House Inspection

A house inspection is imperative if you are looking to buy a new home.  These inspections can save you thousands of dollars of repair and grief.  The following is a list of the top ten problems that are often found during a house inspection:

  1. Foundation Problems: The house’s foundation is sinking, crumbling, or there is water or cracking in the basement.  Foundation problems are usually an indication of many other expensive problems.
  2. Worn out Roof – Everyone knows that roofs will suffer from wear and tear over the years, but if buckling is found or missing shingles, these are both signs that a new roof may be needed soon.
  3. Improper Ventilation – If the ventilation in a home is not right, the house can suffer from all kinds of problems including mold and inadequate heating and cooling temperatures.
  4. Plumbing Issues – A leaking sink or pipe can become the source of a myriad of problems later down the line.  Even if the problem seems fairly insignificant at the time of the house inspection, it’s recommended that it be fixed before you place a bid.  Plumbing problems can get worse over time if they are ignored.
  5. Electrical Problems – A thorough house inspection will include an analysis of the home’s electrical system.  Outdated or unsafe wiring can pose a serious fire hazard and should be updated.
  6. Major Components – During the house inspection, the major components of the home should always be looked at.  This includes all major appliances, water heaters, pumps of any kind, and even things like the water main and sewer lines going to the house.  Any defects in these items can mean trouble.
  7. Pests – You automatically know that the presences of pests such as mice or termites is a warning sign, but be sure that an inspection of their presence is performed during the house inspection.
  8. Attic or Crawlspace Issues – The attic should be free of debris, clean, and show good insulation.  The crawlspace (if applicable) should also be clean and as free of any major cracks or leaks as possible.
  9. Paint or Siding is Peeling/Cracking – Peeling paint may just be an aesthetic problem, or it could indicate the presence of lead paint.  Cracked siding means it’s older and should be replaced.
  10. Water in the Basement – If you see water in the basement, it’s advised you do not buy the home.  Water in the basement means a myriad of issues are already happening to the home such as flooding, moisture problems, ventilation issues, and possible structural issues as well.

House Inspections

Hire a Professional

After touring many potential homes and deciding on the one that best suits your needs, initiating a professional house inspection should be the next step before contemplating buying.  A professional house inspection can find potential problems that an average homeowner cannot. 

The inspector should look at the house’s main operating systems such as electrical, mechanical (heating and cooling), plumbing, roofing and building foundations for any defects or damage.  A professional house inspector should be able to tell you how serious any problems are, what repairs need to be done and approximately how much the repairs might cost.  Under no circumstances should the house inspector offer to do these repairs.

Participation in the Inspection Is Essential

A professional house inspector will look for many obvious problems such as water leaks, rodent infestations, building code violations and construction defects.  Experience will allow the inspector to make assumptions regarding the severity and repairability of any problems found. 

You should plan to attend the inspection so you can discuss issues as they are found and ask any questions you may have.  Not only will this give you the most information but will put your mind at ease if only minor or no problems are found. Participating in the inspection will educate you as to the specific repairs needed so you will be better able to manage a contractor to do these repairs.

Using the House Inspection Findings

A house inspection can empower you to do a number of things in regards to making an offer on a particular home.  If the inspection uncovered a few small items needing repair or no problems at all you can go ahead and make any offer you think will be accepted by the seller. If however, one or more rather expensive repairs are needed you may need to alter your offer accordingly. 

You can ask the seller to make the necessary repairs or suitably lower the asking price.  You can adjust your offer to reflect the approximate cost of the repairs and make them yourself.  Or if the home appraises for more than the asking price you can decide to purchase as is and then do the repairs at your own expense.  In any case having a profession house inspection will save you from expensive surprises.

House Inspector

When purchasing a new home it is always a good idea to have a House Inspector take a look at the property before signing.  A house inspector is a qualified structural engineer who can take a look at the property and discern any current or foreseeable problems the home has or will develop.  However not all home inspectors are the same, and its important to make sure you’ve contracted a reputable one.  There are a number of ways to assure a quality house inspector, but there are a handful that are sure tip offs. 

The number one sign to look for is that your house inspector is licensed; this insures that he has followed the proper channels and is capable to address the job at hand.  Being licensed however is not a guarantee, so one should always ask their inspector if he offers guarantees on his work.  This is another way to assure you have contracted a reputable home inspector.  Inspectors who are willing to guarantee their work in writing are generally seasoned veterans, and know what they are getting themselves into. 

