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Property and Home Inspection

It is usually customary for a new homeowner to get a property and home inspection.  A property and home inspection will identify any problems, both current and future, which can then be appropriately mitigated, so to avoid any costly future repairs.  For those selling their home, an inspection before listing on the real estate market is a good idea since you will gain a better understanding of your property’s conditions.  This would also grant you the seller the opportunity to make the necessary repairs in order to make the property more appealing to potential buyers. 

Essentially, property and home inspections summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the near future.  Both homebuyers and home sellers depend on accurate and effective inspections to maximize their knowledge of their property in order to make intelligent decisions before committing to a sale or purchase.  After an inspection, both parties have a much clearer understanding of the value and needs of the property.

Property and home inspections are an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from roof to foundation, heating to electrical systems, insulation to plumbing, windows to doors.  There are plenty of reasons as to why somebody would want a home inspection carried out, although an inspection is generally used to investigate whether any faults in the property exists that the seller or buyer should know about before they finalize the transaction.

Some of the most common items that are found to need repair include:

Pest and termite inspection – to ascertain whether any damaging bugs are present on the property.  This is particularly important since the majority of houses are primarily constructed from wood.  Pest or termite inspectors also report irregularities with the structure of a property, including wood rot and displacement of the foundations of the property under inspection.

Plumbing Inspection – to determine the state of plumbing by checking items such as water pressure, type and condition of drains and pipes, and to see if there are any signs of rust and leaks.  Although a home inspector can carry out a basic plumbing inspection, a certified plumbing specialist may be called in if any major problems are identified.  They will then be able to find the cause and recommend appropriate actions to fix the problem. 

Water Test inspection – This may not be necessary since many municipalities conduct vigorous tests on water quality to ensure the highest safety standards.  These tests are usually more rigorous and complex than what any home inspector can carry out.  If the property has a private source of water (i.e. a well), then private water testing should be considered.  Water testing labs will look for bacteria content and mineral content of the water among many other parameters.  Another a good idea is to test is to determine the pumping capacity of any well pumps that may be present. 

Lead and Radon Testing – This is usually done if the property is very old.  A lead testing professional can perform a lead test in various locations of the property.  Certain areas of the country are considered to have high levels of radon.  You can hire either a specialist to perform radon inspections, but radon kits are available.  These kits use a charcoal-based detector.  

Septic Testing - usually involves emptying a septic tank and testing for the overall proper functioning of the system.  Inspectors will often utilize a dye test where they drop dye tablets into the system and flush water through it to see if the dye surfaces.  If the dye surfaces it indicates a problem.

Asbestos Inspection – is an important test particularly if your property is old and there is exposed insulating material.  Asbestos inspections require a certified specialist who will take some samples to determine whether there are asbestos crystals circulating in the house.  Asbestos is considered relatively safe if it is concealed and undisturbed. 

Electrical test – an electrical test is usually extensive and consists of checking on amperage, looking for exposed wires, and determining the type or wiring and whether it is adequate.  If an inspector finds during the tests that there is a problem in the electrical system then you should have an inspection carried out by an electrician, as the home inspector may not be qualified to carry out extensive checks on the property. 

Miscellaneous Inspections – other aspects of a home inspection may include looking at wood panels Roofs and roof venting systems, tub and shower walls and bathroom floors, furnaces, and gutters and draining systems. 

While you may think that you’ll be able to perform property and home inspections on your own, this is not recommended.  Rather, most people will hire a certified home inspector.  A home inspector is a professionally qualified person who is usually licensed to carryout an inspection of a property, on behalf of a buyer or seller.  The vast majority of qualified housing inspectors are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and will adhere to the ASHI’ strict guidelines. 

The ASHI's "Standards of Practice" serve as the home inspector's performance guideline, and are universally recognized and accepted by professional and government authorities. ASHI's professional Code of Ethics prohibits members from engaging in conflict of interest activities, which may compromise their objectivity.  This allows ASHI accredited home inspectors to be impartial and fair.  This is the assurance to the consumer that the inspector will not, for example, use the inspection to solicit or refer repair work.