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What is so involved about my home inspection?

Real Estate Agent with Remax First Realty II 0790808

Dear TZ, 

I am buying a home and I'm getting a Home Inspection.  But the inspector said I need a termite inspector, radon test and a tank sweep.  Are those required?  Why do I need all that?

Buyer Bill




Dear Bill,

In New Jersey it is not required to get a home inspection, but doing so is highly recommended for several reasons.  Firstly, your home inspector (who must be state certified) will inspect and tell you about the major systems in the home - think electrical, heat, AC, etc...  He or she will let you know if the systems are in working condition, nearing the end of their life cycle or need repair or replacement.  They will also let you know about the roof, any mold issues, and other factors that could affect the safety of your family.  They can also identify obvious code and structural issues.  They will give you the option to do a radon test.  You should allow them to do so (unless you're buying a condo in a high rise).

What is radon?  Radon is a naturally occuring radioactive gas that is created when radium decays. It comes out of the ground and, in small doses, is pretty harmless.  However, in higher concentrations over an extended time it may cause lung cancer.  Statistics show that 1 in 15 homes in the US have high radon concentration.  The safe tolerance for radon in New Jersey is 4 Pci/L (picocuries per liter).  Anything above that number requires mitigation.  Mitigation is relatively inexpensive.  In most cases an enclosed fan is installed and vented through a chimney where the radon dissapates in the air, reducing the concentration in your home to safe levels.  Testing before you buy gives you a negotiation edge if the levels are high.  In some cases you might be able to have the seller pay to have the mitigation equipment installed (pictured on the right.)  The test is usually around $150.  Money well spent.

Your home inspector may have a pest control specialist come out to do a wood destroying insect inspection or they may do it themselves.  Either way you will get a document (that your mortgage company will want) that states whether or not there are wood destroying insects present.  They look for evidence of active or past termite activity, as well from Carpenter Bees and Carpenter Ants and wood destroying beetles.  If there is any kind of activity, in most cases the seller will be responsible for having a pest control treatment done on the home before the closing.

The tank scan requires another professional to come in and search your entire property.  They use ground penetrating radar to search for UST's (Underground Storage Tank).  When they search they may find an abandoned oil or septic tank.  The septic tanks are not a major concern (unless the top collapses).  But the oil tanks are an issue.  Suppose that the seller converted to gas 20 years ago.  When they did so, they filed permits with town and had the tank filled with sand.  All legally done, at the time.  If a tank is found your attorney, mortgage and insurance company will most likely insist that the tank be removed.  Removal is pretty simple and usually only costs about $1500.  It will tear up the lawn, but doing so will ensure that the tank was not leaking and that there are no environmental issues.  If the tank was leaking they will test the soil, if the contamination is over a certain level they will need remove all the contaminated soil and the NJDEP (NJ Department of Environmental Protection) will issue an NFA (No Further Action) Letter. The problem with leaking oil tanks are that they have the potential of contaminating the underground water supply.  So get those tanks removed!!!

So in closing Bill, your inspector may need to bring in some other professionals, but this all done so that you can buy your home knowing that it's completely safe and sound for you and your family.

If you have questions about what's involved in the process of buying or selling a home contact Team Zuhl TODAY!  Remember with Team Zuhl, everything we touch turns to SOLD!!!

Posted by




~ Wayne & Jean 

Union County, NJ - a great place to live and work!

If you're looking to buy or sell a property in Union County, call us at 908-917-4189 or email TeamZuhl@gmail.com.


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All opinions, information and data provided is deemed reliable but is subject to errors and omissions. Not intended to solicit other Brokers' clients. We cooperate with them fully. 

Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Wayne and Jean. Knowing exactly what you are purchasing is important! Enjoy your day!

Feb 08, 2016 10:12 PM
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good morning Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl . There is a lot that goes into a home inspection. Many think it is a waste of time and money.

Feb 09, 2016 12:16 AM
North Jersey Property Inspections, Inc - Saddle Brook, NJ

Thank You Wayne and Marie.  I hope you don't mind if I insert one minor correction.  An Inspector is a generalist.  Under State of New Jersey Standards of Practice, he is not a code official or a licensed structural engineer.  He cannot give an opinion as to the structural integrity of the building or any of it's components.  There may be some obvious defects that an inspector may often come across that will prompt him to recommend a structural engineer or code official be bought in to examine it.  

If you hire a home inspector, like myself, with an engineering degree and a construction background, his specialized training will allow him to access the defect and recommend a remediation action plan.

With respect to Radon, here is a State of NJ Radon Map to help your buyer determine whether the expense of a radon test is warranted or not.  Of course if you have kids, basement without windows or are a smoker, I recommend that you weigh in favor of having the Radon test performed.



Feb 09, 2016 01:06 AM
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

we totally recommend AND if they choose not to then we ask them to sign a waiver that we did indeed ask...

Feb 09, 2016 01:38 AM
Diana Zaccaro Broker Associate
ZOOM Realty Group - Cocoa Beach, FL
"The Accidental Blogger" Cocoa Beach, Florida

The best surprise is no surprise when buying a home and the money spent on inspections and tests is cheap insurance. Far better to know and have any deficiencies rectified before closing.


Feb 10, 2016 07:14 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is very good reading for home sellers.

Have a most productive month!

Feb 12, 2016 12:20 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Wayne & Jean, GREAT post, and buyers do need to know all the things that could go wrong in a home, and to check out before they buy it! 

Feb 14, 2016 11:02 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Wayne and Jean - this is one of the best steps a buyer can take to protect the potential investment.  I would never buy without it.

Feb 16, 2016 03:29 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

A home in spection in my market is very reasonable and the smart agents and buyers have them performed.

Feb 18, 2016 10:57 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Why would someone refuse to do, at least, a home inspection on a regular purchase is out of my understanding( unless you are a certified inspector yourself or it is a brand new construction with 3 y. warranty).

Feb 22, 2016 03:46 PM