Inspecting a Home

What to Look for When Inspecting a Home

By Mark J. Donovan

Prior to purchasing a home it is extremely wise to have a home inspection performed by a licensed and professional home inspector. As a matter of fact, a home inspection, with your satisfaction of the results, should be a contingency in the purchase and sales agreement for the home. Moreover some banks insist on a home inspection prior to them approving a loan. Buying a home is a huge commitment from both an expense and time perspective, and so the last thing you want to do is purchase a money pit.

Many home repairs cost a small fortune, particularly if they involve failing mechanical systems, septic systems, or roofs.

Inspecting a home that you are considering buying will give you the information you need up front to either walk away from the deal or have the issues addressed prior to closing on the home.

When inspecting a home there are various items that should be evaluated by the home inspector. Chief among them is an evaluation of the structural integrity of the home and its electrical and mechanical systems. As part of this basic home inspection the home should be thoroughly inspected from the foundation to the roof, and inside and outside of the home. Every appliance, door and window, electrical fixture, and mechanical system should be inspected to confirm that they are in good working order. Any that are not should be noted in the home inspector’s report.

Also, key areas such as in the basement, attic, and crawl spaces should be inspected for water damage or leaks. Moreover, the home should be checked for proper insulation. In addition, when inspecting a home, signs of pest damage and infestation should be evaluated. Also, the home should be checked for hazardous building materials, such as asbestos, Formaldehyde and lead paint. Homes built prior to 1979 are very apt to include hazardous building materials. Samples of potential hazardous materials should be sent out to appropriate labs for evaluation. Pricing your house to sell.

On the exterior of the home, any on-property septic systems should be fully examined. Both the septic tank and leach field should be evaluated for proper operation and maintenance. A failed leach field could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. The home inspector should ask to see maintenance records of the septic tank.

The water supply should also be thoroughly tested to ensure it contains no contaminants or bacteria that could be hazardous to the home’s occupants. In addition, the home’s water storage tank, supply lines, and plumbing fixtures should be evaluated for corrosion and leaks. Also, pressure relief valves on hot water tanks should be confirmed installed.

If appliances are to be sold with the home, they too should be inspected to confirm that they are fully operational and safe to operate. The home inspector should ask for any documentation of service on the appliances.

Upon the completion of the home inspection, the homeowner should provide you with an extensive report of his findings, and a summary narrative of his overall opinion on the state of the home.

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Any concerns you have with the home inspection should be brought to the attention of the sellers to see if they will repair them or if they will reduce the price of the home to allow you to repair them. If they fail to make the repairs, or if your simply scared off by the results of the home inspection, then use your rights in the purchase and sales agreement to walk away from the deal.

To find a home inspector in your local area check the American Home inspector Directory, which maintains a national database of home inspectors. Similarly you can find a home inspector via Renovation Expert’s national database of contractors and home inspectors. Simply fill out their free form and 3 to 4 home inspectors in your local area will contact you. There is no charge or obligation to use this service or any one of the home inspectors.

For help on building a home addition, see’s Home Addition Bid Sheets. Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home addition project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home addition building costs.

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