What is the goal of the inspection?
The goal of a pre purchase inspection is to educate the client to the condition of a house; it is not a pass or fail inspection. Client’s reaction to the information provided varies greatly. Many times I have inspected the same house for different clients with completely different reactions. What is one person’s castle is another person’s nightmare. Emotions can get in the way of a client’s decision making process; hence it does not always come down to black and white decisions or dollars and cents. Expectations are very important. I have had clients expect a hundred year old farm house to be as code compliant as a newly constructed house or a house that is priced vastly under market to be in the similar condition as the typical house in the area. There is no such thing as a perfect house.
Can I walk with the inspector?
You are encouraged to bring your questions and tag along. It is common to have client’s children, friends and relatives assisting in the inspection. I have had inspections with over 20 people tagging along.
What exactly do you inspect?
The inspection is designed to meet ASHI and InterNACHI guidelines. A detailed list can be provided.
Do you include cost estimates?
Ranges are included on most items, but without a specifications and a determination of the type of contractor utilized a cost estimate can be very misleading. Let’s utilize an example of a roof replacement. Does the estimate include the cost to remove the existing shingles, replace defective wood on the deck, remove and reinstall gutters, replace flashing, replace vents, install ice shield, clean up, and permits? What type of shingles is utilized? Is a warranty included for the labor and material? Is the contractor licensed and insured? How big of a crew will be utilized? How much experience and financial stability does the contractor possess? All of these items can drastically impact the price quote.
Is the inspection a code compliant inspection?
The inspection is not a code compliance inspection. Codes are constantly changing. As an example an older house may have met current code requirements at the time of construction, but unless updated it would not meet current code requirements. Although codes are relied upon as a reference point; it is up to the client to decide their comfort level.
Does the inspection include a review of the estimated market value?
No. This job falls to an appraiser. Although I also wear that hat, it is not included in a building inspection.
What are my options after the inspection?
In a typical real estate transaction if the client has concerns with the condition of the house these are the options: cancel the transaction with return of earnest funds; proceed with the transaction; or attempt to negotiate a price reduction, funds at close or repairs by the seller. The seller is not obligated to negotiate. Repairs by the seller can be problematic, the seller wants to complete the items the least expensive way possible and the buyer wants the most expensive way possible. Very seldom is there a meeting of the minds and a lot of time can be lost. Keep in mind that noted deficiency is not always a dollar for dollar decrease in purchase price. As an example, if a seller had installed a new roof prior to the listing the house may have been listed for a higher amount. But it is difficult to quantify even with the assistance of an appraiser.
When do I get the report?
A report will be sent via link typically within 24 hours of the inspection. Typically a link is also sent to the client’s real estate agent.
Can we call the inspector after the inspection?
Follow up discussions are part of the process. I have clients call me years later with questions.
Is a review of building records included in the building inspection?
A review of the building records is not included with a base report, but can be included for an additional fee. An attempt is made to review on line files for no additional fee. Information in these files could be pertinent to a client’s decision making process.
What is a sewer inspection?
The homeowner is responsible for the sewer line from the house to municipal main. This main can be located across the street or even down the street; the homeowner would be responsible for all restoration should the line fail. Also in some older areas the line does double duty with line also accepting the discharge from the storm water system. Recently it has become fairly common to run a camera from inside of the house to the main. Frequently a recording is provided. Services and qualifications can vary greatly. A sewer inspection is not included in the base report, but it can be coordinated. It is common to perform the sewer inspection at the same time as the building inspection. Moisture issues in the basement are frequently the result of issues with the sewer line and sewer inspection is a great diagnostic tool to determine the cause of the water entry.
What is a chimney inspection?
The chimney flue(s) are cleaned and a camera is lowered down the flue. This inspection can definitely reveal issues, but due to the cost it has not gained acceptance as a commonly utilized diagnostic tool. Certainly an older house with tall multiple flued chimney would have the most to gain by performing this inspection.
Does you inspection include a review in regard to mold issues?
A visual inspection is performed and if seen it is noted in the report. Conditions are noted that may cause mold growth, but a formal review of potential mold issues is not included in a base home inspection. An air quality test can be performed for an additional fee. Also surface testing can be performed for an additional fee. I believe that air quality testing for mold issues will eventually be common practice in the inspection process.
Does your inspection include a review of products that may contain asbestos?
A visual inspection is performed with products noted that could contain asbestos, but no products samples are taken for review, although this service is offered for an additional fee.
Does your inspection include a review if lead based paint is present?
No. Lead was phased out of paint prior to 1978, but this is the cut off year for concerns about lead in paint. Every room in a house could have different paint products utilized through the years, so every surface would have to be tested. There are several test methods. The most common is a chemical test where the layers of paint are exposed with the provided chemical wiped on the area with a color change if lead is present. Another test method the paint is sanded, captured and taken to lab for review. The problem with both tests is they are destructive and would require many test sites to determine if lead based paint is present. The most definitive test is the use of use of portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry. The test equipment is very expensive, upwards of $25,000. The market at this point will not support the cost of this inspection on a typical home inspection. An inspection can be coordinated, but you may get sticker shock. Also what to you do if lead is noted in the base layers of paint? Lead could be in the soil around the perimeter of the house. This is due to the peeled paint chips that could be present in the soil. A sample can be taken to a lab for testing.