When you need a home inspection, you want to make sure you get a good one here in the Fairhope area. First, you need to know what a good home inspection is. Then you need to know how to find a home inspector who can, and will, give you the home inspection that serves you well. And last, you want to know how much you should pay for this quality home inspection by a good home inspector.
Seller's Home Inspection
Are you buying a home? Buying a home is probably the most complicated (and important) purchase most of us will make in our lifetime. Like any major purchase there are features and specifications for all homes. On paper it may be the features that sell the home but if any of those features are in disrepair, you might be signing up for more than you bargained for and getting less than you paid for.
When you're purchasing a home, you need to know what you're getting. There are a few ways you can help protect yourself -- one of them is with a thorough home inspection. Hiring a qualified home inspection company to take a look at the home you're interested in buying is very important. At the same time, you need to understand what's involved with a home inspection so years after your purchase, you can keep up with the maintenance of your home. Here's why...
When you are buying a home it is important that you understanding what's involved with a home inspection. It can pay dividends for the rest of the time you own your house.
First, it's important to note that some things are not covered in a standard home inspection:
* Pests - Pest inspections require a licensed pest control specialist to perform inspections of building structures to determine damage or possibility of damage from pests.
* Radon -- Radon gas is an invisible, odorless gas produced by the normal breakdown of uranium in the soil.
* Lead paint - Inspecting a home for lead-based paint is not typically included in a home inspection because it takes place over several days and requires special equipment.
* Mold - Mold inspection is a separate inspection because it requires three separate air samples and surface sample analysis. Since mold inspection is beyond the scope of a traditional home inspection, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a mold inspection.
* Asbestos - Asbestos is generally outside the scope of a home inspection because asbestos requires its own thorough review. Like with mold inspections, be sure to specifically ask your home inspector if he or she would recommend a separate asbestos inspection.
* Orangeberg Sewer Pipe -- Also known as "fiber conduit", Orangeberg Sewer Pipe is bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. It was used from the 1860s through the 1970s, when it was replaced by PVC pipe for water delivery and ABS pipe for drain-waste-vent (DWV) applications.
The first thing to point out is that every home and home buyer are different which means that every home inspection is different and the importance of home inspection items are different. Below are some common things that are inspected during a home inspection. Keep in mind that some items in this checklist may not be necessary for your particular home - and that this list does not include all the item inspected by a professional home inspection service.
General Home Inspection Checklist
Lot and Neighborhood
* Does the grade slope away from the home or towards the home
* Are there any areas where the soil has settled near the foundation or driveway?
* What is the elevation of the home in relation to the street and neighbors?
* Is the peak of the roof straight and level? Or is there sagging?
* What is the condition of the roof vents? Are they visible?
* Are there gaps between flashing and chimneys, walls or other parts of the roof?
* Is there sagging anywhere else on the roof such as between the rafters or trusses?
* What kind of shingles are used? How much deterioration has set in such as curling, warping, broken shingles or wider gaps between shingles in the roof?
* Is the chimney square to the home and level? Or is it leaning?
* What is the condition of the bricks? Are any bricks flaking or missing?
* What is the condition of the mortar? Is it cracked, broken or missing entirely?
* Is the siding original to the house? If not, how old is the siding and how is it holding up?
* Are the walls square and level or bowed, bulged or leaning
* What material is the siding? Brick, wood or plastic?
* What condition is the siding in?
* Is there loose, missing, rotten or deteriorated siding or paint?
* How does the siding fit connect to the foundation?
Soffits and Fascia
* What are the soffits and fascia made of? Common materials include wood, aluminum or plastic?
* Are there any problems such as rotting or broken pieces?
* Are there any missing pieces of soffit or fascia?
Gutters and Downspouts
* Are there any leaks or gaps in gutters or downspouts?
* Does the gutter slope toward downspouts?
* Is there any rust or peeling paint?
* Are all gutters and downspouts securely fastened?
* Is there a sufficient separation of the downspouts from the foundation?
Doors and Windows
* Are there any problems with paint, caulking or rotten wood?
* Are the windows original to the home? If not, how old are they?
Decks or Porches
* What is the porch or deck made of? Check for paint problems, rotted wood and wood-earth contact.
