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  • Brad Stringer, BA, MBA, CMI, CIE

Top 5 Questions Buyers Ask About Home Inspections


Home inspections are a very important part of the home-buying process. A home inspection is a visual/functional examination of the property, performed by a certified, or in some states, licensed professional who will identify any problems with the structure or major systems that may need to be repaired or replaced.

Home inspections help you make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase a property before committing to it. They also give you peace of mind knowing exactly what repairs may be required so that your home functions properly after moving in. So, what should you know when it comes to your home inspection?


Is The Home Inspector Certified, Licensed, Insured and Bonded?


· Certification: This is an industry-specific certification, which means it's designed to test the inspectors knowledge of the industry. It doesn't necessarily mean that they've had experience in the field or are qualified to perform inspections, but it does show that they have a basic understanding of what goes on during an inspection. Consider choosing an inspector who not only has a professional certification, such as the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, but who also has significant experience in home inspection and related fields.

· Licensing: For someone (or company) to perform home inspections in most states, they must be licensed by their state's board of licensing. This ensures that inspectors meet certain requirements and standards before being allowed out into the field. Check the website of the state licensing body to make sure they are a member in good standing.

· Insurance/Bonding: When buying a home or having any kind of construction done on your property--even simple repairs--it's important to make sure that whoever does these jobs has insurance or bonding coverage in case something goes wrong with their workmanship later on down the road (and trust me when I say this happens all too often). Even with a good inspection, things can change in your home at any time after the inspector leaves. Look for an inspector who warranties or guarantees their work after the inspection. Some do, but most do not warranty their inspection past the day of the inspection.


How Detailed Will the Inspection Be?

· The answer to this question depends on what type of inspection you are having done and what you expect from it. In general, a home inspection will cover major systems in your home. However, there are different types of inspections available: some are more thorough than others and may include additional items like radon testing, mold or sewer line scoping (the process by which an inspector uses a camera to examine the main waste line piping).


What areas of my house will be inspected?

· Inspectors typically check out everything from structure, heating/cooling, electrical wiring, roofing, and plumbing, but there may be some things they won't inspect unless you ask them specifically--for example, if there's mold growing behind drywall or cracks in your foundation wall that could indicate structural damage caused by termites or other pests. Separate outbuildings, pools, spas, or irrigation systems may also not be inspected.


What Is Included in the Inspection Price?

The inspection price typically includes the following:

· Inspection of all major systems, including electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling, roof, and structure.

· A detailed report with photos that you can share with your real estate agent.

· Some inspectors will even provide a copy of the report on a USB drive or a printed copy for your records, however, most provide the report by email for quicker delivery since your transaction typically has time limits with regards to asking for any repairs associated with your home inspection.


Will The Inspector Test for Lead Paint?

If you're buying a home built prior to 1978, it's important to know if there are any risks of lead paint. Lead paint can be found in many homes built before 1978 when it was finally banned in residential construction. It can be dangerous if the paint is chipping and peeling and can be ingested by small children. Although typically not included in a home inspection, if you hire an environmental inspector and they find any signs of lead-based paint, they can tell you what to do next. If the levels are high enough that it poses an immediate threat, (more than 40 micrograms per square foot), then the seller should correct it before selling the house.


Is Asbestos Testing Part of the Basic Inspection?

Asbestos is a dangerous substance that can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. The most common source of asbestos is old building materials like pipe and attic insulation, some floor tiles, and some ceiling tiles. Because it is dangerous to human health, the EPA has banned its use in new construction materials since 1989 (though it remains in some older homes).

Asbestos testing is typically NOT included in a home inspection. This type of inspection would need to be performed by a qualified professional experienced in environmental contaminants and their mitigation.


Conclusion

The most important thing to remember when having your home inspected is that the home inspection should address YOUR most important concerns with the property, not just those of the inspector. If you want a more thorough inspection of any additional components of concern, don't be afraid to ask for one! Just remember, it is your investment, and if everything goes well, it will be your new home!


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