The best way to know if the home you want to buy is in good condition is by getting a home inspection done. Here’s what to know before hiring a home inspector.
When you put an offer down on a house, the old saying Buyer Beware can really come into play. If the seller is saying the septic system was pumped recently, are you going to take his word for it? If the seller says the roof was entirely replaced last year, how do you know if that’s the truth?
Different types of homes will require different types of inspections, so be aware of what might be necessary by reading the information below.
GENERAL HOME INSPECTIONS
The most common type of inspection we recommend is a General Home Inspection. A general home inspection involves hiring a professional inspector who will look for visible defects in a home.
Obviously, they won’t tear down the walls to see what’s inside them, but they can give you feedback on the overall condition of the home and its structural integrity.
When they spot something that isn’t in their realm of expertise, they will likely recommend that you seek advice from a more specialized home inspector.
The following are some examples of where a specialized home inspector may be required.
It’s important to check out the condition of the chimney if there is one. Some older chimneys don’t have flue liners, or the brick inside the chimney could has started to crumble. An inspection of the chimney can help ensure the smoke is properly circulating and being pushed outside quickly and efficiently. An inspection can also tell you whether or not you’re at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
A general home inspector may tell you that the electrical box is old and doesn’t meet building codes anymore. If this is the case, an actual electrician will be needed who will tell you the best brands to replace it with or how much it will cost to replace.
HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING
Most furnaces must be taken apart to determine whether the heat exchanger is cracked or to find out why the unit is malfunctioning. An HVAC specialist can tell you what’s wrong, how much it costs to fix the unit, and whether it needs to be replaced or not.
Depending on the age of the home, other inspections might include checking for formaldehyde, asbestos, or even mold. Your general home inspector will be able to point you in the direction of any specific inspection specialists they recommend.
INSPECTIONS FOR RURAL HOMES
CHECK THE WELL WATER
When you’re looking at rural homes, be aware that the main source of water will probably be a well situated somewhere on the property. There are a few different types of wells (e.g. drilled, dug) and the listing agent should be able to inform you of what kind of well it is.
You should have the well water level inspected to make sure it’s providing an ample supply. The water pressure pump should be checked to make sure it’s giving adequate pressure. A water test is also recommended to make sure the levels of heavy metals and coliform bacteria are safe for consumption.
CHECK THE CISTERNS
A cistern is essentially an underground water tank that can be filled by rain water, or delivery by a water-truck. Some rural homes have a back-up water supply called a cistern. A cistern is great if the well isn’t always providing water year round.
If the home you’re looking at comes with a cistern, be sure to ask the sellers how often they need to use the cistern water, and when they typically have the tank refilled.
SEWER OR SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECTION
Some older or rural homes may not be connected to the city’s sewer system. In cases like this you should get a proper septic inspection. The inspector will be able to look in the pit and examine its condition. They may also determine whether it needs to be pumped. Pumping the septic system can become an ongoing expense that costs approximately $200-$300 every few years.
The inspector will also be able to tell you the septic system is the right size of the home.
OTHER AREAS AN INSPECTION MAY BE BENEFICIAL
- PERMITS & ZONING: The city can tell you if any renovations that were done on the home were permitted or if the home is zoned to run your home-based business (if applicable).
- SQUARE FOOTAGE: Double check the room sizes yourself or use an appraisal service to assess the home’s square footage.
- LOT SIZE & ENCROACHMENTS: Ensure the lot size is as advertised and have any encroachments physically assessed.
WHEN HOME INSPECTIONS COST A LOT
Remember that no home is perfect. Repairs can range from an easy paint job, to larger concerns like a cracked foundation.
Our team of REALTORS® are often asked: “What are our options if something comes back wrong with the home inspection?”
Only you can decide how many repairs you’re willing to deal with.
The following are some options to think about.
1. ASK FOR MONEY OFF THE PURCHASE PRICE
You can ask to take money off the price you offered. By seeking a price reduction, you will be responsible for fixing the problem yourself after moving in. This way, you do the repair yourself so you’ll be confident it was done to your specifications.
2. ASK SELLERS TO FIX THE PROBLEMS
Buyers sometimes would rather have the issue fixed before closing. That way they don’t have to deal with the problem themselves. You can always ask the sellers to fix any issues, but you risk them doing a sub-standard job.
3. WALK AWAY FROM THE DEAL ALTOGETHER
If you decide the problem is just too much to take on, you have the option of completely walking away from the deal before it is finalized.
4. ACCEPT THE INSPECTION
There may be a few issues but you decide they’re not enough to make any changes to the agreement.
THE TAKE HOME
Home inspections are a necessary step before purchasing a home. An inspection many not always be required but there are very few times when a real estate agent would advise against it. In many cases, the cost of an inspection comes in much less than the cost to pay for major repairs that could have been done before you moved into your new home.