I never encourage anyone to waive their rights to a home inspection. Only on very rare occasions may it make sense to waive this because this is your one opportunity to do due diligence on a property before being contractually committed to purchasing it. Buyers have two decisions to make on the home inspection... which inspections to get and who to hire as the inspector. I have composed this article from a bunch of other articles published to help guide you through those decisions.
A standard home inspection provides you with a detailed report on the home you’re hoping to buy, but it doesn’t tell you everything. It is also important to note that the home inspection will usually notate everything about the home even if those items noted would not be contractually covered as a defective item in the sale contract. The inspector as a paid service is there to report every observation about the home that they assess. I have noted approximate costs, but keep in mind that each inspection company sets their rates and they vary from company to company and house to house. Exact costs must be obtained from the company for that specific address, which can be provided up front to help you make your decision.
Depending on the age, location and condition of the home you’re considering, you may need additional inspections. Radon testing, termite inspection, mold inspection and foundation inspection are among the most common of these specialized types of home inspections. Another service provided by inspection companies that I recommend for homes in SW Florida is the wind mitigation. The inspector will do an evaluation and documentation (wind mitigation certificate) to notate all the structural elements of the home that protect against wind damage. These inspections typically run about $100-$150 but save hundreds with your home insurance every year.
What is included in a home inspection?
Home inspectors typically conduct a visual inspection of all parts of the property that are readily accessible. The standard home inspection costs will vary based on size of home and number of major systems (e.g. AC units). They typically start around $500 and go up from there. Find out if your lender will require a 4-Point inspection as that will typically add on about $150 to this cost due to the detailed report that is required. These may be required on older homes.
Parts of the home that are commonly included in a home inspection:
That leaves out anything that’s not easily viewed (or even visible), like some types of pest infestation, as well as any areas that are hard to safely reach (think wells and chimney interiors).
Different types of home inspections
Depending on what they find, your home inspector may suggest some of these additional inspections. They may also recommend that a knowledgeable tradesperson evaluate any issues identified (having an electrician look at faulty wiring, for example).
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that results from the gradual breakdown of radioactive elements in the Earth. It is released from well water, building materials and soil, and can enter your home through cracks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the surgeon general’s office estimate that, after smoking, radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. And it’s everywhere — according to the EPA, roughly 1 in 15 homes has an elevated radon level. A professional radon inspector can report results within days of completing a 48-hour test. Radon tests typically run about $150-$200. Note, if radon mitigation is required because the radon levels tested at higher than 4, the system typically costs $1,500 - $2,300. If it is caught as a part of your home inspection, you can request that the seller takes responsibility for mitigation.
Wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection
More commonly called a termite inspection, a wood-destroying organism inspection ensures your future home doesn’t already have six-legged tenants. Termites, wood-boring beetles and carpenter ants are among the most concerning culprits, though WDO inspectors will also look for dry rot caused by fungi. If you’re using a VA loan or FHA loan, a WDO inspection may be required. Pest/Terminate inspections typically cost about $100. However, if a WDO report is required by the lender, the cost could be a little higher. Find out from your lender if they require a WDO report.
During a WDO inspection, the inspector will look for signs of active infestation (shed termite wings), signs of past infestation (soft wood) and potential trouble spots (crevices or gaps that could let in pests). You’ll get a report with detailed findings, as well as suggestions for addressing any issues that come up.
The EPA’s recommendation about mold testing is essentially if you see mold, you’ve got mold — and you might need to go straight to remediation. But if you’re concerned about what you can’t see (or smell), a home mold inspection may be in order. A mold inspector uses a moisture meter to detect dampness in drywall, insulation and other building materials. They may also take air samples from inside and outside the home. Mold inspections usually cost around $300-$350.
A home inspector will look at the house’s foundation and note potential issues like drainage problems, nearby tree roots, cracks or other indications of movement. If anything looks worrisome, the inspector may suggest having the property examined by a residential structural engineer. A structural engineer can provide a comprehensive inspection of the foundation, diagnose the causes of any issues and explain how they can be addressed.]
The federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978, but older homes and even some built since then still can contain it. Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal that poses many risks to the human body. If the home was built prior to 1978, you may consider having an inspection done to detect lead.
Sewer or septic system inspection
A septic system inspection will check for items such as when the tank was last pumped, the sludge level, proximity of the tank and drainfield to wells and streams, and whether the tank is the right size for the house, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.A septic inspection can cost $100 to $250. Add an additional $50 to $250, based on the depth of the tank, if the inspector has to uncover the tank.
Although getting your inspections in order can add to the stress of homebuying, experts emphasize that it’s better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, consult your general home inspector or your real estate agent about any additional inspections they recommend and which professionals in the area they trust to get the job done.
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