Finally, when you are researching it is important to consider house inspectors who are insured.  Although it is not required, house inspectors should carry Errors and Omissions insurance.  This will assure that the client is getting everything they need, and preventing any problems that the home inspector may erroneously cause.  With these three handy tips to remember, it will be easier for anyone to procure a reliable, qualified house inspector for what will be the biggest purchase of most peoples lives.  But remember, there are always more ways to check up on your house inspector, and the number one way aside from those listed above is to research his or her previous jobs.  Actively approach them for references, not just one, so you can speak with other individuals that have been in your shoes and can tell you what you need to know.  With these tips, finding a house inspector can be an easy rather than arduous task.

House Inspectors

Even if you’ve bought a house before, you may not be aware that sometimes one house inspector isn’t enough to do the job.  If the property you’re considering has certain special features, you may need specialist house inspectors to really give you the lowdown.   This includes houses with pools, with extensive grounds that include mature trees, and older houses. Additional options include specialists for pest control, chimneys, radon, and asbestos.  An experience house inspector may be at least somewhat familiar with pest control or chimney inspection, but hiring a specialist will give you either peace of mind, leverage to negotiate on price, or a good reason to back out of the deal altogether.

A regular house inspector will do a careful visual inspection of all accessible parts of the house: the foundation, the exterior, the interior, and, if possible, the roof.  This inspector will notice things like water damage or structural defects.  However, a regular house inspector is not responsible for exterior elements of the property, and may not always be trained to recognize signs of termites or boring beetles.

If you have an older home, you may need house inspectors that specialize in older homes and chimneys.  Often, an older home has unique issues that an inspection will address. These house inspectors can check to make sure that your chimneys are appropriately lined.  Not having the appropriate chimney lining can lead to fire hazards, heating inefficiency, or masonry damage.

If you have a pool, you’ll need a pool inspector to check for cracks in the pool or drainage issues. Regular house inspectors are not responsible for observing any other part of the property other than the house itself.

Any home can be at risk for radon buildup. Radon occurs naturally and its concentration is unpredictable even within the same city block. If you need to mitigate elevated radon levels, it could run into the neighborhood of a few thousand dollars, depending on the house; this discovery can save you some money on the asking price (of course, the money will have to be spent on alleviating the problem since radon causes lung cancer).

A home is the most important purchase you’ll make. Invest wisely by hiring appropriate house inspectors for your situation.  Check their references carefully to ensure that they have insurance, experience, and any necessary certifications.

Certified Home Inspection

There are a few situations where it might be important to obtain a report from a certified home inspection specialist.  If you are planning to sell or purchase a home, a certified home inspection service can tell you if there are problems with the house that will need to be fixed.

If you’re a seller, you can decide which problems are necessary to fix before you put the house on the market.  Severe problems may scare a buyer away entirely, so it’s a very good idea to get a home inspection so that you know what needs fixing. Similarly, a certified home inspections specialist may let you know of problems that are not so major, but that could increase the potential asking price of your home.  If you are selling a home, getting an inspection can prepare you for problems and help you strategize about maximizing the selling price of your home.  Inquire about optional tests like radon testing, as these are questions that buyers may have as well. 

If you are a buyer, there are some problems with a home that you’ll be able to notice yourself, but a certified home inspection specialist can alert you to invisible problems like electrical or plumbing issues.  Any problem that will need repair is leverage for you to negotiate with the seller about your offering price.  A certified home inspection professional can let you know if a problem is minor or severe; for instance, a sloping floor in an older home could just be from natural settling (and therefore a minor annoyance instead of a real problem) but it could also indicate foundational issues.  A home inspector can tell you if a problem is severe or not.  Be sure to ask about issues like radon, lead paint, and other optional tests. Trust your own judgment as well– don’t get carried away by paint color when there’s a wiring problem that may cost thousands to fix.

When you look for a certified home inspections professional, be sure that the person is experienced as well as certified. Choose an inspector who is thorough and who will answer all of your questions.

Home Inspection Defects

Hmmm… Think you’ve got defects in your new home?   Know you’ve got’em but don’t know what to do next?  Don’t panic!  As a home inspector dealing mainly with new homes, I’ve gained a lot of experience with defects caused by both good and not-so-good builders.  Maybe you can benefit.  Start here and then go to the proper page.

Rule #1.  Hire an experienced inspector who is familiar with required standards and not afraid to cite them.

Built-in defects can range from minor to very serious. Remember that even minor defects can lead to major problems. For example, if an exterior door or window isn’t properly flashed the wood will deteriorate and rot, and will eventually need replacement (at your cost). However, a properly flashed door or window can last for generations with just usual maintenance.

Defects in inspection reports should be sourced to authoritative reference material and will substantiate your inspector’s findings. 

Noted defects that are building code violations should cite the specific code and section number.  Your inspector should also refer to Manufacturer’s Installation Specifications, the National Association of Home Builders Quality Standards, and/or other recognized Industry Standards and guidelines.

WHAT TO GIVE YOUR BUILDER

Most Builders are responsive to defects that are located during an inspection. You should supply your Builder with a copy of the inspection report. A good report lists all defects that were identified during the inspection and cites the applicable standard. If you have a good relationship with your builder you may want to hand it to him or his representative. I recommend that you obtain a dated receipt. If you mail the report, I recommend that you use regular mail. It’s a good idea to include a cover letter. Keep the tone positive and friendly. If you don’t get a response within a reasonable amount of time send another copy, this time using Certified Mail.

Keeping good records is very helpful in case of misunderstandings or disputes. Create a file and log your communications. Keep a record of all contacts with the Builder and subs regarding your home in this file. If you have a phone conversation regarding repairs to your home, jot down the details of who you spoke to and what was said. Include the time and date. In the majority of cases this kind of information is not needed, but it is good preventative insurance. If your Builder says that any part of the report is incorrect you should obtain his opinion and the basis for it in writing. Most inspectors have heard all of the excuses and stand behind what they write. Don’t simply take the Builder’s word for it. He should provide you with a written authoritative source for his opinion, just as your inspector has. A statement like “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it and we’ve never had a problem” isn’t sufficient.

It’s important but not totally necessary that your Builder receive your report prior to the one year anniversary of your closing (This is true in GA. I don’t know about anywhere else). I recommend this so that repairs can be made under the Builder’s one year warranty. If you have an Extended Warranty it’s still important to get the report to your Builder within the first year. This is when the warranty is most comprehensive. Most warranties cover only major structural items after the first year. The warranty company decides what is a structural defect. Usually an item has to fail before they consider it a defect. I consider all structural defects to be unacceptable. They will likely cause something to need repair sooner or later, and sooner is usually cheaper to repair than later. Please remember, Builder’s warrantys aren’t the be-all end-all.  Lots of other Standards may applie to a given defect.

If the house is brand new and you haven’t closed, I strongly recommend that everything except for small cosmetic items be repaired before closing. No matter what your Builder says or promises, your leverage is greatest before you close.

If your report cites code violations on your home, you should know that the CABO Code was adopted into Georgia State Law as the minimum construction standard. This means that your home “must” at least be built to the CABO minimum standard. Statements such as “That is not required in this municipality” or ” We have always done it this way” aren’t acceptable. Municipalities may write their own codes, which are more restrictive than the State adopted code. However, no one has the authority to downgrade a code once it has been adopted into law without specific written approval by the State of Georgia.

Cobb County GA Residents: In the event that the inspection reveals code violations, you should be aware that Cobb County Building Officials will only be of help if they are in receipt of the specific violations prior to the one year anniversary of the “Certificate of Occupancy” of your home. The $10,000.00 Code Compliance Bond required by the county affords you some protection.  However, there isn’t a $10,000.00 bond for each house. It’s spread over ALL of the Builder’s projects and may have already been depleted by other homeowners.

There may be some disagreement on what is required of the Builder regarding CABO Code items.

Simply put:

GA State law requires the Builder to build the house to the CABO Code as adopted by the State of Georgia. He would also be required to meet any ADDITIONAL Standards that the County might impose. The Municipality is not allowed to reduce the requirements of the State, but may them more restrictive.

Some items are not specifically identified by the Code and are refered to as “Alternate Methods and Materials”.  When disputes on these matters arise, I suggest following standards set by HUD to resolve the conflict. They are as follows :

1. “A written acceptance by the inspecting authority ( for example, a letter from the municipality’s head building official or copies of the minutes of a Planning Commission meeting). Letters from a local inspector will not be sufficient.”

2. “The supporting SBCCI Compliance Report, HUD Materials Release, Truss Connector Bulletin, or similar report.”

3. These documents should be supplied for each item and not issued as a blanket statement for the whole house, such as a “Certificate of Occupancy”.

Items #1 and #2 are found in “HUD Compliance Inspection Guide”,#IV-HD-93-26

I’ve got a friendly Builder | I’ve got a not-so-friendly Builder

Home Inspection Companies

Just before buying a house, one of the tasks that are absolutely necessary is obtaining a proper building inspection, and there are many home inspection companies from which to choose. First, an overall inspection of the property will be needed. This will include both the interior and exterior of the structure, as well as the land on which it is located.

Home inspection companies that offer this service will examine the foundation, roof, siding, windows, and the surrounding property on the exterior of the house. On the interior, plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems will be checked for proper operation. The structure of the walls and floors will be inspected for problems, such as warping or water damage. All paint should be tested to ensure that it does not contain lead. Finally, other hazardous materials, such as asbestos or mold should be sought out in the inspection process, and removed when necessary.

Another inspection should be done to ensure that the home is free of pests, and there are specialized home inspection companies available for this task. Damaging insects such as termites and carpenter ants must be removed from a home to ensure that all wooden structures remain in good condition. For health and safety concerns, the home should also be free of any other pests, such as rodents or roaches. Preventive measures can also be taken to guarantee that a home free of pests will remain so in the future.

When deciding on which of the home inspection companies to use, it is often a good idea to ask for recommendations from other homeowners, or even realtors. Often, the company itself will also provide a list of references. Choosing reputable home inspection companies for both examinations will ensure that there are no costly surprises after all of the mortgage papers have been signed.

House Inspection Checklist

When you choose a company to have your home inspected, it will pay to choose a company with a good reputation and taking the help of word of mouth recommendations should point you in the right direction. When beginning the inspection of the home, it may help to first prepare a house inspection checklist which can often is quite exhaustive though having many points to inspect is always a good idea.

Exterior Checklist

To begin with, you can choose a number of things to include in your house inspection checklist for the exteriors including landscape, trees, plants, grading of soil, swimming pool (if present) and the roofing. Since new roofs can cost quite a bit, it would pay to inspect it closely including its materials, age, shingles, tar paper, gutters, roof line, layers of roof, chimney as well as any sagging or bracing of the roof.

Other items to include in the exterior house inspection checklist include propane tanks, sewer, building exterior, hairline cracks, doors and also windows especially the trim areas and also framing, foundation, cement, fences and garage, and finally the driveway.

You can also prepare a house inspection checklist for the interiors of the property that will include the basement and craw space, floors, walls, wiring, fireplace, heating and also cooling systems, plumbing, and finally, the bathroom and kitchen.

You should hire professional home inspectors who will examine as well as report accurately the condition in which your property is though an inspection of this kind does not lead to finding out the value of your property. In addition, even if the inspection is thorough, there is still no surefire means of finding faults that are not visible and these can be overlooked when the inspection is performed.

Home Inspection

For new or even experienced home buyers, it is common knowledge that a home inspection is a vital part of the entire home buying process.  This inspection can save home buyers thousands of dollars or more in potential problems and repairs.  In most cases, a home inspection can be a telltale sign whether or not you want to purchase the home or not.  So what is involved in a home inspection?  First, the inspector meets the buyer and in most cases their realtor at the home.  They should check the major components of the house like the air conditioning and heating units, the main electrical panel, all major appliances, the roof, the attic and/or basement, and structural integrity of the home.  The purpose of a home inspection is to make sure that everything is in good condition and no major repairs need to be made.

A comprehensive home inspection will give buyers a look at the house’s major areas, and should provide them with a printed out inspection on paper.  This should cover all areas of concern, as well as areas that everything looks to be OK.   Many home inspections are fairly inexpensive, and can range from about $250-$500.  Often the cost depends on the size and age of the home.  Regardless, a home inspection can be money well spent.  It can prevent buyers from getting involved in a home that could be a headache later on down the road, and gives them a clearer picture of the condition of the home they are about to buy.  Knowing what to expect, what needs to be fixed, and what parts of the house are solid and safe can help ease potential home buyers’ minds.  It is a good way to ensure you’re getting a house that should be relatively worry free, at least for a few more years to come.

Roof Inspection

The structural integrity of a roof is one of the most important parts of a home inspection. It is so important that it can kill a deal to sell a home due to the expense involved with roof repairs. A roof inspection is part of a regular home inspection, however if a there is a possibility of trouble a roofing expert will need to be called in to give a thorough roof inspection.

A roof inspection is done to determine a roofs structural integrity, its expected lifespan, and when it may have to be replaced. Roof inspectors will not have to pull up shingles to do a detailed roof inspection. They will use an infrared thermograph to determine if moisture penetration is suspected. The roof covering is visually assessed, as are the fascias, gutters, soffits and flashings. In addition the interior walls and ceilings are inspected to check for signs of water infiltration. A report on the roof inspector’s findings is written detailing potential problem areas, and suggested maintenance and repairs.

When performing a roof inspection, the inspector will have a different checklist to go through depending if the roof is sloped or flat. Sloped roofs generally have a shingle covering made of asphalt, wood, or slate. They are normally flat, and rectangular, with the rows overlapping. The most common covering is a fiberglass asphalt shingle due to its cost and relative durability. During a roof inspection shingles will be checked to see if they are cracked, curled buckled or missing. Modern flat roofs are covered with a rubber membrane that is applied as a whole sheet whenever possible. They are bonded to the roof surface to keep it from being damaged by wind. The checklist for a flat roof inspection would include an inspection for punctures, cracks, blisters and ponding.

With proper maintenance, and an annual roof inspection, you will not have to worry about rain, snow or wind damaging your home.