Thursday, July 30, 2015

One Size Doesn’t Fit All When It Comes To Your House

Every residential real estate transaction should have the benefit of an inspection. What most people don’t know is that these general inspections do not cover everything that may be on the property or a particular problem with the property!

There are many additional type of inspections, but not all of these inspections will be applicable to your house. It is important to know what inspections fit with your house or area.

So how am I supposed to know what I don’t know?

Let’s take a look at some additional inspections that both buyers and sellers should know about. This list will give you an idea of what may be applicable to your property. In some states, sellers are responsible for providing some of these reports. You should check with your municipality, county and/or state to determine what is required in your area.

Additional Types of Inspections

Insects and Arachnids

Termites are a particular concern and can be located anywhere in North America (though generally not in Alaska). 

There are two basic types: subterranean and drywood termites that can affect your structure.

If you suspect there may be termite activity in or around your house, a termite specialist will need to identify the species to effectively treat an infestation.

Carpenter ants can also be particularly damaging to wood structures. While they do not eat wood as termites do, they do nest in wood and may not be readily visible. An inspector can verify common locations for these pests.

Spiders, (regular) ants, cockroaches, wasps, hornets and scorpions can also be infestations (depending on your location) that most pest control providers can identify and provide control.

Rodents or Other Vermin

Depending on your state and location (rural, suburban or even urban), your municipality or county may require rodent inspections.

It may be wise to have your own inspection if there is any evidence of rodent droppings. 

Rodents not only can cause serious damage to your property, they are a serious health risk. They can bite, carry disease, and can contaminate food and air with excrement.


If there are signs of mold in the house, or if the general inspection discovers evidence, a separate mold inspection may be required. A good mold inspector will ask about the history of the home, including any past water damage, and then check for various spores and moisture levels. 

Mold inspectors have special equipment like moisture meters and fiber optics. This allows them to find spots where mold is likely growing and look at hidden areas such as behind walls.


While using lead paint was banned in 1978, that doesn’t mean that it's not lurking under some renovated finish. It could have been applied after that date by an unscrupulous contractor or owner. Usually not a concern in newer construction, inspection may be wise for historical houses. 

Surface samples are tested, either on site with a portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF), or collected and sent to a laboratory recognized by the EPA.


If your house was built before 1975, there is a good chance that there may be asbestos present. It was used as thermal insulation in basements, but could also be found elsewhere – such as window caulk or attic insulation. 

Asbestos in not considered dangerous unless it is disturbed. 

An inspector can asses any potential presence and make recommendations for removal.


Any major foundation settling issues may need inspection by a Foundation or Structural Engineer. 

This inspection will look at any settling, cracks or change in function of doors and windows and offer recommendations to repair or manage any concerns. 

Slabs, posts and concrete composition may be investigated.


A general inspection will offer a general evaluation of the roof. If there are roof issues, a separate inspection and estimate will be necessary. 

The type of roof – whether it is flat or sloped and the material used – will determine the specialist to contact. 

The inspection should include visible damage, external structural components and interior roofing components.


If your house had a fireplace, a chimney inspection may be required. 

A chimney inspector can make sure the flue liners and inside bricks are in good shape and that smoke is exiting the house properly. 

They may determine creosote buildup, or recommend a cleaning.


If the house has had numerous renovations or is a historical house, an electrical inspection may be required to verify that everything is up to code.

In addition to checking the panel, the inspection may look at the wiring and junctions throughout the house.


A soil inspection may be necessary if your house is on unstable ground, such as a hill side. 

Soil erosion could lead to potential issues such as a landslide. 

If the ground is flat, an inspection may be ordered if the potential buyer plans to garden. This may be the case if your house is near a business that had underground tanks, such as a gas station.


An Arborist may be called to inspect any large trees for safety or proximity to structures. 

Overhanging branches may be evaluated for strength - particularly if they are over roof, play area or a parking area.

If there are any signs of disease or infestation, an arborist can determine if the tree(s) can be saved, or if cutting is recommended.


Pool and spa inspections tend not to be included in a general inspection because of specialized training involved. 

ASHI Standards of Practice (SOP) allow inspectors to disclaim pools. In markets where pool inspections are not expected as part of a home inspector’s services, disclaiming the pool may occur. If the pool is not included in the general inspection, a separate inspection may be ordered.

