You are ready to buy or sell a home. The house looks great – it’s in a good neighborhood, the price is right, the property is clean and looks like it’s been taken care of. So why do you need a home inspection?
Any house changes over time. Before you sell or buy a house you will want to identify any problems or even potential problems with the property that the current owner may not even be aware of. As a home buyer you will want to know what you are getting into and as a home seller you will want to get the best possible price for your house without incurring any liabilities for not disclosing problems up front.
To be clear, there is no “Pass or Fail” in a normal home inspection. An inspector is trained to look for common issues in a house that may not be evident just by walking through it. The purpose of a home inspection is to simply make the buyer aware of any potential issues so that they are comfortable with purchasing the property, confident that they can handle any maintenance issues that may arise.
Having said that, here are five big issues that any home inspector will look for.
Moisture seeping into a home can either be an immediate disaster like a broken pipe or severe flooding, or it can be an insidious, unseen thing that slowly rots a house. It can come from a leaky roof, unsealed window, rising groundwater or poor runoff from rain water. The inspector can check for the smallest amounts of moisture and related damage and recommend fixes.
Mold and Mildew
Related to Moisture is the occurrence of molds and mildews in a house. Generally, home inspectors are not trained or certified to identify mold. They will not tell you know whether it is present in a home. However, they are experienced enough to know where to look for it, and to make note of any dark spots or discoloration and bring it to the home owner’s or buyer’s attention.
A professional can then be brought in for testing. Also it’s important to remember that most of a mold or mildew problem will be hidden. A small patch of mold in a corner can be indicative of a great deal of mold behind the walls.
Plumbing and Electrical
Plumbing and Electrical are grouped together because these systems are hidden. An inspector can only look for any issues at places where there is access.
Is there moisture on the pipes under the sink? If the inspector finds moisture around the pipes under the sink or evidence that the wires in an electrical panel have been overheating, this can indicate a serious problem with your plumbing or electrical system. That means a professional electrician and/or plumber should be brought in to check things out thoroughly.
Over time and years of weather, a house can shift and settle. Windows can become less efficient and the seals can go bad. This can mean moisture problems or at the very least mean that you might be paying higher utility bills.
Replacing windows is a big expense so it’s important to be sure the windows in a home are in the best possible condition. An inspector will look for things like moisture or moisture damage on the inside sill, or fogging.
Big Money Items
The final group of things to look at are the “Big Money” items. Things like HVAC, furnaces, the septic system, the water heater, the roof, and the foundation can cost thousands of dollars to fix or replace. “Big Money” problems will need to be identified before a property sells.
These are all things that are affected by age. At the very least an inspector will determine when the HVAC was installed or when the roof was last serviced.
If the HVAC is more than 20 years old the buyers will need to know. Inspectors know the signs of an old or damaged roof. While they cannot inspect the septic system personally they can tell you whether water is running out to it efficiently.
Even though the house might look to be in great condition, the cost of getting a professional home inspection report is small in comparison to dealing with unforeseen disasters.