You’ve decided to buy a house. The next logical step is a home inspection. This is a step that some buyers may want to waive to save a few bucks but we strongly urge them not to. Remember, this is hundreds of thousands of dollars we are talking here on a powerful investment. Why wouldn’t you spend a few extra bucks knowing all you can about it?
But that’s another post… back to the things inspectors won’t touch! You would think that a professional inspector should be able to tell you everything about the house, right? Wrong. Inspectors don’t know everything about everything. They know a lot about quite a few things but rarely are experts in one field. They take classes and learn how to inspect and experience is worth it’s weight in gold for sure. The more homes an inspector has reviewed, the better they get. This is probably not the time to hire the newbie that just got his license. Yes, they all have to start somewhere, but for those in the know, let it not be your house.
Your real estate agent should have a good list of referred and preferred inspectors that they work with. While it is totally your choice on whom you use, it helps to have some suggestions to reference. Home inspections are typically $300 – $800 depending on the size of the house and what’s involved.
But back to it: Here are some things a home inspector won’t inspect.
The roof. Most inspectors are not certified nor qualified to inspect the roof. They may be able to tell you that it’s great or that it needs repair off a simple looksy, but only a professional roof installer will be able to tell you whether or not you need it replaced and how much time the roof has before needs to be replaced.
Chimney and fireplaces. If your home inspector suspects instability or structural damage to the chimney or fireplace it’s best to hire a specialist. They will use the chimney camera to inspect the chimney from the inside to uncover any hidden damage.
Sewer and septic. The sewer or septic expert can’t get a better idea of the security and integrity of your sewer line or your septic tank. A septic tank specialist will be able to tell if the tank needs to be pumped, when it was last pump and its stability.
Pest inspection. Termites or other wood damaging organisms and pests should be inspected by a professional. Many mortgage companies or banks will require a past inspection before approving alone on the home. Home inspectors should be able to enter the crawlspace to determine any structural damage that is visible but a termite or pest inspection specialist would be able to give a better report to banks and mortgage brokers.
Mold and toxins. A specialist should be able to tell you of moisture, mold, and noxious fumes, gas or radon has been present in the home. Most home inspectors will not be able to give a thorough report of this type of inspection and if there is any suspicion of mold or mildew it’s best to have a professional inspection. Lead and asbestos is also something that needs a professional inspection if you’re unsure the home contains it. Asbestos should be removed professionally and lead is something in many homes built prior to 1975.
Other items that might be of concern would be a nonconforming use inspection which even though doesn’t require an additional inspection could be used to research any major changes, additions and remodels that have not been properly permit it.
Home inspections are a vital step to the home buying process but if at any time the inspector suggests an additional inspection, it’s best to do so.