Although home inspections are not currently mandated, there are definite times when inspections should be performed. they should be done. The first company to offer home inspections went by the acronym HELPS, which stood for Home Equity Loss Protection Services. After Christopher Nolan, the pioneer of the home inspection business sold the company to a deceased professor’s wife by the name of Jane Garvey in the early 1980s, it was incorporated.
Because of Nolan’s tremendous insight into the need for a nationally recognized system whereby true value of real estate could be determined, home inspections have become not only popular but one of the best financial investments a potential homebuyer can make. Prior to the business of home inspections being developed, too many people were unpleasantly surprised with hit with hidden problems that cost thousands upon thousands of dollars to fix.
What is a Home Inspection?
In general terms, a home inspection involves a licensed professional with extensive training going through a property literally from ceiling to floor as a means of identifying potential and existing problems. Once an inspection is complete, a report disclosing everything found would be provided to the client. Now, there are actually two primary reasons a home inspection might be requested, as shown below.
- A seller who wants to get a property in pristine shape before listing it on the market
- Potential buyer who plans to use the information either for price negotiations or personal protection
Once completed, a home inspection might reveal a minor crack in a basement wall, serious structural problem, pest infestation, or appliances and systems nearing failure. A good inspector would look for small and big issues while covering every square inch of the property. Keep in mind, the level of detail provided in a home inspection report depends on the education, training, experience, and even dedication of the inspector but for the most part, all home inspectors provide much the same type and level of services.
Types and Benefits of Home Inspections
Although most people go with full home inspections, there are individual inspections that could be chosen as well based on the client’s need. Individual home inspections requested most often have been provided below:
Usually, this type of inspection would be for newly built homes in which a potential buyer can choose to have the property inspected by a licensed professional prior to going through closing. Performed within seven to ten days before a scheduled closing, this ensures everything outlined in a contract is in line.
New Construction Inspections
Again, home inspections of this kind are not required but highly recommended. Of course, a person buying or building a new home would need to complete an inspection with the builder since major components and systems would be protected by a warranty. In addition, builders will come back to make minor changes and repairs for a certain period according to the seller/buyer contract.
However, in parts of the country with a lot of new homes being built, hiring a professional to conduct a full home inspection would be a great investment. This would confirm that quality materials were used, that workmanship met or exceeded agreement and expectations, that no shortcuts were taken to reduce budget, and to find actual mistakes.
The purpose of this inspection is to make sure the home’s foundation, as well as all of the supporting elements is functional and safe. With this, distress indicators would be the primary focus
In addition to the home’s plumbing system being visually inspected, overall operation would also be carefully checked. During a plumbing inspection, fixtures, pipes, and various other components of this system would be checked for material defects or damage. Water would also be run to determine operation of pressure relief valves, venting, and temperature. Other things checked as part of this inspection include sewer and water supply systems.
A home inspection of this type involves heating ventilation and air conditioning. This too includes both visual observation and operation of both systems, as well as components that are easily accessible, looking for defects and/or damage that would require replacement or repair.
Vermiculite Insulation Inspections
In homes built prior to 1975, asbestos was commonly used for drywall and ceiling material. We now know that if asbestos is inhaled, it can lead to lung irritation problems or actual cancer. With this being such an extremely dangerous substance, potential homebuyers for older homes should definitely consider this as a standalone inspection or an add-on service for a full inspection.
Full Home Inspections
While individual inspections such as those mentioned above can be ordered by a client, most often a full home inspection is done. During the three to four hours of being on the property, a professional inspector would go through the entire home to include the attic, main portion of the home, basement, and everything in between. Typically, a visual inspection would be conducted first, followed by an in-depth inspection.
Remember, full home inspections cover both the interior and exterior of the structure. Because of this, the list of items included is extensive so we could only provide a few examples but these are excellent representatives of specific things checked.
- Roof, flashing, vents, and trim
- Skylights and chimney
- Decks, porches, and walkways
- Foundation, basement, and crawlspace
- Heating and air conditioning systems
- Water Heater
- Plumbing to include fixtures and faucets
- Electrical panels, fuses, and breakers
- Fireplace, hearth, damper, and doors
- Ventilation and insulation
- Garage doors and openers
Along with the primary things checked during a home inspection, there are many licensed professionals that offer add-on inspections that are usually recommended in that if left unidentified and corrected, a new homeowner could be stuck with a large, expensive problem. The following are examples of these add-on services:
- Radon Testing – Proven to be the second leading cause of lung cancer, radon testing is recommended especially in states known to have high concentrations such as Colorado
- Mold Testing – While some types of molds are simply destruction, others to include black mold are highly toxic and dangerous. Therefore, air and scraping samples would be taken, sent to a laboratory for testing, and then the information passed on to the potential homebuyer at which time negotiations with the seller could begin or the offer voided.
The bottom line is that home inspections are a buyer’s best friend. People have the choice of paying for standalone or full inspections with add-on services, whether purchasing an older or newer home. In both situations, home inspections offer tremendous value, often saving a new homeowner a significant amount of money.
When buying an older home, inspections are critical simply because of possible wear and tear to the structure, operating systems, and components of the property. Remember, a buyer is not provided with the luxury of having a home warranty unless purchased as a separate service. Therefore, for older homes, home inspections are essential.
However, mistakes can even occur in new homes built by the country’s top builders. Because builders depend on work performed by an array of contractors and subcontractors, inevitably things will go wrong. While an inspection with the builder would uncover most things and be taken care of at no expense to the new owner, it would still be recommended to have a full home inspection conducted so any unidentified defect or damage could be identified, even if unintentional.