ABCs of Home Inspections
A home inspection in a non-invasive, visual inspection of all the systems that make a home safe and comfortable to live in. Home inspectors don’t tinker with or fix problems they encounter, during or after an inspection. Inspection reports are documented with text and photos by inspectors who possess special training, certifications and in most states, a license to carry out home inspections. At the moment, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming do not require licenses to perform home inspections.
Your inspection will cover the home’s heating and central air system, roof, attic, exterior surfaces, electrical and plumbing system in additional to walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, decking, along with your basement or crawl space. If an area can’t be accessed or conditions aren’t safe, they’ll let you know they weren’t able to evaluate them and why.
The cost of home inspections is negotiated between the client and inspector. Generally, the home inspector will require the customers to read and sign an agreement that covers the extent of the inspection and its limitations. Inspectors advocate for their clients and respond to any questions associated with their inspection and report. Just as inspectors provide a limited range of inspection services, they also state the limits to their liability in their agreement.
Whenever possible, inspections are carried out with the clienst present. As the inspector moves about the house and property, they provide lots of information on what they’re seeing and reporting on. The inspection is the homeowner’s introduction to the technical aspect and systems installed in the house and will serve the new owners well into the future. During an inspection, the client will learn where all the major shut offs, filters and controls are. Houses don’t pass or fail an inspection, even a brand new house will likely have items to point out, though hopefully not severe.
Inspectors have a system for carrying out their inspections and work hard to maintain it. This ensures a thorough and complete review of the house takes place. It usually takes from 2 to 3 hours to conduct most home inspections. The inspector will meet you at the home and generally start outside by walking around the house once or twice in different directions. There’s lots to take in and approaching things from two different angles exposes more aspects of the structure. Moving to the interior of the home can be a bit distracting for buyers because it’s easy to get sidetracked with planning decorating or other changes. It’s best to stay close to the inspector and allow them to share all the knowledge you’re paying for. It will definitely come in handy well into the future. If you’re a seller and considering a pre-listing home inspection, see our article here.
Radon is a colorless, orderless gas that that exists in nature. The EPA recommends that action should be taken to reduce a home’s radon levels if a radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. pCi/L stands for picocurries per liter or air. Long term exposure to radon in homes, schools and other structures at certain levels has been found to cause lung cancer. Depending on where you live, it might be standard for the inspector to conduct a radon test, which is an additional expense. There are several tools to do this and they will describe their approach and the equipment they use. If a home is found to have dangerous levels of radon, there are companies that install systems to reduce concentration.
Generally, your home inspection will be a great way to understand the major systems installed in your home and whether there are items that need to be addressed before or after the sale takes place. Depending on what’s uncovered, you may decide to have your agent contact the seller’s representative to discuss either correcting issues or making an allowance available to you that covers some or all of the cost for the fix.