Learning About Home Inspections
Did you know 85% of home buyers request a home inspection? I think it’s safe to say, taking this step during the home buying process is extremely important, and that goes for both new construction and older homes. Doing so before taking ownership may save you a grip in the long run.
- What Is a Home Inspection?
- Items Covered in a Home Inspection
- Other Recommended Inspections
- Home Inspections and New Construction
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home. Any part of the property considered to be accessible will be examined.
Before going any further, one thing must be explained. Home inspectors are not to be confused with municipal or county inspectors. These inspectors are only looking for code violations and have low-quality standards as they’re only looking for the minimum requirements.
Although it may take two to four hours to inspect a home, the overall time to complete will depend on the home’s size. Within 24 to 48 hours, you will finally receive an inspection report. This will give you a general overview of the overall condition of the property. Pictures and repair recommendations will also be included in the report.
Even though being present as the buyer is not a must, it is recommended. This will allow you to ask questions directly to the inspector while getting a better understanding of the home.
Items Covered in a Home Inspection
There are thirteen main items covered during a home inspection.
- Structural components
Other Recommended Inspections
There are “specialized” items or issues a regular home inspection does not cover. These kinds of specialized examinations will cover areas and problems that are not considered to be easily assessable. Although these added inspections cost more money upfront, buyers may also save a ton later.
- Radon Inspection and Mitigation Test
- EIFS (Interior Insulation and Finish System)
- Lead-based paint
- Mold Inspection
- Sewer Inspection
- Termite Inspection
- Roof Inspection
Radon Inspection and Mitigation Test
Radon is a cancer-causing-radioactive soil gas, and to make matters worse, radon cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. It is a naturally occurring product of Uranium with a radioactive life of about 3.8 days. This radioactive gas typically moves up from the ground into the air above.
Cracks and holes in the foundation are what allows it to get trapped inside. Once radon gets inside of the home, it continues to build up. Not only can radon enter through the foundation, but also the water well of a home.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The EPA states that around 21,000 people per year lose their lives to radon-related cancer.
In my state of Virginia, nearly 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. have elevated radon levels in 46 high-risk counties.
Fortunately, the market I serve as a Realtor is in one of the 26 low-risk counties, meaning all of Williamsburg, Virginia is indeed a low-risk zone for radon.
It should be noted that radon does not discriminate. This harmful gas can be an issue with any type of home, regardless of its age or features. Thankfully, it is not very often that building materials cause radon related issues.
EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) Inspection
EIFS became a modern feature of homes and buildings in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, it has experienced a significant number of failures. Failures of such are almost related to rain penetration.
EIFS is very defective and unfit for use as an exterior cladding system. The moisture-sensitive components lack the provisions for draining and drying. However, the typical system does also have moisture system materials.
This type of paint is usually found in homes built before 1978, which the federal government banned the same year.
As long as the paint isn’t chipping, cracking, or formulated into dust particles, it is safe. On the other hand, if it is deteriorating by the methods mentioned above, it has become hazardous. If any one of those characteristics is seen, the EPA states it needs immediate attention.
Lead-based paint may also cause numerous health defects. Low-level exposure may cause learning disabilities and behavioral issues in children. High levels of exposure may cause lead poisoning, anemia, or an impaired brain and nervous system.
- Beneath the sinks of kitchens and bathrooms
- Underneath or behind refrigerators
- HVAC units
- Hidden beneath the carpet
Of course, these are not the only places mold can grow. Anywhere there is a mixture of moisture and heat, mold may become present.
The CDC says the presence of mold may cause coughing and wheezing. This can also worsen your asthma symptoms if you have any. Overall, it does not matter how healthy you are. Similar to radon, health defects caused by a sort of fungus does not discriminate.
First and foremost, tree roots are one of the most common causes of faulty sewer lines.
Other intrusions to sewer lines may include the following below:
- Ground shifting
- Low-quality pipe materials
- Poor insulation
The above are all excellent reasons to get a sewage inspection, especially if the home you’re looking to buy is over 20-years old. Once again, home inspectors usually do not inspect sewer lines because they are not visible or assessable.
This type of inspection will examine the sewer lines and other underground pipes. The process of a sewer inspection will consist of checking for any minor or major issues.
First, the inspector will attach a specialized camera to a flexible borescope and run the camera through the home’s sewage pipes. Simultaneously, the camera will convey images and a video to the computer or tablet in use. Generally speaking, a sewage inspection will take about an hour to complete.
While the cost to order this type of inspection is minimal, the cost to repair sewer issues can range from $10,000 to $20,000.
So, would you rather be safer than sorry and just pay a few hundred bucks for a sewer inspection? Or would you instead hope and pray nothing goes wrong and spend tens of thousands of dollars later? For all you know, you may be able to prevent such an expensive mishap from happening by taking immediate action in the first place.
Contrary to their size, the destruction termites can cause is massive. Damage from termites cost homeowners a total average of $5 billion per year in the U.S, and the average cost of repairs is $8,000.
Terminix stated, in extreme cases, the cost to repair termite damage can exceed the value of a home. While obtaining homeowners insurance is commonly required by lenders, a termite inspection will be needed.
Insurance companies may require a termite inspection, but that depends on the policy. It is crucial to note that most insurance companies will not insure damage caused by termites. To answer your question “why,” damage to such is considered to be preventative maintenance.
Yes, a home inspector will cover the roof, but that’s all he will do.
A roof inspector, in particular, will look for the following:
- Missing and loose materials
Getting a roof inspection will allow buyers and lenders to get a clear picture of the roof’s condition. In fact, over 87% of roofs inspected need repairs.
Home Inspections and New Construction
Some may feel as if new construction homes do not need to undergo a home inspection, but in reality, that is far from the truth. Their newness doesn’t void them of any issues; however, their problems will differ from an older home.
For instance, there could be many amounts of code of violations. Violations may consist of lousy wiring, warped floors, and improperly installed utility systems.
As I stated earlier, local government inspectors do not guarantee good quality of craftsmanship. Nor are they able to verify that the home has been built to code. Government inspectors are looking to see if specific minimum standards have been met.
Mr. Rueben Saltzman, president of Structure Tech Home Inspections, solidifies the truth. He has found “egregious defects with every trade in new construction.” Reuben also shared his discovery of a contractor not installing insulation in the attic. “The code inspectors missed it,” Reuben said.
His company Structure Tech Home Inspections is based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the winter months, temperatures can average below freezing or 32° F. Needless to say, failure to install insulation in the attic is a big no-no.
It is also recommended to get two home inspections with new construction instead of one. Your first home inspection should be before the walls are put up, and the last one should be after the home has been finished.
My broker expressed the importance of a home inspection with new construction. A tree was beginning to grow in the crawlspace of her daughter’s newly built home! I’m pretty confident the days of her daughter wanting a treehouse are over with. Or if her daughter wouldn’t mind to have one, at least not by the force of nature.