Frequently Asked Questions
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WHAT IS A “HOME INSPECTION”?
A home property inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. Having a home inspected is like giving it a physical check-up. If problems or symptoms are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation.
WHY DO I NEED A HOME INSPECTION?
The purchase of a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. You should learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before you buy, so that you can minimize unpleasant surprises and difficulties afterwards. Of course, a home property inspection also points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the property inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase.
If you are already a home owner, a home inspection may be used to identify problems in the making and to learn preventive measures which might avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, you may wish to have a property inspection prior to placing your home on the market. This will give you a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer’s inspector, and an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTION INCLUDE?
The standard home inspector’s report will review the condition of the home’s heating system and central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation and basement, and visible structure.
CAN A HOUSE FAIL INSPECTION?
No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what may need repair or replacement.
WHEN DO I CALL IN THE HOME INSPECTOR?
A home inspector is typically contacted right after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed, and is often available within a few days. Before you sign, be sure that there is a property inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
DO I HAVE TO BE PRESENT DURING THE INSPECTION?
It is not necessary for you to be present for the property inspection, but it is recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions directly, as you learn about the condition of the home, how its systems work, and how to maintain it. You will also find the written report easier to understand if you’ve seen the property first-hand through the inspector’s eyes.
WHAT IF THE REPORT REVEALS PROBLEMS?
No house is perfect. If the home building inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are found. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t wish to become involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely important to you.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
The price of the property inspection can vary greatly depending on several factors including age, size, location, condition and price. Make sure that the inspector you choose has proper credentials, including ASHI certification. Make sure you select an inspector that wants you to attend the property inspection, and will provide a report with color photographs and a description of the defects. The report should be sent by email within 24 hours of the property inspection. If you choose your inspector by price you will be making a mistake. The price difference between inspectors is minimal considering the importance of their job.
HOW DO I FIND A HOME INSPECTOR?
Ask your friends and neighbors who have had a good experience with a home inspector but the most important recommendation would be from your realtor. Your realtor has experience in dealing with many professionals in the real estate community. She/he wants only competent home inspectors to inspect the houses they sell because any mistakes will reflect poorly on them.
WHAT IS A PHASE I ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENT (ESA)?
A Phase I ESA includes a walkthrough assessment (interior and exterior) of the subject property, review of state and local regulatory databases, current and past use of the subject and adjacent properties (to the extent such information is available) to identify recognized environmental conditions (e.g., hazardous materials and wastes, petroleum products, storage tanks, PCB equipment, and wells) at the subject or adjacent properties. The assessment results are presented in a written report, including conclusions and recommendations.
WHAT IS A RECOGNIZED ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITION?
The term recognized environmental condition means “the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release, or a material threat of a release of any hazardous substances or petroleum products into structures on the property or into the ground, groundwater, or surface water of the property,” as defined in ASTM Standard Practice E 1527-05, Section 1.1.1.
WHY DO I NEED A PHASE I ESA?
Conducting a Phase I ESA is the prudent thing to do. It will provide you with first-hand information regarding actual and/or potential recognized environmental conditions at a property you are considering for purchase. Additionally, it may be required by lenders. You should always contact your lending institution for applicability.