July 30, 2019

What to Expect During a Home Inspection When Buying a New House

Buying a new house can be a very exciting and nerve-wracking time – it’s a huge investment and mostly likely something that you’re going to be making payments on for many years to come. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you not only have a home inspection, but make sure that your home inspector is looking at the right things.

A home inspection is an opportunity for you to hire an expert to walk through the home and prepare a report that outlines the home’s major components, their current condition, what needs immediate attention and what will require maintenance after you move in.

Keep in mind that no home is perfect. You will probably have a decent sized list of defects on your report, but many will be so minor that it’s not worth requesting them to be fixed immediately and they can be addressed down the road. But there may be some deal breakers on that list so it’s important to review it carefully. The average home inspection takes between 2 and 4 hours to complete.

Inspectors look for a variety of things that could impact the sale of the home. There are 7 major issues that home inspectors look for that can affect the outcome of your sale or cause buyer hesitation when they get the home inspection report. These issues are some of the most expensive and labor-intensive to fix and may pose threats to the safety and function of the house.

Water Damage. Water can cause a variety of issues, most of which are red flags. Water in the basement can be a sign of structural damage, roof leaks or plumbing issues can cause water stains on walls and ceilings. Water can also lead to mold and potentially make the environment toxic. Water damage and mold cost the insurance industry $2.5 billion dollars per year, and the average cost of a home water damage insurance claim is nearly $7,000.

Structural Integrity. Over time, water can cause the soil around the foundation walls to expand. When the water goes away, the soil shrinks and the foundation settles, creating cracks and pathways for water to enter the structure. 25% of all U.S. homes will experience structural distress during their lifetime. The cost to repair or replace foundation can range from $500 to over $10,000, depending on severity.

Roof Damage. A strong roof is necessary to protect a home from weather elements, so a damaged roof could seriously compromise the home and its value. A roof can last for up to 25 years but it’s wise for homeowners to inspect their roofs once a year. A deteriorating roof could lead to more extensive issues like leaks in the ceiling or pest infestation, and buyers will consider this when negotiating the price of a home.

Electrical Systems. Distribution or lighting equipment in the home remains the 4th leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Home inspectors make absolutely sure that you are aware of any electrical issues in the house. A licensed electrician can determine if electrical issues are simple fixes or need to be replaced entirely.

Plumbing Issues. It can be hard to notice major plumbing issues until an inspector comes in. Redoing a house’s plumbing can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and minor leaks or rusted pipes could be a sign of bigger plumbing issues. A leaking faucet alone could significantly run up water bills. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that annually, household leaks waste 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide (which is equivalent the water use in over 11 million homes) and thus adds 10% onto water bills for homeowners.

Pest Infestations. Carpenter ants, certain types of beetles, and termites are among the common wood-destroying insects that severely damage a home. Ants are the number one nuisance pest in the country, with carpenter ants ranking as one of the most problematic. Termites damage approximately 600,000 homes in the U.S. each year, leading residents to spend an estimated $5 billion annually to control termites and repair termite damage. Rodents, on the other hand, invade 21 million U.S. homes each winter, and over ⅓ of Americans have seen a rodent in their house within the past year. If you see a rodent in your house, you could have a big problem on your hands. Mice are capable of producing up to 12 babies every three weeks. They carry salmonella and disease-causing parasites like fleas, ticks, and lice and can gnaw on wood and wires, increasing the risk of electrical fires.

HVAC system. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control the heating, cooling, and airflow in your home. They require regular maintenance in order to perform efficiently, in turn assuring the air quality in your home is healthy. An HVAC system typically lasts 15-25 years. However, certain components of the system can break or malfunction, which can compromise the air efficiency and quality, especially in old HVAC systems. A new unit can cost up to $6,000 plus labor costs, depending on the quality of the system. Home inspectors will check to make sure all basic functioning of the HVAC system is in working order.

It’s important to note that inspectors can only report what they can see, not what’s inside walls, behind the seller’s furniture or moving boxes, or buried underground. If the home has an easily accessible crawl space, the inspector usually will enter and check out the foundation. If the home is full of the seller’s belongings, the inspector won’t be able to inspect as much as if the home is vacant.

If the inspector finds major problems or a longer list of minor issues than you’d expected, you might want to reconsider your decision to purchase that home. If you have questions, discuss them with the inspector. If you need a second opinion or an expert to answer questions about your HVAC system, give us a call!

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