Inspections to Consider When Buying Home

When purchasing a home, we recommended buyers should have a home inspection. This is typically done during the purchase and sale contract's due diligence period. Although the scope of most home inspectors' inspection covers electrical and plumbing systems, the roof, and HVAC systems, if the system is not working properly, the home inspector may recommend further inspections by HVAC, plumbing, electrical or roofing contractors if further evaluation is needed.

Other inspections for the home buyer to consider, outside of the routine home inspection, are:

1) Septic inspection   Even though the toilets flush, it's impossible to know the condition of the tank without having the tank lid removed and tank checked for level of solids to determine if a pump out is required.  It is recommended that the tank be pumped every five years for optimal operation.  Check the seller disclosure statement to find out when the pump was last professionally serviced.

2) Termite inspection  Most lenders no longer require a termite clearance letter for a loan unless it is a VA or FHA loan.  The buyer paying cash or getting a conventional loan is responsible for obtaining the termite clearance letter, if one is desired.  It is my recommendation that the buyer always get a termite clearance letter.  Georgia and Florida are the #1 and #2 states in the nation for termite infestations.  Termite prevention and treatment is not a "DIY" prospect. Having a bond can provide insurance in the event termites infest your property and cause damage.  But the bond must provide for damage and not just a re-treatment.  Check to determine which kind of bond exists on the property, and if it is for re-treatment only, upgrade it to damage as well.  The seller disclosure in Georgia should list what time of bond if is.  I recommend a buyer call the company for confirmation as to what kind of bond it is and confirmation it is transferrable to a new buyer.

3) Radon is a colorless, odorless gas occurring naturally.  I'm seeing more buyers in North Georgia test for radon.  Some transferees moving here as part of a relocation have employers or relocation companies that will require it.   What is an acceptable level of radon?   The average national indoor radon level is 1.3 pCi/L. To this end, the US EPA has set an action level of 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L). At or above this level of radon, the EPA recommends you take corrective measures to reduce your exposure to radon gas. This does not imply that a level below 4.0 pCi/L is considered acceptable. For more information from the EPA on radon, download this Consumer Guide to Radon Reduction.  

4) Stucco Inspection  If you're looking at a home with a synthetic stucco exterior, you might consider a stucco inspection by a qualified stucco contractor.  The stucco contractor can check for cracks, holes, proper maintenance and even gauge the moisture level behind the stucco with a moisture meter.  Homes with synthetic stucco exteriors can last forever if the stucco was applied correctly and proper maintenance has been done.  Water can enter stucco through cracks, around unsealed light fixtures, outlets and the like. Also, in order to get a termite bond, most pest control companies will require that the stucco end (be cut off) before going into the ground to prevent being a conduit for moisture and termites.  You can even purchase a stucco bond to ensure that future problems, if they occur, are covered.   Some sellers will do this prior to putting house on market to give buyers peace of mind and eliminate the need of future worries with stucco problems.  I have used and referred homeowners and buyers to this company for stucco warranties.

5) Pool Inspection  If the home has a pool, the scope of most home inspectors doesn't include a pool inspection.  A pool contractor can check the pump and liner if the pool has one.  Is it a salt water pool or does it rely on chlorine?  Does it have a heater and inside, underwater lighting?   Most pool liners have a useful life of about 10 years old.  It is important to consider the cost of monthly pool maintenance and ascertain the age of the pump and pool liner in budgeting for future expenses.

6) Mold  Mold is outside the realm of most home inspectors and pest control inspectors. The presence of mold inside a home can trigger problems even in healthy people, but small children and people with compromised immune systems seem most susceptible to mold problems.  If a house has a problem with inside moisture or water intrusion in the basement, attic or crawl space, it would be prudent to consider a mold inspection and mitigation if mold is found.

7) Well water  If the home isn't serviced by public water, it will either be a private water system (typically a community well), a private or shared well. If it is a shared well, you will want to locate the well to determine whose property it is on. A community well system is often managed by a company who routinely tests the water. If the well is on neighboring property, then an easement will stipulate usage and who pays what for upkeep and continued service. If it is a private well located on the property you are buying, you will want to have a water test to determine there is no bacteria in the water. If the loan is FHA or VA, the water tests are required as a condition of underwriting, typically. And be sure to check for testing requirements as to what is checked. Sometimes a VA test will require that lead levels be checked as welled. Also, it is helpful to know whether your well is bored or drilled. I have found rare instances of problems when testing water from drilled wells. I have seen bored wells typically experience more issues with water quality.

8) Past history of the address 

I added this to the recommended inspections a buyer consider after learning about buyers who contracted for a home and then learned the day before closing that the home was the site of some alleged crimes that really put them in a bad spot, mentally, wondering if they would have contracted for the home, had they known this. Doing a 'google' search on the address will bring up results, typically, as was in this case.

9) EMR Testing

This I also added recently as a buyer from California told me this was common practice on the west coast.  This buyer purchased a home and wanted this inspection.  More about electric and magnetic fields from power lines can be found here. This is an inpsection buyers might consider if there are power lines on or nearby the property.



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