A general home inspection is a necessary and common step in the home-buying process. However, there are other potentially important inspections that could affect your home purchase.
Usually suggested by your inspector or real estate agent, they typically surface from issues found during the general inspection or that have been provided in the sellers’ disclosure. Focused on one area or system, these inspections dig deep into the health of the home to expose potential issues — saving you a huge headache (and the repair bill to go along with it).
The time to find out if your dream home has a faulty sewer system or requires any repair is before the closing, not after you’ve signed on the dotted line. This inspection is especially important for houses that are 20 years older or more. Not only can the pipes erode and break down, but tree roots also can wreak havoc, leaving you with an expensive repair bill (and a temporarily unlivable house, in some cases).
Using a camera attached to the end of a plumbing snake, your sewer professional will be able to view the interior of the plumbing lines and any issues they may contain. When you’re armed with the results, inform the seller of any issues and negotiate necessary repairs or replacement during the inspection period.
It’s widely accepted that if you are buying a home that was built prior to 1978, lead is probably present in the original exterior or interior paint. If the home has been given a thorough paint job and the old paint is covered with new, it’s probably safely contained below the layers of the new paint. However, testing the old paint and knowing definitively is always a good practice, especially if you’re planning on renovating after you purchase the home. Lead in the old paint is damaging in the form of dust, especially to children. Lead literature is abundant; if your home does indeed have lead present, follow the best-practices guidelines when dealing with any original paint.
Oil tank inspection
The presence of an oil tank on a property is usually noted by the seller in the disclosure statement or by the home inspector during the visual inspection of the property grounds. While oil tank laws vary widely between states, it’s common practice to have an inspection and check for leakage and/or contaminated soil. In some areas, unused tanks must be issued a decommissioned certification before the sale can proceed. A licensed oil tank inspector can advise you of local laws and ensure the oil tank on your new property won’t prevent you from closing on the sale.
Central air/heating inspection
If during the general inspection the heating or air-conditioning unit is not performing as it should, your inspector may suggest calling in a professional to pinpoint the issue. Perhaps the air ducts are blocked or the unit itself is not working or hasn’t been maintained properly — any of those could be cause for concern. A heating/cooling inspector will clean and maintain the system as well as advise any repairs or replacements. Consider the cost of this service money well spent to avoid issues down the road.
A roof is one of the most costly components of a home to repair and replace. A thorough report from a roof inspector provides an accurate assessment of the current condition of the roof as well as its proposed longevity. The inspector will check for movement and condition of roof materials, functionality of gutters and drains, plus flashing. After any necessary repairs are completed, the roofing company will estimate the remaining years of the roof’s life and certify its inspection.
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that occurs naturally — but it’s also the number two cause of lung cancer. (Smoking is still number one.) Since there are no obvious indicators of its presence, it’s a smart choice to test for radon as a matter of practice. The test is inexpensive and can take from two days up to a week from deployment to results. The presence of high levels of radon doesn’t usually derail a home purchase, however, as mitigation is typically a reasonable expense.
In markets like Las Vegas, NV, a pool is a selling point, but in other areas it’s practically a liability. Regardless, if your potential new home has a pool, it’s always a good idea to have a separate pool inspection. For best results, the pool must be open and functional. If it’s the middle of a Midwest winter and the pool is buried under two feet of snow — buyer beware. You could encounter a huge repair bill come spring. Even if the seller advertised the pool in “as-is” condition, have the inspector do an in-depth inspection. It’s always a good idea to know what’s in store.
Foundation issues can be some of the most costly to repair. If your general inspector notices cracks in the foundation, they’ll typically suggest having a separate inspection done. A foundation expert will be able to distinguish minor cracks, which can be common in older homes, from major foundational problems. Word to the wise: If your general inspection report lists a foundational crack, it’s common for your lender to require another inspection with an all-clear certification before they will lend on the property.
A general rule of thumb is, the higher the humidity, the more issues homeowners have with pests and termites. Calling in a professional will not cost you a lot of money, but it could save you big bucks in the long run. Termites eat wood from the inside out; there may be no obvious signs of their presence until your front porch starts leaning to the left.
An inspector will search for the presence of these tiny pests, evaluate the damage, and take steps to eliminate them. It’s advisable to have a pest and termite inspection every year or two depending on where your home is located. Also, an inspection company will usually warranty its past inspections for a period in case the pests show up again.