Buyers Home Inspections

December 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Buyers Home Inspections

Buyers Home Inspections

Buying a home is very important. When you go look at the prospective home, you should take a home inspection checklist so you remember important things to check out. Your real estate agent should be able to give you a list of the types of home inspections that are generally conducted in your area. This article will give you a few items that should be on your home inspection checklist.

Does a Home Inspector check every thing in the house?

A general Home Inspection does not include specific items that require a specialist to examine. For example, a home inspector might measure the differential temperature reading from an air conditioning unit, find it low and suggest the A/C be inspected by an HVAC specialist. The inspector may have an idea of what is wrong, but is probably unqualified to take it apart and diagnose the problem. General Home Inspectors look for defects. If they spot something unusual that lies outside of their scope of professional experience, they will suggest that you obtain a more specialized inspection.

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Here are the types of Home Inspections:

Roof
One of the first things that should be on your home inspection checklist is the roof. You should check that the roof is level and doesn’t sag. You should also make sure there are no water puddles on the roof as that could be a sign that there is improper drainage. It’s also a good idea┬áto check for previous repairs that may show trouble spots.


Wiring
Wiring should also be on your home inspection checklist. You need to check for obvious problems with the wiring, such as frayed or exposed wires. Also make sure that all electrical outlets have undamaged covers. One final thing to check is the existence of a breaker box instead of fuses. The breaker box should also be labeled properly.


Windows/Doors
Doors and windows are two of the most important items on your home inspection checklist. The doors should be in good shape and have locks that work properly. They also shouldn’t be misaligned. The windows should all have screens and be free from broken glass. You also need to check to make sure that the windows don’t stick when you open or close them.



Hazards
Before you buy a home, you need to find out if it is prone to hazards. Make sure it isn’t in a region that is susceptible to earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes. You should also check to see if it is located in a flood plain or other flood-risk region. One final thing to check for is a record of hazardous water or soil conditions on or near the site.


Wood Destroying Pests
Another item that should be on your home inspection checklist is the existence of damaging pests. There are a few insects that destroy the wood in homes. Termites and wood-boring beetles destroy wood by using it as food. Carpenter ants and bees weaken the wood by burrowing deep inside it for shelter. Make sure none of these pests are already causing problems before you buy the home.

Heating and Air Conditioning

With most furnaces, you have to take it apart to determine if the heat exchanger is cracked, for example, or to find out why the furnace is malfunctioning. An HVAC specialist can tell you what’s wrong, how much it will cost to fix it and whether it needs to be replaced

Chimney

Some older chimneys don’t have flue liners or the brick inside the chimney may be crumbling. A chimney inspector will also make sure smoke is discharged properly.

Lead-Based Paint

The federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978, but homes newer than 1978 can still contain lead-based paint. You have the right to have the home tested for lead-based paint. To remove lead-based paint, hire a certified lead abatement contractor.

Square Footage

You may want to verify the square footage of your home. Because public records are input by humans, mistakes can happen. You can Calculate Square Footage yourself or hire an appraiser.

Foundation

While a home inspector can tell you if your home was built on a slab or raised foundation, a foundation engineer can tell you if the home is sliding or the foundation is faulty.

Soil Stability

Testing the soil is important if you’re buying a home on the side of a hill, because you don’t want it sliding away during a rainstorm. Some areas also are prone soil contamination.

Sewer or Septic System Inspection

Many older homes may not be connected to a sewer system. Get a sewer inspection. Modern technology calls for a digital camera to be inserted into the sewer line and pushed through to the main line.

Arborist

The best way to determine if the trees on the property are healthy is to hire an arborist to inspect them.

Easements and Encroachments

Your owner’s title policy will disclose easements, but some encroachments may require a physical inspection. Ask the title company to send you the actual easement documents from the public records.

Lot Size and Boundaries

A preliminary search for a title policy will give you a plat map, showing the boundaries and size of the lot. If you want this information verified, you may want to hire a surveyor.

Pool and Spa

Pool and spa experts can give you an estimated life expectancy on crucial key components such as the heater or spa blower. They will also check for leaks.

Water Systems and Plumbing

If the plumbing is galvanized, a plumber can tell you if it needs to be replaced. Some galvanized pipes are so clogged that you can barely fit the lead of a pencil through it.

Well

Inspect the construction of the well and find out the depth of the water table, including water sanitation.

Asbestos

The only way to tell if a material actually contains asbestos is have it tested. Taking a sample to a lab is preferred over do-it-yourself home tests.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable gas used as a chemical in building products. It’s known to cause cancer in rats.

Mold

Mold can trigger health problems in even healthy individuals. There are many different types of mold. You can test for mold in the home by testing air quality.

Permits and Zoning

Go to your city planning department and ask to see the permits on the home. Sometimes people remodel without permits. The zoning department can tell you, for example, if it’s legal to run a home-based business from your home.

Radon Testing

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you complete radon remediation if the levels of radon in your home are above 4pCi/L. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the average radon levels in many Pittsburgh homes are well above this average and would require action to reduce radon levels. For example, homes in Squirrel Hill have an average radon level of 5pCi/L and homes in McCandless have an average radon level of 7.8pCi/L. High levels of radon can be found in even the most expensive Pittsburgh homes as homes in Sewickley have an average radon level of 7.1pCi/L and homes in Fox Chapel have an average radon level of 8.4pCi/L.

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