What you need to know about Home Inspections

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It is estimated that about 70 percent of all homes sold receive a home inspection. Make sure you use a “licensed” home inspector if possible but double check credentials, experience and adherence to standards. A home inspection service is for education of potential buyers so they can understand the physical condition of the home. Although some sellers will get a pre-listing inspection to point out items that need to be handled before the home goes on the market. We address seller preparation at the bottom of this post. Also five red flags of which you should aware.

Some items should always be examined.

Structure
The home’s “skeleton” should be able to stand up to weather, gravity, and the earth that surrounds it. Structural components include items such as the foundation and the framing.

Exterior
The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, doors, siding, trim, and surface drainage. They should also examine any attached porches, decks, and balconies.

Roofing
A good inspector will provide very important information about your roof, including its age, roof draining systems, buckled shingles, and loose gutters and downspouts. They should also inform you of the condition of any skylights and chimneys as well as the potential for pooling water.

Plumbing
They should thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate larger problems.

Electrical
You should be informed of the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating and air conditioning
The home’s vents, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. The inspector should be able to tell you the water heater’s age, its energy rating, and whether the size is adequate for the house. They should also describe and inspect all the central air and through-wall cooling equipment.

Interiors
Your inspector should take a close look at walls, ceilings and floors; steps, stairways, and railings; countertopsPreview and cabinets; and garage systems. These areas can reveal leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and more.

Ventilation/insulation
Inspectors should check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawl spaces. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Without proper ventilation, excess moisture can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces
They’re charming, but fireplaces can be dangerous if they’re not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel-burning appliances.

Five Red Flags

Tom Kraeutler of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated radio show on home improvement, points out some of the following home inspection red flags:

  1. Termites and pests: The sooner termites are detected, and steps can be taken to get rid of them, the better.
  2. Drainage issues: A home that has poor drainage can have wood rot and wet basements and crawlspaces, which can then lead to major mold growth.
  3. Mold: Pervasive mold growth may indicate an issue with improper ventilation issues and can also cause health issues to those living in the home.
  4. Faulty foundations: A cracked or crumbling foundation could be a very expensive repair.
  5. Wiring issues: Outdated wiring or overloaded circuits can pose a fire hazard.

Seller Preparation for Home Inspections

David R. Leopold, owner of Pillar to Post Home Inspection in Fairfield County, Conn., says home sellers and their real estate professionals have an important role in preparing for a home inspection to help ensure it goes smoothly. Leopold offers up some of the following tips in an article in RISMedia (April 16, 2013), including:

  1. Don’t hide what isn’t working: If an appliance isn’t working, leave a note that indicates what isn’t working and how you’re getting it fixed. Don’t try to conceal defects because it can make the inspector start to view you as dishonest and wonder what else you’re hiding.
  2. Make things accessible: Ensure the location of the attic and crawlspace are identified and easy to access. Don’t make a home inspector move your belongings in order to gain access.
  3. Check the lightbulbs: If a lightbulb isn’t working, the inspector will need to determine if the fixture is inoperable. Save them time by making sure all the lightbulbs in the home operate, including those in the crawlspace, attic, and furnace rooms.
  4. Note septic systems: If you have a septic system in the yard, be sure to leave a sketch that includes the location of it. It’ll avoid home inspectors, buyers, and real estate professionals having to conduct prolonged searches for it, Leopold says.
  5. Keep appliances clear: Don’t leave dirty laundry in the washing machine or dryer because the inspector will need to test the appliances, and he doesn’t want to have to pull out dirty clothes in front of everybody, Leopold says. “Also, make sure your oven and stovetop are clear and clean, so we can easily test them without setting off the smoke alarm,” he adds.
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