Why is a home inspection important?
- A home purchase is one of the largest investments you will ever make. You want to protect your investment by having a professional home inspector examine the property you are interested in buying.
- Home inspectors have a very thorough, methodical, set of inspection steps. Most now use laptops with specialized software for the inspection industry.
- The use of family or friends with construction experience won’t give you that added level of process and experience.
What is a home inspection?
- An on-site visual inspection of all accessible systems and components.
- A snapshot in time.
- Results in a written report with findings and recommendations.
What is inspected?
- Most exterior surfaces (roof, siding, windows, driveways etc.)
- Landscaping and grading, foundation, lights and outlets.
- Garages (attached or detached).
- Decks, balconies, patios.
- Basements crawl spaces, attics.
- All accessible rooms.
- Some appliances (if an item is not operable, it can’t be inspected).
- All accessible systems: plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical.
What is not inspected?
- Fences, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and alarm systems.
- Telephones, cable TV, antennas, and satellite dishes.
- Cosmetic deficiencies (peeling wallpaper, carpet cuts and stains, etc.).
- Areas that are not readily accessible (due to stored items, locked doors, etc.). Make sure your agent knows that all important components have to be accessible for proper home inspection.
- An inspector will generally not open any covers that are nailed or screwed in place, except the main electrical panel.
- Areas presenting a danger for the inspector (ice or snow covered roof, flooded basement).
What if the inspector cannot get access?
- Sometimes access to a component (water heater, furnace, etc.) is blocked by boxes or other stored items or furniture. Access to the crawl space (or attic) may also be nailed shut or hidden under rugs, boxes, etc. In circumstances like this, the inspector will usually suggest a re-inspection.
- Most inspection firms charge a re-inspection fee.
- To avoid a follow-up trip fee or a re-inspection fee, make sure your real estate agent coordinates with the listing agent and seller to verify access.
- If there are snow covered areas of single family residences and duplexes (e.g., roofs and landscaping), the seller may put money into an escrow account and release the funds after re-inspection when all areas are clear of snow.
How do I find a home inspector?
- The home inspection industry is not regulated or licensed in Colorado. Therefore, it is important that you carefully select a professional home inspector.
- Sources of information:
- Recommendation from your real estate agent, mortgage broker or appraiser.
- Research NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors – www.nachi.org) website. Members of this organization are governed by industry rules and a code of ethics. Inspectors have to pass rigorous tests to become members. http://www.nachi.org/CO
- Google search.
- Recommendation from family and friends.
How do I then select a home inspector?
- Interview your prospective home inspectors:
- How long have you (or your company) been in business?
- How many inspections have you performed?
- Do you work primarily in the mountains?
- Are you also involved in remodeling or repair?
- The answer should be “NO”. Involvement in trades may be a conflict of interest.
- How long does the inspection take?
- Inspections shorter than one hour are usually not very thorough, especially for larger townhouses or houses.
- In general an inspection on an average size home should take 2 to 4 hours.
- What kind of insurance do you carry?
- Inspectors should have liability and E&O insurance.
- Obtain references from previous customers of the home inspection firm you are interested in hiring.
- Do not base your selection of an inspector on just the price of the inspection.
When should I schedule the home inspection?
- Schedule your inspection as soon as you sign the contract.
- Make sure that the Inspection Objection deadline in your real estate contract gives you enough time to:
- Schedule the inspection so you can be present.
- Get the results for all scheduled tests (radon, water, etc.).
- Get estimates for necessary repairs or replacements.
How long does an inspection take?
- An average-size single family house takes approximately 2 to 4 hours.
- Larger houses or commercial properties will take longer.
Should I attend the home inspection?
- Yes! The inspection is an educational process.
- You will learn:
- Areas of main concern.
- How to maintain your property.
- How to operate systems.
- Inspector will summarize the findings and answer all your questions or concerns.
How do I get results from a home inspection?
- Verbal feedback if you attend the inspection.
- Most reports are now digital and most now include pictures embedded in the report.
- Written report is usually sent via email the following day to both the buyer and their agent.
- Inspector will offer solutions to the problems and refer you to the proper trade or suggest further evaluation.
How do I utilize report results in contract negotiations?
- Negotiate through your real estate agent. Inspector will not tell you what items you should negotiate with seller.
- You can:
- Obtain estimates on necessary repairs and negotiate with seller.
- Let the seller repair the areas of concerns and re-inspect the property before closing.
- Most problems are fixable and negotiable so there is no need to cancel the contract.
Is there a difference between inspections of condominiums and houses?
- Most inspection firms do not inspect exterior surfaces (roof, siding, driveway, etc.) and common areas (halls, stairs, etc.) of condominium complexes.
- Common areas and exteriors are usually the responsibility of the homeowners association.
- A condominium inspection is usually less expensive than a single family home inspection.
- Contact the homeowners association to:
- Study financial statements. There should be a financial reserve to cover general maintenance.
- Obtain information about planned (and historical) financial assessments.
- Obtain information on what exactly is maintained and replaced by the homeowners association.
- See the Bylaws and Declarations.
Does it make sense to inspect new construction?
- Yes, there are areas of concern even in new construction as not everything may be functioning properly.
- Builders usually offer only a 1 year warranty.
- An inspection will educate you about the property.
- Preventive maintenance suggestions.
Is the inspection different for really old houses?
- Many occupied and livable homes were built in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s.
- The inspector uses same procedures and same report.
- Have a slightly different mindset.
- Focus is still on systems and safety.
What additional tests can be performed?
- Radon in the air. Single family residences, duplexes or condominiums with living areas in the basement, on a concrete slab, or above a crawl space should be tested for radon in the air. Radon is a natural radioactive gas that seeps into dwellings through cracks. The EPA says that exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. http://www.epa.gov/radon/
- Septic inspections and a test of water quality and quantity should be performed on houses connected to private well and private septic systems.
- Areas with visible mold should be tested. You should know what kind of mold is present. Some mold spores are toxic and can causing allergies. Mitigation of mold is possible, however it can be expensive.
- Asbestos testing for properties built prior to the late 1980s if you plan to do remodeling. Asbestos can be mitigated, and there are environmental companies who specialize in asbestos testing and mitigation. http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos
What is the cost of the inspection?
- Cost is usually based on square footage and the number of plumbing units.
- Know the square footage of the property you are purchasing.
- Know how many bedrooms and baths.
- Know if the property has any outbuildings you would like to have inspected.
- Fees are usually payable at the time of or before an inspection.
- Some companies accept credit cards as a form of payment.
- Additional tests are not included in the basic structural inspection fee.
I feel that the inspector missed something, what should I do?
- Contact the inspector immediately if you feel he or she missed something.
- Contact your agent.
- The inspector will come and re-evaluate your claim.