A home inspection is one of the most common contingencies to be included in a real estate contract. Even if a home is only a couple of years old, anything can happen, which is why it’s important to take the opportunity to have the home inspected before your purchase agreement goes firm.
While certain minor issues can be quickly and easily fixed with minimal cost and effort, other issues are much more severe and can wind up costing tens of thousands of dollars to fix. It’s these types of issues that may prompt buyers to walk away from a deal, but without a home inspection clause, the opportunity to uncover such issues is lost.
As important as home inspections are, they don’t necessarily cover absolutely everything under the sun when it comes to issues with a home. As such, there are plenty of other types of specialized inspections that can be undertaken in order to uncover certain problems with a home that will require further attention.
It’s easy to spot mice and cockroaches in a home, as well as the damage that they leave behind. Termites, on the other hand, are not readily seen and can wreak havoc behind the walls and under floors of a home. A termite inspector will take the time to look in a property’s crawl space and attic and look for any evidence that termites are around and chewing up the beams. They’ll also look for dry rot that can disintegrate the wood and leave it unable to support the home’s structure.
If the subject property was built before 1980, there’s a good possibility that asbestos is lingering within some of the materials, including insulation, window caulking, and popcorn ceiling. While not dangerous when left alone, asbestos can be hazardous if it is broken up and disturbed. Once its particles become airborne, they can be easily inhaled, which can lead to serious medical conditions, including cancer. An asbestos inspector will look for signs of asbestos and conduct patch tests to identify its presence.
If the soil upon which the home sits is contaminated, a professional soil inspector will be able to confirm this. Testing the soil for contamination is especially helpful for those who plan on doing a lot of gardening. You might also want to have the soil tested if the house is located atop a hill to see if it’s stable enough to withstand incumbent weather that could cause the home to slide away.
Mold can easily be spotted if it’s on the outside of window sills, trim, ceilings, and walls. But if lurks behind drywall, in attics or crawl spaces, a typical home inspector might not be able to find it. A specialized mold inspector will scope out the home and be able to conduct tests on spores and look into areas that may have been subject to past water damage.
If there is anything wrong with the home’s furnace or air conditioner, an HVAC specialist will be able to identify if there is anything wrong. If there is, you’ll be informed about the approximate cost to fix the problem, or whether the units will need to be replaced.
Pool and Spa
Experienced pool and spa professionals will be able to conduct an inspection of these amenities to ensure critical components such as the heaters or filters are functioning properly.
Sewer / Septic System
Older homes or properties located in more rural areas might not be connected to a city sewer system. In these cases, a sewer or septic system inspection is warranted. Experts in this field use digital cameras that are placed in sewer lines and pushed through to the main line to identify if there are any blockages or other issues that put the home in a compromised position.
Old galvanized plumbing pipes may need to be inspected by a plumber, especially since the chances of them being clogged are much higher compared to more modern copper pipes. If severe blockages are identified, the pipes may need to be replaced.
If a home is older or has been renovated over the years, it’s possible that the electrical wiring has been played with. If the job was done properly, then there’s nothing to worry about. But if the rewiring work was shoddy, not only will it violate building codes, it can even lead to a fire hazard. An experienced electrician will be able to identify any faulty wires that may need to be rewired to bring the home back up to par.
Radon is a radioactive gas that’s naturally found in soil and rock, and can be found at concentrated levels in a home. Small levels of radon in a home may be fine, but elevated levels can be dangerous when exposed to over the long haul and can even lead to cancer. A mitigation contractor will be able to test for the presence of radon in the home and recommend ways to eliminate it.
A wood-burning fireplace might be an attractive feature in a home, but the chimney that releases its smoke might need to be checked. A chimney inspector will ensure that smoke is being ventilated properly and that the interior bricks and flue liners are in decent shape.
The Bottom Line
There are so many facets of a home that make it extremely difficult for a traditional home inspector to be able to uncover every issue that may be present. Depending on the type, age, condition, and location of a home, you may want to consider calling in specific specialized inspectors to make sure there are no major problems with the home that you’ll wind up taking over.