This post pertains to inspections that are customary in the DC Metro area. It's well known in the real estate industry that buyers should always get a home inspection done on the property unless they're buying a property to be torn down. Unfortunately, many agents also don’t understand that a general home inspection is usually not enough to give you a full picture of the condition of the property. For example, home inspectors (general inspectors) simply look inside the fireplace. They’ll open/close the damper and they’ll also look at the chimney on the exterior of the property and on the roof. They’ll let you know if a chimney cap is missing, a damper isn’t working, etc. What the general inspector won’t be able to tell you is the condition of the flu (masonry or metal) because he/she doesn’t insert a camera in to the flu and inspect it. A chimney inspector will provide a very detailed inspection of the chimney and will get back to you with a written report showing any areas of concern. Chimneys can be very dangerous to homeowners if there are cracks in the flu. A qualified chimney inspector is the only contractor who can make sure you’re not buying a home with a chimney that needs to have a flu insert installed or possible major work on the masonry.
What are the other inspections that you should consider? Definitely a wood-destroying pest inspection, radon inspection, possibly a roof inspection if the home inspector indicates that the roof is not in good shape, etc. A well and/or septic inspection is a must unless the Seller is going to provide a certificate for them stating that they’ve been inspected by qualified contractors and they’re functioning as they should. If your home inspector indicates that there’s a possible settlement issue with the home, you definitely should hire a foundation contractor/structural engineer to take a look at it. If your home inspector states that he/she suspects mold in the property, a mold inspection is called for. You don’t need to find out that the property is infested with mold after you’ve gone to settlement. An industrial hygienist is called for if you suspect mold. Not only to test but to remediate.
And...who could forget lead paint? Thorough lead paint inspections normally cost approx. $500. There are some tests that cost much less, but may not be as effective at detecting lead. It's worth it here to do the research and make sure you understand how the test is done before trying to save money on the testing.
There are other inspections that you might want to consider based on the property that you’ve chosen and the findings of your home inspector. Make sure your home inspector is ASHI or NAHI-certified and getting a referral from another homeowner who was happy with their inspector is always a good idea.