Updated: Jan 29
You have surfed the internet and have all the information you need to determine what kind of house or investment property that you want to purchase. You have worked with your real estate agent to locate your ideal property, negotiate the sale terms and sign the contract. Your next step is to arrange for a professional property inspection. Generally, the property inspection needs to be completed within 10 to 15 days after you sign the contract. The property inspection is critical for you to find out the condition of the property and make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the purchase. There are several key items that you should pay attention to in connection with every property inspection.
One key thing to confirm is the qualifications and experience of the inspector. Some inspectors are licensed general contractors and others have relevant experience in construction and in the evaluation of properties. Your friends or co-workers or your real estate agent may be able to recommend an inspector that they have used in other transactions with positive results.
A professional inspection should include a very detailed evaluation and report on the condition of the property. The American Society of Home Inspectors defines a home inspection as an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a property. The inspector will examine the foundation, basement and structural components of the house as well as the roof, attic, insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. They will also examine the electrical, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems and all of the major appliances, Finally, they will examine the surface condition of paint, wallpaper, carpet, tile, and countertops and advise on any potential repair items.
Some insurance companies specifically require a “Four Point Inspection”. What is a Four Point Inspection? A four-point inspection focuses only on four main areas of interest in the property:
· HVAC----Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning: A home inspector will check out if the HVAC systems are working very well and estimate the remaining useful life of the AC system. This is helpful so that you know when you may need to replace this system.
· Electrical wiring and panels: For older buildings and homes, the inspection should include an evaluation of whether the electrical systems comply with the current building codes and whether they will need to be upgraded in connection with any future renovation or expansion of the building.
· Plumbing connections and fixtures: The inspection report will inform you whether all pipes and plumbing connections for water and sewer systems are working well. It may also advise if there are any portions of the systems that are likely to need major repairs or replacement in the future. Homes with septic tanks may require a separate inspection of the septic tank and drain field.
· Roof: An inspector will confirm whether there are any existing roof leaks or other roof issues and provide an estimate of how long your roof may last before it needs to be replaced. The inspector may also make recommendations for repairs. There are some new products that can be used to fix a leaking roof very well and extend the roof life for several years.
Two other important items of focus for the inspection are termites and mold.
There are two basic types of termites, dry wood and subterranean, both of which can cause severe damage to your property. Dry wood termites live and nest in the dry wood of your property and eat away the value of your property. Subterranean termites live and nest underground and can destroy the structural integrity of an entire roof and wall of a home in a few months. Termite inspections are a key item of focus for homes that are built with wood framing for the structure or that have wood siding. There are separately licensed termite inspectors and most lenders will require a clear termite inspection as a condition to financing a property.
Besides termites, mold can also receive a lot of attention in a home inspection. Most inspections include a visual inspection for any evidence of mold, but do not include an air quality test. If the inspector indicates that mold could be a potential problem, it is possible to obtain a separate mold inspection. When moisture problems occur in a home or building, mold can grow in the property. Eliminating moisture can prevent mold growth. Once the material is dry, mold growth stops. The home inspector will examine the AC filter and suggest you change the AC filter frequently. It is recommended that the air filter be changed at least 6 times a year.
A property inspection is essential to help buyers to make their purchase decision and inform buyers of potential maintenance, repair and replacement costs they may incur in the future regarding their property. If you are obtaining a loan to acquire your property, the lender may require a comprehensive home inspection as a loan condition. Your real estate agent can refer you to some experts in the inspection field to help make your purchase easy and smooth.