A seller will provide you with a Property Sellers Disclosure when you are purchasing a home. However, as a buyer you do not want to rely completely on the Property Seller Disclosure statement.
In your excitement to buy a home, it is easy to miss a small crack in the foundation, some leaky pipes under the house, or a roof that needs replaced. The sellers work hard to make the home look as desirable as possible but looks don't tell the whole story. That's where your home inspection comes in.
Your home purchase is one of the biggest investments of your life, and it's important to know exactly what your buying. The best way to ensure this is through a professional home inspection.
Types of Inspections
1. Home/Property Inspection - Inspection is done of the Property's structural componets. The inspection would include items below however, speak with your Realtor and Home Inspector to sure exactly what you are having inspected.
Keep in mind that an inspector is not a specialist in each of these areas. If during the inspection if he/she sees something of concern, he/she may recommend having an additional inspection. For example, the inspector may find a cracked heat exchanger in the furnace and may recommend that the furnace be inspected by a HVAC person for verification.
2. Wood Infestation - Inspection of the property for wood-destroying insect infestation (ex. carpenter ants, termites, carpenter bees). Remember that it will be the buyer's responsibility to request treatment or repairs if needed.
3. Radon - Radon is a radioactive gas produced in the ground by the natural decay of radium and uranium. Extended exposure to high levels of radon can pose serious health risks. If radon gas has been detected on the property through past testing the seller must disclose this information. It is recommended that if a home has a radon level of 4 pCi/L or more, that you should consult a qualified mitagator to estimate the cost of upgrading to an active system by adding a vent fan to reduce the radon level. For more information on radon, read "A Citizen's Guide to Radon".
4. Water Service - If buyers are concerned about the status of the water system serving the property, they should inspect the system. Buyers tend to be most concerned with on-site systems, usually private wells. Speak with a testing company about what types of tests are available and what contaminants it can detect. Buyers also may want to have an inspector test the flow rate of the well, along with the physical structure of the well and its components. It is not as common, however some buyers may choose to have testing done on a property that uses public water. By having it tested, it could determine if there are problems with the system within the home or with the pipes leading to the home off the main water line, which are often the owner's responsibility.
5. On-Lot Sewage - Some buyers wish to have the on-lot sewage such as a septic system tested to determine the condition of the on-site sewage disposal system. It is a good idea to have the sewage disposal system inspected unless current date and/or documentation is available to verify the current status of the system.
6. Lead-Based Paint Hazards - As a buyer, you have the right to carry out an inspection risk assessment and/or inspection for the presense of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards. When purchasing your home, you should receive a pamphlet titled Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home and a disclosure from the seller about the seller's knowledge of the lead-based pain on the property if the property was build prior to 1978.
For more information on inspections, be sure to speak to your Realtor and also review your options available on your sales agreement.
REMEMBER: Hiring a home inspector DOES NOT guarantee that everything will be perfect with the property, or that the inspector will always discover all the problems with the property.