some inspectors are now including a warranty from the largest home warranty company in America – American Home Warranty Corporation, as well as others, on the inspected items for 60 or 90 days. This is a very good deal, and the agreement 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 do not offer a satisfaction guarantee nor do they mention it in their advertising. It’s always a good thing if you can get extra services for no additional cost from your inspection company, and of course a satisfaction guarantee is an indication of superior customer service. You usually have to call your inspection company right after the inspection and viewing of the report to tell them you are not satisfied. If you are not happy with the services, you should talk to your inspector first and let him/her correct the issue(s) you are unhappy with first, as the inspector is trying to make an honest living just 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? Should I ask for my money back?

No, don’t ask for your money back – you just received great news! Now you can complete your home purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. You will have valuable information about your new home from the inspector’s report, and will want to keep that information for future reference. Most importantly, you can feel assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision.

What if the inspection reveals serious defects?

If the inspection reveals serious defects in the home (we define a serious defect as something that will cost more than 2% 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 is disappointing, even heart wrenching, to find out that your well researched house is now a problem house, but you now know the facts and can either negotiate with the seller, or move on. You may want the home so much that it will be worth it to negotiate the price and then perform the repairs. Imagine, though, if you had not gotten the inspection – 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 refuse, and correctly so; it is a conflict of interest for the person who inspected your home to also repair it! Inspectors are specifically barred from this practice by licensing authorities, and it’s a good practice – an inspector must remain completely impartial when he or she inspects your home. This is one reason you should have a professional home inspector inspect your home and not a contractor – the contractor will want the repair work and you are likely to not have an objective inspection from this person even though they mean well and are technically competent.

Does the Seller have to make the repairs?

The inspection report results do not place an obligation on the seller to repair everything mentioned in the report. Once the home condition is known, the buyer and the seller should sit down and discuss what is in the report. The report will be clear about what is a repair and what is a discretionary improvement. This area should be clearly negotiated between the parties. It’s important to know that the inspector must stay out of this discussion because it is outside of their scope of work.

After the home inspection and consulting with the seller on the repairs, can I re-employ the inspector to come re-inspect the home to make sure everything got fixed?

You certainly can, and it’s a really good idea. For a small fee the inspector will return to determine if the repairs were completed, and if they were completed correctly.

What if I find problems after I move into my new home?

A home inspection is not a guarantee that problems won’t develop after you move in. However, if you believe that a problem was visible 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 fine with this, and does want you to call if you think there is a problem. If the issue is not resolved with a phone call, they will come to your home to look at it. They will want you to be satisfied and will do everything they can to do this. One way to protect yourself between the inspection and the move-in is to conduct a final walkthrough on closing day and use both the inspection report AND a Walkthrough Checklist to make sure everything is as it should be.

Copyright 2010 by Lisa P. Turner

Tips for a Proper Home Inspection

Buying your own shelter is definitely an achievement in itself. But purchasing the right home is not at all easy. There are many things that should be taken into consideration. By hiring a home inspector a proper evaluation of a particular property can be done. This helps to recover any issues and indicate them before one can spend on the house or probably move into them. So, follow this article to find out some of the home inspection tips that can help you spend your money wisely.

Attend the Home Inspection

When a property is being inspected by a real estate agent you should surely attend the inspection. The inspection will take just a few hours. By doing that you would be able to get all the information correctly from the inspector. This will help you find all the issues personally and can save you from making a costly mistake.

No Follow-Up

If issues are found then the inspectors might suggest you some repairing. If you feel they are not much then you can find out the estimate that might be incurred. In some instances, the first home inspector whom you approach might want to take suggestions from another service provider. This can actually be good and help you get a proper third opinion. So, wait for the opinion so that you are ensured about your choice.

Do Not Rely Only On the Inspector

If you have a suspicion you can always go for a professional checkup. This will help you determine in a better way. Another thing that you should be going for is a termite inspection. This will find out if there are termites in the place. So, there will be chances that you will be staying protected from making costly repairs after buying a home.

Home Inspection For New Homes Too

We often think that a newly built home does not need inspection. But we are wrong. This step is very important and should not be avoided. This will indicate how the building has been built and if there are any imperfections.

Additional Tests for Older Homes

If you are buying an older home then you might have to check other things. The tests that should be done are running a camera through the drainage lines, a hydrostatic test in the drains might help to find out leakages in the drainage system. It is one of the important things to remember.

The Benefits of Getting a Professional Home Inspection

What is a professional home inspection?

Professional home inspections are becoming an important factor for everyone seeking or planing to buy or sell a home. A home may look to be in very good condition but if we go through the things that can’t be seen with the eye we may find issues that need to be addressed. The need of a professional home inspection is increasing day by day because of increasing litigation due to unknown or undisclosed defects.

A normal individual is not supposed to be the expert of all these technical details. This leads to the need a professional home inspector who inspects the home. A typical home inspection will take several hours to complete. If testing is being done for things such as mold, radon, etc it could take several days to get these results back from the lab.

There are many advantages or benefits to hiring a professional home inspector, some of these benefits are:

Benefits for the buyers

1) With a professional home inspection a buyer can calculate the most realistic price of the property he is going to buy. However, in most cases, the inspection is done after negotiating the price. The home inspection results can be used in negotiating repairs or if the repairs are extensive a buyer may want to back out of the transaction if the contract allows it. The buyers can compare the features and drawbacks with the similar properties available in the same condition.

2) Ridding the buyer from the stress of legal or documentary formalities as the inspector will provide a written report.

3) A Buyer can better guess the possible lifetime of the structure; this will enable him in planning the prospective use of this structure.

4) A buyer can better understand the impact of any unknown natural disaster on the home structure.

5) This could also save hundreds of dollars by making the buyer aware of repairs needed at the surface, fitting, flooring or roof of the structure as well as electrical and plumbing.

6) It satisfies a buyer by familiarizing them with all the maintenance and repair details, well in advance.

Benefits for the sellers

1) A professional home inspection gives the sellers a better idea about the current condition of their property. This is most important in cases where seller has not lived in the house and isn’t very familiar with it. Such as rental property, inherited property, etc.

2) With the better understanding of the main features of the home seller can bargain more confidently about the pricing by making any necessary repairs prior to putting the house on the market.

3) Gives you confidence of well-trained, professional helping hands with you.

These benefits of a professional home inspection make this service very popular among buyers and sellers. I suggest working with an inspector who is a member of ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors. A professional inspection, in the Chattanooga TN area, will cost about $325 but it’s money well spent by either a buyer or a seller.

A 411 on the Benefits of a Home Inspection For Home Buyers

Buying your own house is always a major decision to make. After all, you, as a buyer, will always want the best value for your money. One way of getting this is consulting a Professional Home Inspector service before you eventually purchase your home. However, not a lot of people are aware of what a home inspection actually is, and what is it exactly that inspectors do. Dismissing their services as only for those with extra money to spend or those who cannot inspect the structures themselves is not a very wise decision. But for the smart home buyer, having the home inspector enter take a look at the home first is always a smart move.

Before you decide to take that pen and signing that deed of sale, maybe think about having a Professional Home Inspection first. But you may ask, what exactly is it that the home inspector does? What should you expect once you do receive the services of one? In a basic home inspection, an inspector will perform a series of non-invasive and visual examination of the residential dwelling, which is designed to identify those materials defects which they may observe within specific components of the said dwelling. There are several components to each dwelling, whether it is mechanical, structural, electrical, plumbing, or any other system or component of the home. When it comes to which components are inspected, the home inspector and the client arrive at an agreement as to which one, or combination of components shall be inspected before inspection begins. In some states, as in Texas, there is a Pre-Inspection Agreement that is required to be signed before the inspection begins that outlines all the items that are covered, that are not covered and items which are optional.

The first benefit of having a home inspection is that you are assured that the home you are about to purchase is free from material defects which may endanger the lives of the residents. For instance, there are a lot of defects which any person may not notice given that he doesn’t really know how to inspect. There may be problems with the foundation of a home, the heating system, or the electrical wiring which the untrained person may not recognize as systematic.

After a home inspection, once you’ve had the inspector inspect the home and he has identified the defects, you are more or less aware of the overall condition of the house and what repairs have to be done, if any and in case you still wish to purchase the home despite the defects. This will be to your advantage as you will no longer have to make unplanned expenses in case it turns out later that the house needs more work than it looks like. In the end, paying for home inspection may actually prove to be more economical. Having the inspection is also economical in the sense that you get your money’s worth. Every consumer after all desires nothing more than getting the best value out of every cent spent, especially with today’s tough conditions. You will be sure that the home you purchase will be worth the amount with which you pay.

Whether for the safety reasons, or to get your money’s worth, or whatever reason you may have for hiring a home inspector, just remember that whenever you decide to have a home inspection, it will always be worth it.