Types Of Home Inspections Buyers May Get: Which Are You Getting
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Buyers may not be aware of the different types of inspections that they can get or may need beyond a general or basic home inspection.
Review the list and see if you may have overlooked an important inspection for your home. Occasionally a governmental agency or an insurance company may require a special inspection.
Note: At times a home inspector may recommend a roof inspection, but rather than to call it a roof inspection, he may say that he recommends a “licensed roofing contractor review the roof” or a licensed plumbing contractor review the plumbing system” or a component of it. Often, considered to be the same thing but in different wording.
Pool and spa inspections
Many buyers think that if they have a home inspection, that if there is a pool, that the home inspector will inspect the pool. In most areas, the pool is not included. There are some home inspectors that will include the pool, but for an additional fee.
Note that a pool inspection by a home inspector may not include as much as one done by a professional pool inspector company. In example testing of the water chemical balance or operating remote or automated pool systems and monitoring equipment. They may not include operating and testing water features such as water falls, fountains and water slides. Learn more about Pool and Spa inspections
Home inspectors general inspect a roof for defects, should they not be able to see all of the roof or spot possible defects, they often recommend having a professional roofer look at the roof for a more in-depth analysis.
Note that some home inspectors will not inspect roofs that they deem too high or steep for safety reasons. Should the roof be a concrete tile roof, slate or some other types of roofing materials they may not walk the roof for fear of damaging it. In these instances they may also recommend a specialty roof inspection.
Mold and Mildew Inspection
All homes have some form of mold and mildew, but usually in small amounts and not harmful to ones health. Even though not all molds are harmful there are a few that are. Under a few circumstances questions may arise or there may be evidence of possible mold and a buyer may desire a mold and mildew inspection
Depending on where you live in the country may affect whether you should have a radon inspection. Consulting the home inspector and your agent can usually spread light on whether or not to get one.
If soil or some foundation issues are of concern, then a geotechnical inspection may provide information about these concerns. Areas that have expansive soils, prone to landslides or slope creep, or movement are more likely to have a geotechnical inspection than ones with rock, limestone or high bearing capacities.
Homes that have evidence of above average movement or cracking of foundations and walls, as well as structural damage are more likely to have a geotechnical inspection.
Soils and geotechnical issues can cause foundation problems, however, a special inspection of the foundation may be needed because there was a second story addition added to the home and there was no permit. Thus, the building department, in order to issue a permit, may want a foundation inspection to see how deep and wide the existing foundation is, is there proper steel reinforcement in the foundation, what the concrete strength is.
Furnaces, air-conditioners and other types of heating and cooling equipment can be checked or reviewed by an HVAC contractor. Generally a home inspection will do a preliminary inspection of heating and cooling systems. If the home inspector notes problems with these systems, he may recommend a higher level of inspection by an HVAC contractor or qualified technician.
Additionally, systems, such as geothermal, solar thermal, old boilers and older radiant systems may require an inspection by a contractor or inspector that is knowledgeable of these types of systems.
Fireplace & Chimney Inspection
Buyers often get confused about fireplace inspections, chimney inspections and a chimney sweep. Generally a fireplace inspection is referred to as a chimney inspection, which will include both the fireplace and chimney. A chimney sweep normally deals with cleaning the chimney, not an official inspection.
There are basically three levels of a chimney (fireplace) inspection. There are Level 1, 2 or 3 inspections. Learn more
Sewer Line Inspections Videoed
Home inspectors basically inspect the sewer lines. Parts of a sewer line that an inspector can see, i.e. in the crawl space area under the home, he will inspect. However, he can not see inside of these or the buried sewer lines.
Having the sewer line videoed is part of a sewer inspection. Videoing helps find sewer pipes that have:
- Roots in sewer line
- Off-set pipes
- Collapsed sewer lines
Lines with a “belly” or sags; and water standing in line normally will come to light.
Septic system inspection
Septic tank and leach field inspections are often required, but not always, in order to complete the purchase of a home that has a septic system. Some states require an inspection or certification and in some of those that don’t there may be some counties that do.
Lenders may require an inspection of the system on some properties before they will make a loan. Regardless of the state, county or lender requirements, buyers should get a septic system inspection.
Termite & Pest Control Inspection
The leading cause of damage to a home is termites (wood destroying organisms). Also, fungi and wood rot is normally included in the inspection
Electrical and Plumbing inspections
A home inspector or a buyer may discover electrical or plumbing issues or concerns that require a higher level or more extensive investigation of the issues or concerns. If a home has knob and tube electrical wiring in the attic, under sized wiring for the breakers or load, flickering lights or double tapping, the home inspector may recommend an electrical inspection or review by a licensed electrical contractor. The same concept applies to plumbing issues or concerns and a licensed plumbing contractor would be recommended to do a plumbing inspection or review.
At times the recommendation may be for just one specific component, i.e. just the electrical panel or the recommendation may be for the entire electrical system.
Lead paint assessments and inspections
Homes built after 1978 usually have little risk of having lead paint. Homes built before 1978 may have lead paint. Buyers who are concerned about lead paint issues can obtain an onsite risk assessment investigation and inspection to help determine what lead based hazards may exist in the home, including the outside soils.
Buyers or families with small children who are renovating older homes may have questions about lead paint.
The EPA has a number of good articles about lead paint concerns and issues.