* Is there any settlement or separation from the house?
* If possible, inspect the underside of the porch or deck.
* Are there any cracks, flaking or damaged masonry?
* Are there any water markings and powdery substances on the foundation? If so where are they located?
* Are the walls square vertically and horizontally? Or bowed, bulged or leaning?
* Is there any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, powdery substances, loose tiles, etc.)
* Is there any deterioration of flooring or carpet?
* Are there any cracks in the tiles or mortar?
* Do you notice any water damage or stains from previous water damage?
* Is there any sagging or sloped flooring?
* Check that the majority of windows and doors work.
* Are the walls square and vertically and horizontally straight?
* Is there any cracked or loose plaster?
* Look for stains, physical damage or evidence of previous repair.
* Are there any drywall seams or nails showing?
* Review all plaster for cracks or loose or sagging areas.
* Are there any stains from water or mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair?
* Are there any seams or nails showing?
Kitchens and Bathrooms
* Check that all fixtures are secure including sinks, faucets, toilets and cabinetry
* Are there any cracks in the fixtures?
* What is the condition of the tiles and caulking surrounding sinks and tub and shower areas?
* What is the condition of the faucets? Do they work? Is there sufficient water pressure?
* Check under countertops for any water stains or rotting materials.
* Check that the majority of the cabinet doors and drawers are in working order.
Electrical and Mechanical
* Type, style and age of heating and cooling systems with service history.
* Type, age and condition of water supply piping and drains.
* Size and age of electrical service -- Are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condition?
The Importance of a Home Inspection Professional
As you can see, the home inspection checklist is exhaustive (and this list doesn't even cover it all!) So if you're in the market for a new house or are in the process of purchasing a new home, make sure you have a home inspection done by a reliable home inspection company - so you can protect yourself from the unforeseen. Also periodically review the items on this home inspection checklist so you can ensure the working order of your home for years to come.
Seller's Home Inspection
If you have bought or sold a home, you might have experienced an independent home inspection. This type of home inspection is designed to provide both buyers and sellers with critical information about the health of the home's systems - heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, water tightness, roof condition, and safety. This type of inspection is highly detailed and provides a wealth of information on the home. While this type of inspection is not required, it can help buyers avoid a "money pit" and can help sellers understand what things might turn buyers away.
A friend wrote me recently to say that they bought a house and had expected the home inspector to look for termites. After they moved in, they decided to remodel. They discovered that termites had completely eaten the wood structure in 3 walls.
I told them that one of the things home inspectors do not do is inspect for pests, since they are not qualified to identify them. Pest control professionals are qualified to find pest infestations, and should be called in before the purchase. Most of the time your real estate agent will suggest what inspections you should be getting to protect yourself.
This got me thinking about home inspection myths. Here are the top 6 myths.
* Home inspectors inspect for termites. Myth! Unfortunately for the couple above who believed this, repairs were very expensive.
* You should not attend the inspection on the home you are buying, because it will disturb the inspector. Myth! Inspectors appreciate their clients attending the inspection and know they can fully communicate the issues with them. Sometimes written reports do not explain everything fully. If the clients are out of town and cannot attend the inspection, they should hold a conference call to discuss report items as soon as practical after the report is completed.
* The seller is responsible for fixing everything the inspector finds wrong. Myth! Repairs, even serious ones, are negotiable. The sellers may be able to back out of a deal, however, if the inspector discovers serious defects.
* New construction requires an independent home inspection to get the Certificate of Occupancy. Myth! New construction does require progressive inspections by the municipal building inspector for safety and code enforcement. If you are moving into a newly constructed home, I personally would recommend an independent home inspection also, as it will catch many loose ends.
* If the home's appraisal is excellent, there can't be anything wrong with the home and you don't need another inspection. Myth! A home's appraisal is based on many factors, including market conditions, location, and materials (HardiePlank and granite countertops, for example) but does not inspect for systems actually working or structural integrity.
* A home inspection will take about 30 minutes. Myth! A thorough home inspection should take from 2-5 hours depending upon the size and complexity of the home. There are hundreds of inspection points on a home inspection, including walking the roof and crawling the crawlspace.