Septic System

A septic system should be inspected once a year and before the sale of a property. It is usually the responsibility of the seller.


A water test may be required if the house uses well water. This inspection may look for possible contaminants, such as sources of animal wastes and chemical products. If there is concern about the plumbing or solder, this may include tests for metal traces in the water if all plumbing is not accessible.

Water may also refer to drainage around the house. If the house is on a slope, there may be an inspection and testing to ensure adequate drainage during wet weather.


Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It is a carcinogen. Since radon can't be seen, smelled, or tasted, it can get into your home undetected through cracks, joints, drains or dirt floors, as well as other possible points of entry.

While there are home test kits available, if Radon is suspected, a certified radon mitigation professional may be a better choice to avoid any mistakes.

Meth Lab

While most residential home owners do not face this issue, there are areas where this type of inspection may be prudent. There is an increased and widespread use of homes, garages, sheds, even motor vehicles to manufacture illegal drugs, specifically methamphetamine. 

These are hazardous waste sites, requiring evaluation, and cleanup, by hazardous waste (HazMat) professionals. If the property you are selling is in an eroding neighborhood or has fire damage or other tell-tale signs, a buyer may request this inspection.

If you suspect that any of these may be an issue complicating the sale of your house, it might be prudent to have the inspection before you have a buyer. Knowing the true condition of your house is always an advantage when it is on the market. Taking care of any major issues will make the purchase of your house a more appealing option to a buyer.

If you are concerned about a bad inspection, or you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t prepared, or if you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this summer, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. Contact me for details.

Next time we will look at how to find good contractors.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 
Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Linda  623-335-2662

Article Sources:

Lynda Bathory

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Good and Bad News of Bad Reviews

Inspections can be a nerve racking experience. It is difficult for any property owner to turn over their house to an inspector whose job is to be critical and look for trouble.

So what is an owner to do if the house inspection report they receive is bad?

If you knew that your house needed some updating or repairs, the report will probably not be a surprise. If you thought your place was in great shape, but the inspection stated otherwise, you will probably be in a state of shock or concern. It may be disappointing and even devastating depending on what was found. Don't despair.

The most important thing to remember is that if you really want to sell, there is no such thing as a bad report.

What?!? How can I possibly say that?!?

First of all, you must remember that inspectors are there to do a specific job. They do not have any ulterior motive. They are not “out to get you”. The report serves to describe your property with the most detail and best expertise possible.

If the report finds something you were not aware of, think of it as good news.


This woman is full of shiitakes!” You must be thinking. 

Well read on…

What To Do

The most important thing is to stay calm. Breathe and then do the following:

Step 1

Review the report and find the stuff you didn’t expect. Look at the house again with a critical eye. Is it right?

Step 2

Be very thankful that you are finding this out before escrow from an inspector rather than an attorney’s letter following the close. That’s right! You probably just averted an ugly, ugly lawsuit!

Step 3

WAIT. Wait to see if the buyer has a reaction. That’s right! What you may be freaking out about may not even matter to them!

Wait and see how the buyer will react. That uncertainty is the worst part, for sure. There are two basic outcomes of a bad inspection. At the very least, you might have to deal with a request for repairs or some other renegotiation. The worst possible case is that your buyer will back out.

Request For Repairs

If your buyer comes back to you with a list of repairs, DON’T REACT! Do NOT be confrontational!!!

Take time to consider the list and see what is on it. It probably will not be everything in the report. There are several ways to work this out.

Price Reduction

Reduce the price of your house and move on with your life. Let the seller do the repairs.

Advantage: You no longer have to deal with the property.

Disadvantage: The seller will typically want to improve as well as repair. The estimates may be high. This reduces the money that you will receive.


Offer to do all the repairs on the list and keep the price of the house the same.

Advantage: You stay in control of the work. You get to approve the contractors and the costs.

Disadvantage: Typically the buyer knows that you will go for the lowest possible bid with the lowest quality work and materials. They may find this option unattractive.

You will be spending your last days in your house… fixing it for someone else.


There may be some work you can do yourself and other work that needs to get hired out.

