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?
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!!!