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.
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.
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.
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.
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