Advantage: You can arrange a compromise with the buyer and make this a win-win negotiation. Typically this will avert any future legal action on their part.

Disadvantage: The more work needs to be done, the longer and harder it is to come to a fair compromise. The buyer may get frustrated and back out.

Worst Case Scenario

Your buyer is overwhelmed by the information in the report and backs out of the deal.

Advantage: If you didn’t get a seller’s inspection before putting your house up for sale, you have one now!

  • You can use this information to revise the listing – and revise the price.
  • You can do the repairs on the list – or in the whole report and stay firm on your price.

Disadvantage: You lost this buyer. Your plans to sell and move on may be delayed.

Above all, remember that you lost a buyer. You didn’t lose your house! Another will come along and now you have more knowledge than you did before. Consider you options. Maybe you will need to revise your game plan.

Whatever you do, don’t despair. Your house attracted one buyer and in time you will find another.

If you are concerned about a bad inspection, or you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t prepared, or if you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this summer, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. Contact me for details.

Next time we will conclude our look at inspections with a look at some atypical types of inspections.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 
Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Inspection Expectations

Everyone knows that a home inspection is part of the process when buying a house. The type and extent of the inspection will depend on who requested it. Some savvy sellers have an inspection conducted before they put their house up for sale. Typically, once both parties have agreed to the conditions of purchase, the buyer usually has a set period of time (5-10 business days) to arrange an inspection and consider the report.

But What Exactly Does An Inspector Inspect?

There are several key areas which are important to evaluate during a building inspection. Typically a professional inspector will look for areas of concern that the general public may not be familiar with. In addition, a thorough inspection will also look for “hidden defects” – those things which may take more skill, or some deconstruction to review.

Home inspectors have standards of practice that serve as a minimum level of care required by the various associations. Many inspectors exceed these standards within their basic inspection or offer additional services such as inspecting pools, sprinkler systems, thermal imaging, checking radon levels, and inspecting for wood destroying organisms.

Here is a brief overview of what generally happens. Check with inspectors in your area to see what is and isn’t included and to find inspectors that offer any additional services you may require.

The Stages

The stages of the inspection are fairly straight forward.  The inspector does a visual inspection of the exterior, the interior and specific systems.

General Impression

The inspector will consider the area the house is located in, and the general condition. Depending on the inspector and any association they may belong to, the inspector  may note anything in the immediate neighborhood that might impact the home, such as power lines, proximity to transportation (such as railways), and any industry.


Typically an inspection will start with the exterior of the house. A good inspector will go up on the roof and examine it for any current or potential problems. They will look at framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing and gutters. 

They look for weather damage, unusual wear, pooling (in the case of flat roofs) and the general condition of the materials. 

From this information and the age of the roof, a replacement date may be projected. 

It does not include a guarantee of roof condition or a roof certification.

The other major area of concern is the foundation of the building. The inspector will examine exterior walls for any signs for cracks or settling. They may also examine cracks in surrounding paths or drives for signs of shifting or heaving.

The exterior inspection should include all wall covering, landscaping, grading, elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, fascia, trim, doors, windows, lights and exterior electrical receptacles. They may also look at any other issues on the exterior that require attention, such as rotting wood, overhanging tree branches, drainage, signs of infestation and so on.


In the interior of the house, an inspector will review many categories, based on general impression and also inspection. Some of these categories include, but are not limited to:

Cracks, Bows And Dips

An inspector will look for any cracks in the walls that may indicate structural issues.

If there are cracks inside but not outside (or the reverse) an inspector will look for cause and also any signs of repairs made to try to cover-up any issues.

He will review any dips in the ceiling or floors. 

He may check to see the floor is level to check for any foundation support issues.

He may not investigate the reason for any bows or checks in the walls, but will at least note them.

Doors and windows

The inspection would ensure that all doors and windows function as intended. They will verify that any house settling has not caused impairment of mechanisms, such as locks no longer working properly, windows not sliding or door bottoms scraping . A good inspector will also verify the number of screens or storm windows if these are not installed at the time of inspection.

