Pre-Purchase Home Inspections are important for any prospective property buyer for two big reasons. First it provides you information about the condition of the property so you can haggle price and second if the condition is such that improvement costs outweigh the resulting resale value or conditions are so bad that total demolition of the property is required you will know before you make any decisions.
If you are an investor inspection is practically a must because as an investor you will need either fast turn around or quick repairs for rental. Either way you will have to be up to code and not knowing about an existing problem will delay your turn around.
Private inspections are usually performed by a trained and certified technician that needs proof of training in order to get a State License. This does not mean they work for the State or that they can perform building inspections it just means that they can look through your home and tell you the general condition of the structure, electrical, plumbing and appliances. They may also offer mold and radon testing and other specific tests but they are not the total answer to information on all parts of the home.
Many inspectors will have a background in the trades but others may have entered into the business from real estate or even just a general business background. If your State does not require licensing and certification then it is important that you inquire about your inspectors qualifications.
When inspecting a home a check list will be used and then provided to you stating the conditions of different parts of the building. Most likely a rating system of Good, Poor, Bad, Dangerous or similar will be used to describe the items and then where necessary pictures and a longer paragraph of information should be provided.
When items such as a roof or furnace are rated as dangerous that means they are not up to code due to needed repairs and they require total replacement. For any UL approved device the inspector should be able to provide you with manufacturer recall information. However, because of the number of products out there they may not have information for each and every item in the home. Many older furnaces were built by local manufacturers and in this case it is best to get both a home inspector and a furnace repair tech to give you a pass or fail on the device.
The following is a list of some of the items that should be covered in a basic home inspection.
Framing / Foundation
Block or Concrete Walls
Roof Trusses / Rafters
Decking and Floor Materials
Interior and exterior Walls for plumb
Interior Floors and Foundation for level
Exterior Siding or Masonry
Windows – Fit, Structure and Temper
Doors Fire rating and operation
Water Flow Rate
Hot water availability Rating
Sewage Line Flow Rate
Fixtures Interior and Hose Bibs
Absence of Lead Pipe on Feed Lines
Absence of ABS in some Locations
Surge Pressure Tank before water heater connection
Circuit Breaker Box and Fuse Ratings
Ground and Outlet Polarity
Proper Amperage for each Circuit
Roofing / Attic
Decking and Shingles
Fireplace Masonry and Flue Operation
Venting for Furnace and Water Heater
Grading to control the direction of flow for rain water
Trees for general health
There are as many or more items to check then are listed above and understanding how you inspect each area takes both training and practice.
In the near future we will be providing a downloadable PDF File for Home and Property inspections that will cover details about how you as the buyer can examine your potential property even before you hire a Certified Home Inspector.
It is also important to know that many lenders and insurance companies will require an inspection of the property before they will lend or write you a policy.
This is an important aspect to understand especially if you are a Property Investor that may be interested in purchasing a building that will not initially pass inspection. In that case you will have to work closely with your lender and insurance agent and you may need to provide plans and permits to cover the repairs and then apply for Construction not Occupancy related services.