home inspection

The Ultimate Guide to Home Inspections When Buying a House

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I’m often asked by my buyer clients about inspections.

Buying a home is a major decision, both in life and in terms of finances. You want to make sure that the property you’re purchasing is in good standing order and isn’t going to pose any harm to you and your family.

This means a top priority will be getting the home inspected by a reputable home inspection company.

There are several different home inspection companies out there. A lot of them will cover a full range of services and some are more specialized.

I recommend sorting through the best ones by searching on Google or consulting your friends, family, or your Realtor for recommendations.

home inspection companies

What Should I Look For On My Own Before Making an Offer?

While shopping for homes, you’ll probably tour a few properties before choosing one. When you finally find “the one”. Start to examine the following areas and take notes so that you can bring those areas to the attention of your home inspector.

  • Foundation: Do you see any cracks or unevenness on the baseboards, all the way up to the ceiling? How does the exterior look?
  • Roof: Figure out when it was last replaced, if ever, and determine its quality visually.
  • Attic: Check for leaks and poor stability.
  • Lot: Are there signs of poor drainage (larges patches of dirt) or are any tree roots too close to the foundation?
  • Exterior: Is the home in need of a paint job? Are there signs of erosion or burnouts? Clean gutters?
  • Basement/Crawlspace: Signs of dampness? Is it insulated or finished? (You may want to wait for a professional before inspecting a crawlspace).
  • Electrical: Be advised, inspecting electrical systems is extremely dangerous and should be handled by a professional. However, a safe and simple way for you is to check to see if the lights turn on and if they’re dim or not. You can also check outlets for damage or wear and tear.
  • Plumbing: Are there any noticeable leaks or loud noises within the pipes?
  • HVAC: HVAC is the heating/cooling system of the home. You’ll want to check the system for noticeable damage and functionality.
  • Appliances: If included with the sale, how old are the units and do they work?

Overview of Inspection Services

Once you finish your personal inspections and you’re under contract for the home, it will be time for you to request a home inspector.

Here’s a general breakdown of important home inspection services:

  • General Home Inspection
  • Pests/Insects
  • Lead Paint
  • Well Water
  • Radon
  • Septic
  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Smoke/Carbon Monoxide

1. General Home Inspection

The whole property will need to be evaluated.

Basic inspections like electrical, plumbing, roof, foundation, mold, and more are included in the general home inspection.

This inspection will be completed in two phases, exterior and interior.

Common Exterior Problems:

  • Structural issues
  • Chimney cracks
  • Roof deterioration
  • Gutter failure
  • Window deterioration

Common Interior Problems:

The exterior is generally the first phase of the inspection. Once finished, the inspector moves to the basement (if applicable), where many issues can be identified off the bat.

Then, they’ll make their way up the home until completion.

2. Pests/Insects Inspection

We all know that pests are a major issue and can easily sway your opinion on whether you purchase the home or not.

It’s super important that you get a pest inspector to visit the property and make their evaluation.

You can do your due diligence and try to identify any issues beforehand, such as looking for the presence of termites.

You and your inspector are on the same team, so try to help them by figuring out issues before they arrive just in case they miss something.

Bats also tend to live in attics and mice are common in older homes. Be on the lookout for any signs.

3. Lead-Based Paint Inspection

Any homeowner selling a property built before 1978 is required by U.S. law to provide a lead-based paint disclosure during the sale of that property.

While the lead-based paint won’t harm you unless digested, disclosure is still required.

lead paint inspection

It’s also the only federally mandated home disclosure law.

If you plan on having children or already do, then I strongly recommend changing out the paint.

The home inspector will be sure to let you know about the presence of lead paint or not.

4. Well-Water Inspection

Most homes are hooked into a public water service, but in the mountains of North Carolina and my market of Asheville, there are many homes that are built with a well.

If this is the case for the property you’re buying, then you’ll want to have the well inspected.

During these inspections, the inspector will be evaluating the quality of the water and the flow rate.

If the property runs on a well and you fail to inspect it. Any issues that occur down the line are extremely expensive to fix and will set you back a huge chunk of change.

Be sure to do your due diligence!

5. Radon Inspection

Radon is a radioactive material that can get trapped in a home and become a serious hazard to its occupants.

It’s dangerous at a 4pCi/L level and must be remediated at that point.

radon inspection
Common levels of radon in the United States by zone. Data provided by EPA.

The process of removing airborne radon is through a vacuum. A company will come in with a special tube that pulls the material from the air and expels it from the home.

However, radon can also contaminate water. Make sure you cover all your corners during an inspection.

The typical cost of radon removal is between $800-$1500 depending on market conditions. Waterborne radon is even more pricey.

6. Septic Inspection

In North Carolina, septic systems require a permit, which limits the number of bedrooms that can be identified in the home.

A septic permit that supports four people means that the home can be considered a two-bedroom home, but nothing more.

Septic systems are fairly common in North Carolina, especially in the rural areas surrounding Asheville.

Real estate agents are held accountable for any false disclosures about the presence of septic systems and the capacity of persons they hold, so be sure everyone is on the same page about this issue.

7. Mold Inspection

Anywhere moisture is able to build up are prime grounds for the growth of mold.

Thorough searches for mold are a part of every home inspection because it’s usually one of the first things a homebuyer will ask about.

Not all molds are dangerous, but some, such as Stachybotrys chartarum aka “Black Mold” is the real threat.

Black Mold can cause serious health issues and will get worse over time. Be sure to pay attention before and after purchasing your property for any mold that has a greenish-blue color to it.

8. Asbestos Inspection

Once commonly used to insulate homes, asbestos was found to cause lung cancer years after inhalation.

Most cases were due to working in close proximity to insulation. Disturbing insulation that contains asbestos causes it to flow into the air. Once inhaled, the large particles stick to the lungs, and commonly cause cancer later in life.

Home inspections will inform you if there is a potential presence of asbestos. The only way to truly identify whether asbestos is present is to have a piece of the material in question sent to a lab and tested.

While it may be totally fine to leave a home as-is if deemed to contain the potential for asbestos, as the only way for it to become harmful is if it’s disturbed, which causes the particles to go airborne.

However, it’s important to be cautious. Evaluate your options and the cost of replacement before making a final decision.

9. Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector Inspection

In North Carolina, there are various regulations for smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and their placement within a dwelling.

Obviously, it’s in your best interest to have all your detectors fully functioning and up to standards.

Be sure that your home inspector takes a look at them to ensure your safety in case of an emergency.

Final Thoughts

Home inspections are key during your due diligence period after going under contract for a house.

The good thing is that during this period, in the event something comes up that leads you to void the contract, this is your opportunity to do so with little penalty.

This is also a time where you can evaluate your total closing costs with repairs and improvements in mind.

Remember, most homes will have flaws and it’s important to understand that when approaching the negotiating table. Unreasonable requests are not advised as it might ruin your relations with the Seller.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on social media @matthewmyre or by navigating to the contact page where you can find my email.

Stay Classy.

Matthew Myre

Matthew Myre

Matthew is a North Carolina real estate agent and the CEO of Berri Properties. Matthew brought his passion for writing to his career by creating the Berri Properties Blog, which now ranks as one of the Top 50 Best Real Estate Blogs in the world. His favorite things are basketball, history, politics, and popcorn. Feel free to contact him at matthew@berriluxuryproperties.com

Matthew Myre

Matthew is a North Carolina real estate agent and the CEO of Berri Properties. Matthew brought his passion for writing to his career by creating the Berri Properties Blog, which now ranks as one of the Top 50 Best Real Estate Blogs in the world. His favorite things are basketball, history, politics, and popcorn. Feel free to contact him at matthew@berriluxuryproperties.com
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