Plumbing and Electrical

The inspector will determine the type of plumbing (copper, PVC, ABS, galvanized metal, etc.) potable, drain, waste and vent pipes. The will look at fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom, evaluate water pressure and check for broken items and leaks. If there is a water heater with a tank, it would be checked for age and leaks.  Tankless systems would also be inspected for ventilation, drainage and function. Typically, it does not include a sewer inspection, although some inspectors will send a camera through the main drain to view it from the inside.

The inspection will include a verification of the breaker panel and evaluation as to the load on the number of breakers present and grounding. The panel would also be checked for any improperly exposed elements, such as exposed wires or missing panel covers. The inspection would also make a determination as to the material of the wiring (copper or aluminum) within the house, and if it is consistent throughout. In addition, the inspector will examine exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures.


Water damage can occur in several basic ways. Depending on where you live, an inspector will pay close attention to leaks from rain on the ceilings and walls, water from leaking pipes, fixtures or appliances, damage from flooding or sewer back ups and moisture in the basement (if you have one).

Mold, Mildew or Poor Ventilation

An inspection will review any major unexpected odors in the house that would be caused by mold or mildew. Part of this may include inspection for rot or mold, but this may depend on the state you live in.

If there is a natural gas system, it will be inspected for any leaking. Depending on the buyer and geographical location, they may also do an energy audit to check for drafts and heat or cooling efficiency. The attic and any basement or crawlspace would be inspected for damage and level of insulation.

Furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, fireplace and sprinklers should all be reviewed.

A more recent technology for this type of inspection uses thermal imaging with an infrared camera to get information on structural heat loss, moisture leaks. It can also be used to check electrical wiring overheating conditions that are not normally detectable during a visual inspection.


While the buyer may wish to check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and week to check for noise in the environment, such as late night parties or loud vehicles, an inspector will generally concern themselves with any noise inside the house.

Typically, an inspector will notice knocking pipes for plumbing or heating systems and excessive humming or grinding from HVAC systems. 

Noise from appliances, especially if they are older may be of note to the inspector. If the floors creak more than what would be considered normal, the inspector may investigate the structure underneath it. 

He may investigate the garage door opener noise level, too.


Dishwasher, range and oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal and, yes, even smoke detectors. They may also look at the fridge, washer and dryer, or at least electrical connections and ventilation and drainage.


An inspector may (depending on the area) look for infestations in the house. Typical concerns are ants, termites, scorpions, spiders or rodents.


The garage will have its own review for the slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights, receptacles, exterior, windows and roof.


If there are signs of renovations, the inspector may try to determine if these were the result of improvements or if they were an attempt to hide an existing problem with the house. For example if the house is completely freshly painted after a known flood, the inspector may investigate further to see if there was hidden water damage and subsequent mold issues. In addition, the inspector may verify that work was properly permitted and that the new owners will not have any issues with the municipality for the work done.

Non Included Areas

Pool And Spa Inspection

A typical inspector will often exclude swimming pools and from a general home inspection because they require special training and require additional time to inspect and report.

Inaccessible Areas

A typical inspection will not include, for obvious reasons, the insides of the walls. If there are concerns about mold, insulation or infestations, a buyer would have to make arrangements with the seller to open up the walls and do a visual inspection or use a scope.

Estimates For Repairs

An inspection will describe any irregularities in the condition of the house, but the report will not include any estimates. If roof or chimney repairs would be indicated, an inspector would not go into detail as to the extent of repair needed, since more damage may be discovered as layers are removed. The buyer would have to consult the appropriate contractors to get estimates.

Septic Systems

Septic systems are not included during a building inspection. Normally the seller must disclose their inspection schedule and a buyer may request an inspection if one has not been done in the last year.

Wells And Water Quality

Wells and water quality would not be covered under a normal inspection.

Additional Exterior Structures

Any exterior structures such as sheds, work spaces or additional detached garages may not be included.

While these inspections may seem like unnecessary stress, they can offer the buyer and seller peace of mind. The buyer knows exactly what they are purchasing and the seller can know that they will be leaving without facing any legal responsibilities down the road.

A good inspector will be respectful and unobtrusive as possible during the tour.

But what happens when things go wrong?

If you are concerned about a bad inspection, or you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t prepared, or if you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this summer, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. Contact me for details.

Next time we will take a look at what to do if you receive a bad inspection report.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 
Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Linda  623-335-2662

Article Sources: