Home Inspection - Get it right the first time!
The home inspection is a once in a lifetime experience, which if not done properly can come back to haunt you for the rest of your stay. It is essential that you participate in the home inspection and not just learn but ask questions and get explanations. Try to find an inspector who is a member of the ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). These inspectors are considered highly qualified and reliable.
Here is a guide to the home inspection and what your role should be:
1. Choose a home inspector who understands your situation as a homebuyer and is willing to guide you through the process.
2. It will serve you well to familiarize yourself with all the systems in the house and also the environmental issues that you may face in the future. Some of the environmental issues you want to question include: lead paint notification, radon, UFFI and certification of the septic system.
Lead Paint: Homes built before 1978 are likely to have lead based paint in them, which leads to a risk of lead poisoning.
Radon: This is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rock deposits. High levels or radon can increase the risk of lung cancer.
UFFI: This is a type of insulation that was sprayed in the 70's and emits a toxic gas due to which the state banned UFFI in 1979.
3. Get organized and keep good records of each of the components and structural elements of the house. You can create a folder with files on each of the areas and take notes as you go along. Here are some of the components you may want to begin with: Heating System, Electrical Service, Water Heater, Septic System, Fireplaces, Foundation, Roof, Deck, AC, Pool & Jacuzzi, Garden etc.
4. Try to think of all the questions you may need to ask like:
How would you describe the condition of the roof? What type of maintenance would be required going forward?
Based on the area I am located in, do you notice any equipment lacking, or any condition deficient in handling natural occurrences like a tornado, hurricane, floods or earthquake?
Please inform me if you observe any safety issues. Considering that we will have children and pets in the home, do you recommend any enhancements or special proofing to avoid accidents?
Are there any other hazards that may cause long-term health issues? Are there any environmental concerns regarding the location and the zoning that I need to know about. What is your estimate of the cost for fixing the major problem areas?
Can you explain the structure of your report? Will you be able to provide me with a summary of the vital issues in the report?
What section of the report will include information on energy efficiency and maintenance?§ If I forget to ask something, or if my bank or insurance company has a question after the inspection may we call you?
Here are some of the things you want to look out for:
1. Mold stains and odors, particularly since the black mold is toxic. This is a bad one to have on your inspection report and if it does not scare your buyers, it will result in a very low offer. Drive to the source of the problem and treat the area to get rid of any mold. Air the home to ensure that it does not recur.
2. Lighting: Test fixtures both interior and exterior and check the electrical systems.
3. Heating system: Test the thermostats to make sure the heating system is working. Don't forget to purchase CARBON MONOXIDE detectors to provide alerts. Check for fire hazards and test the smoke detectors to make sure they are working.
4. Basements and crawlspaces should be inspected in daylight. Any exposed earth or moisture in basements should be covered and leaks need to be plugged.
5. Make sure the septic system is checked. This can cause the most frustration and unpleasantness in case of a breakdown. Some inspectors flush a color dye into the toilet and then see if the dye appears on the drain field. If it does, it signals a problem.
6. Check the gutters and clear channels to ensure uninterrupted flow. Downspouts will allow the water to be directed away from the house.
7. Get a termite inspection done by a licensed structural pest control operator. Yes there is such a person! Find out how serious the problem is.
8. If there is a well on the premises, ensure a full potability and mineralization test.
Here is a concise alphabetical checklist of the areas you may want to cover:
A Air-conditioning, Appliances, Attics
B Basements, Bathrooms, Blinds, Shades & Drapes, Brickwork
C Carpet Spots, Ceilings, Closets
D Decks & Patios, Dehumidifiers, Dishwashers
E Electrical, Exterior walls, Energy Efficient devices
F Fences, Fireplaces, Floor scratches
G Garages, Gutters and Downspouts
H Heat Pumps, Humidifiers
I Insulation, Interior walls, Insects
L Laundry Rooms, Lawn & Garden, Lawn Sprinklers, Lighting
P Plumbing, Pools, Ponds
S Stairs & Steps, Skylights, Stains, Security, Septic system
T Tiles, Termites
W Woodwork, Wood Rot, Water Heaters, Wallpapering
"All information in this report is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed."