Both first-time homebuyers and veteran real-estate investors should do a thorough home inspection before the purchase of a property. A bank doesn’t care how good the home looks on the surface; it needs to see a firm structure and foundation before it will offer funding.
The bank wants to protect its investment and incidentally save you from purchasing a total money pit that will be time-consuming and costly to maintain. You should never purchase a home without ordering an inspection.
A home inspection is almost always performed at the request of the buyer, so you’ll have to pay for it out of pocket. Although it’s only a few hundred dollars for an inspection, that amount gets removed from your down payment savings, and you won’t get it back.
For that reason, many homebuyers will order just a general home inspection, which involves the basics in each category. They might also opt for a general inspection because they aren’t aware of the variety of potential inspections available to them.
Savvy homebuyers will do some homework before ordering an inspection. Not only will they hire an inspector who has a solid reputation for doing thorough work, but they’ll also order extra inspections based on the needs of the structure.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, since the results of the inspection may save you from purchasing a money pit or be used as part of the negotiations over the final purchase price.
You won’t need a thorough inspection on every facet of the home, but depending on its age and location, you may want more than just a basic home inspection. To help you decide what’s best, here’s an array of common home-inspection options.
- General Home Buyer
Most homebuyers request a general home inspection at least, during which the expert will check basic features. He or she will check the roof, foundation, paint, safety standards, electrical coding, and other items at a rudimentary level in search of glaring problems.
The inspector will likely render several findings, especially with an older home, but he or she won’t perform a thorough study of every area, which is why you might prefer a more detailed inspection for particular items.
If you live in an area where natural disasters occur regularly, such as Houston, a disaster inspection is a smart move. The inspector will check for damage from major hurricanes or other natural catastrophes, and tell you how the property fared from such events, and how well it may withstand another.
Your inspector will note conspicuous faults such as large cracks or water seepage in the foundation, but might not recognize whether the foundation is sliding. A foundation engineer can do a more thorough check if you note suspicious cracks or strange, unexplained sloping during the general home inspection. That could be a deal breaker.
The outside of your HVAC system might look great, but you won’t know its quality or potential damage unless you take it apart. An HVAC specialist can provide a more comprehensive analysis of your HVAC unit and forecast how soon it may have to be replaced.
- Wood-Destroying Pests
Evidence of wood-destroying pests may not appear until it’s too late. The house you’re planning to purchase could be infested with termites or powder post beetles, but without a pest inspector’s exam, you wouldn’t know. An inspector can also identify dry rot, which could drive serious deterioration of the property.
If you’re purchasing an older home with a wood-burning fireplace, order a chimney inspection. Sometimes older chimneys don’t have flue liners, or the brick could be crumbling inside the structure. Both issues may cause blockage and improper smoke discharge, which poses a serious safety issue.
The general inspection will search the electrical box for coding issues, but won’t look inside the walls for faulty wiring or other fire hazards that stem from electrical issues. An electrician can study this facet more thoroughly and help you replace a faulty system.
- Lead-Based Paint
Many homes built before 1978 were decorated with lead-based paint, which wasn’t outlawed until then. Airborne, lead can cause serious health conditions, up to premature death. It’s extremely expensive to replace lead-based paint, so if you’re looking at an older home, this would be a good inspection to include.
Asbestos is another dangerous yet common feature of homes built before 1973. It’s often found in the insulation. When airborne, it can cause upper-respiratory illness and other health problems. This is another highly expensive and high-risk problem to solve, so buyers of older homes are advised to check for it.
A pool and spa are attractive items, but they can be money pits if you aren’t careful. An expert will examine each unit and give you the life expectancy as well as check key components of filtering systems, heaters, and blowers.
An inspector will also check for leaks and help you understand the warranties. If you’re purchasing a home with a pool and/or spa you plan to use, this inspection comes highly recommended.
- Sewer or Septic System
If there’s any uncertainty about the sewer or septic system, get an inspection. When you purchase a home in town, odds are it’s connected to the sewer system. But if you live outside of town or on its edge, you might not be. Homes with old septic systems should also undergo a septic inspection to make sure things are working properly.
- Soil Stability
For homes built on a hill, a soil stability inspection is highly recommended. A structure on unsteady soil could shift during a heavy rainstorm. There’s also the risk of higher soil contamination. An inspector will make sure it’ll be secure no matter what comes your way.
Unhealthy trees can infect the grass and other plants, which will downgrade your landscaping. An arborist can tell you whether the trees are healthy and worth keeping. He or she can also warn you about tree roots that could puncture your sewer lines and cause serious plumbing problems down the road.
Some mold grows on surfaces within your home and can be wiped away easily before it causes a problem. However, mold can also grow inside your walls and create future health problems. The only way to tell is to run a test. It’ll be expensive and time-consuming to remove it if it’s there.
- Radon or Methane Gas
Below-grade levels pose a higher risk for radon or methane gas. Low levels are harmless, but if they get too high, you and your family could get sick. In some cases, homes with finished basements might require such a test to make sure the air is of an acceptable quality.
Contact Green Residential Today!
Selecting the right home inspections can be challenging, which underscores the value of hiring a great Realtor. The realty team at Green Residential have your best interest in mind.
We know the Houston area better than anyone, and we can offer guidance on both finding the perfect home and choosing the ideal inspections. For more information about what we can do for you, contact us today!