Unlike other major purchases like an automobile, your ability to “test drive” a home before you actually live in it is very limited. As a home buyer you seek out a property that fits your aesthetics, household needs and price range. Much of a home’s value (and eventual cost to you) rests in how sound its construction and major systems are – but the untrained eye isn’t able to determine the significance of common home issues that might be apparent during a walk-through.
A home inspection is designed to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about the quality and current condition of a home. Armed with information from your home inspection, you can make a smart decision about whether you accept the home as it is, if you’d be willing to buy it under certain conditions (such as the sellers addressing certain issues before closing), or if you should keep shopping for the right property. The inspection reviews the condition of the home’s structure (foundation, roof, walls, interior and exterior) and major systems (electrical,plumbing, air and heating systems) so you can determine what work the home needs and anticipate repairs you’d need to do to maintain a safe and habitable property. Some common items a home inspection will identify include the following:
– Foundation: Does it show cracks, settling, or moisture intrusion?
– Structure: Do the roof, walls, exterior, and foundation support the property?
– Roof: Do the roof and gutters adequately divert rain from the house?
– Exterior: Are siding materials water resistant? Is their condition sufficient?
– Interior: Are walls, floors, stairways, and ventilation in sufficient shape?
– Plumbing: What type of piping distributes water in the house? Are there signs of leakage, drips, or clogs?
– Electrical system: What sort of electrical system does the house have and does the home have sufficient supply for modern appliances?
– Heating and air conditioning: Are heating and air conditioning systems operational, or are there signs of condensation and poor ventilation?
Of course, a home inspection isn’t just for new buyers. Many home owners arrange inspections to help them assess which elements of their home need maintenance attention. Sellers also arrange inspections so they can assess their home’s condition and make repairs or better understand what price to place on their property. Because a home has many different components with different lifespans, a home’s systems require ongoing maintenance and examination.
Buyers, sellers, and owners can all use inspection data to keep track of their home’s condition. Inspections help answer many questions. Is this an older home that has, over time, been updated with newer materials? Does the property have updated electrical wiring? Is it a newer property made with sensitive materials, such as synthetic stucco? If the home is in a moist climate, is there evidence of water penetration? If the home is in a dry climate, is there evidence of insect infestation or a risk of fire? Are there any signs of deterioration? Is the foundation settling? How is the roof holding up?
Inspections answer these questions and many more so that buyers, sellers, and owners can better understand a property. Most issues with a home come from water penetration. Make sure your house is properly sealed with paint and ensure you have proper drainage around your house.
Buying A House
As a home buyer you should consider a home inspection, radon test and sewer scope. Once the inspection is completed you can ask the seller to make repairs to the house. If there is a major issue get a professional estimate. You can ask for an extension in the inspection period to allow time for more inspections.
It is important to understand the seller does not have to bring the house up to current day code. Construction practices and codes are constantly changing. Be realistic with yourself and the seller on the condition of the home and repairs needed for daily life.
Buying a house “as-is” will give you an advantage over other buyers making an offer on the property. If you decide to purchase a house “as-is” you are still allowed to do a home inspection, however you cannot ask the seller for repairs. For more about buying a home click here.
Selling Your House
Here is a list that may be helpful for you in preparing your house for a home buyer’s inspection. Many of these items can be done at little or no cost and are part of a regular maintenance program for any home.
• Remove soil or mulch from contact with siding. Four or more inches of clearance is best.
• Clean out dirty gutters and any debris from the roof.
• Check to make sure all water from downspouts, sump pump, condensation and basement entry drains is diverted away from the house.
• Trim trees, roots and bushes back from the foundation, roof, siding and chimney.
• Paint weathered exterior wood and caulk around the trim, chimney,windows and doors.
• Repair any failing mortar in brick or block.
• Remove wood and/or firewood from any contact with the house.
• Caulk all exterior wall penetrations.
• Clean or replace heating and cooling filters, clean dirty air returns and plenum.
• Test all smoke detectors to ensure that they are working.
• Have the chimney, fireplace or wood stove serviced and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
• Replace any burned out light bulbs.
• Have clear access to attic, crawl space, heating system, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected.• If the house is vacant, make sure all utilities are turned on. This includes water, electricity, furnace, A/C, gas, and the water heater because they will need to be inspected.
• Ensure ready access to all rooms and crawl spaces. Clear all furniture, boxes, clothes, toys and other personal items that may block access to the furnace, water heater and electrical panel.
Basement, Crawl Spaces and Attics
• Check to ensure that the crawl space is dry and install a proper vapor barrier if necessary.
• Remove paints, solvents, gas, wood and similar materials from crawl space, basement, attic and porch.• Update attic ventilation if none is present.
• If windows are at or below grade, install window wells and covers.
Doors and Windows
• Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition, including repairing or replacing any cracked window panes.
For more information about selling your house click here.