Now that you are the home inspection expert, you can try these questions on your friends and see how they do.
Home Inspection for Buyers
A thorough home inspection is one of the most important steps before purchasing a home, and many buyers try to skip this step only to end up regretting it later when problems become apparent. Your home is the place you go to get away from the world, and to relax and put your feet up, or spend time with your family and friends. You want to be reassured that the home you buy is safe and in good condition. A home inspection can give you this peace of mind, using a visual inspection of every aspect of the home both inside and out. This should be done by a professional home inspector who has the education, knowledge, and experience needed to identify problems which may not be readily apparent.
There are some questions you should ask any prospective home inspection company, and things to consider, to guarantee you get a thorough and complete inspection. How long has the inspector been doing these inspections? How many home inspections does the inspector do in a year? How much experience does the home inspector have inspecting homes identical to the one you are buying? These questions are important, because without adequate experience the inspector may miss signs of a hidden problem. Choose a home inspection company that exclusively does only home inspections, and does not just practice this as a sideline to their day job. Ask about the reports that will be given, will you get a written report, an oral report, or both? Does the home inspection company have certification? Do they have insurance?
Set up an appointment for the home inspection with both the seller and the home inspector. Make the appointment during the daytime, when there is plenty of daylight so that flaws and problems will be noticeable instead of hidden in shadows. Allow for at least two to three hours for the home inspection, and make sure you are present. Ask questions of the home inspector, and listen to the answers closely. Make sure that you contact the seller, and that they agree to the visit by the home inspector at the specified time and day. Give the home inspector the name, address, and phone number of the buyer, and the address and directions to the home being inspected, as well as any codes needed to access any lock box that may be installed.
If you need to reschedule the home inspection appointment, make sure to give the inspection company at least twenty four to forty eight hour notice before the appointment time, to avoid being charged. Make sure that all utilities are on at the home, including the electric and gas, and make sure that all appliances like the furnace and hot water heater are on and running. Arrange with the seller for the home inspector to have access to everything, including any attics, basements, garages, outbuildings, closets, and other areas. This will ensure a complete and thorough professional home inspection. Also make arrangements with the seller to make sure any furniture or stored belongings which may block access to electrical panels, access panels, and appliances are moved before the inspector arrives. Payment is expected after the home inspection is done, before the inspector leaves the home, so make sure to have a check or money order ready when the inspection is finished.
When looking at homes, do a personal inspection of each home to narrow down the list of possibilities. A professional home inspection should be done on the home you finally decide to purchase, but doing a personal inspection on each potential purchase will help you weed out the obvious bad choices and save you time and energy. Look for things like apparent cracks or shifts in the foundation, obvious electrical malfunctions, sockets that have scorch marks, signs of severe water damage or mold growth, evidence of leaks, both inside and outside the home, the overall condition and age of the roof, dampness or signs of flooding in the basement or crawlspace, and other signs of repairs that may be needed.
There are some things that a home inspection may not cover, depending on where you live and what company you use for the inspection. Most of the time these are referred to as third party testing services, and they can include water quality testing, radon testing, mold testing, air quality testing, and inspection for wood boring and eating insects like termites. All of these tests may be considered important, depending on what the home inspection shows and any problems that may have been detected by the home inspector. If there is visible mold then mold testing may be suggested, to ensure it is not a toxic strain of mold that can cause human disease and illness. If the water quality is suspect, water testing may be suggested to guarantee that there are no bacteria or other organisms that can sicken you. Radon testing should always be done to make sure this cancer causing gas is not present in the home, and the home inspection report may suggest this as well. A termite inspection could be ordered if the inspector finds evidence that these pests may be present, and posing a danger to the structure of the home by eating the wood. Air quality testing may be done if there is any reason to suspect that the air in the home may be harmful to occupants, and this can be due to mold, radon, or other harmful airborne irritants and pathogens.
Knowing what to expect during a thorough professional home inspection, and the tips to make this process more effective and efficient, can help you get a good idea on any flaws in the home before you make the purchase, without any doubt or confusion involved. This step should never be omitted, even though it may seem costly, because it can save you significantly if there are hidden defects and unseen flaws.