The purchase of a home is one of the biggest investments people will make in their life-time. But it is also among the greatest source of anxiety. A home inspection helps ensure home buyers of the quality of their investment by making them aware of its condition and alerting them to any concerns. This can serve to relieve stress, increase confidence and even reduce the threat of legal action in the future.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF A HOME INSPECTION ARE:
Education: A good home inspection also gives you invaluable details about your new home in addition to information about the condition of the property. You’ll learn where the main shutoff valves to the utilities are located, how the house operates and more!
HOW DO I FIND A GOOD HOME INSPECTOR?
Not all inspection companies are alike, and selecting the wrong company could cost you thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs. Consider the following when shopping for home inspection companies.
Before making an offer on a home, nearly all real estate experts recommend conducting extensive inspections. Home inspections are designed to protect you from unexpected repairs and costs after move-in. If any problems are found during a pre-sale inspection, the buyer can then negotiate with the seller to have the issues resolved before closing or incorporate the cost of repairs into the offer. By assuring the buyer that they are purchasing the best home for their money, home inspections are an invaluable resource in the home buying process.
In most cases, home inspections analyze a number of factors both inside and outside the home.
SIX MOST CRITICAL INSPECTION CONCERNS FOR THE EXTERIOR OF THE HOME:
SIX FACTORS THAT SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY INSPECTED WITHIN THE INTERIOR OF THE HOME:
Keep in mind, if an inspection uncovers a problem, you should not necessarily be deterred from buying the home. More than anything, the inspection will help you determine the value of a home and prevent you from overpaying or experiencing unwanted repairs. Depending on what is uncovered during the inspection, you may want to conduct an additional inspection of the problematic element or simply work with the seller to resolve the issue as part of your offer.
Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:
1. WILL YOUR INSPECTION MEET RECOGNIZED STANDARDS?
Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group’s standards of practice and code of ethics online at www.ashi.org or www.nahi.org. ASHI’s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.
2. DO YOU BELONG TO A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTOR ASSOCIATION?
There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.
3. HOW EXPERIENCED ARE YOU?
Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner.
4. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR EXPERTISE UP TO DATE?
Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
5. DO YOU FOCUS ON RESIDENTIAL INSPECTION?
Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.
6. WILL YOU OFFER TO DO REPAIRS OR IMPROVEMENTS?
Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest. Contact your local ASHI chapter to learn about the rules in your state.
7. HOW LONG WILL THE INSPECTION TAKE?
On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.
8. WHAT’S THE COST?
Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
9. WHAT TYPE OF INSPECTION REPORT DO YOU PROVIDE?
Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector's reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
10. WILL I BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE INSPECTION?
The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector's refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.
Gas or oil furnace
Forced Air Furnace
Electric Water Heater
Expected Life (years)
Gas Water Heater
Expected Life (years)
11 to 13
Termites are wood destroying insects common in most areas of Oklahoma. They cause millions of dollars of damage annually. Subterranean termites live in the soil and are found throughout the state. The probability that termites will attack wooden structures within 10 to 20 years of being built is greater than 70% in Oklahoma.
Typically, the buyer pays for the initial pest inspection. The seller usually pays for any termite treatment; however, this needs to be stated specifically in the contract.
Most lenders will require a termite inspection before approving a loan. Here are some tips for getting the most out of a termite inspection:
While no septic inspection and test can guarantee 100% that all septic defects have been found, they can reduce the chances of a dangerous or costly surprise on a property after closing.
When buying a home with a septic system, septic tank and leachfield, you should consider the following steps:
STEP 1: ASK ABOUT THE SYSTEM
Ask the seller the following questions. Don't worry if the seller says they don't know the answers. "Not knowing" is also important information.
Where is the septic system? ( If the owner has been at the property for years and does not know where the septic tank is located, they have never pumped it. On the other hand, if they know exactly where it is and if it has an easily-opened access cover, it might mean it is being pumped unusually often .)
STEP 2: VISUAL INSPECTION
Once the locations of the septic tank and leaching fields are known, walk over the entire area and observe whether there is any evidence of a sewage overflow condition. Greener grass in the leaching area may not necessarily indicate a system problem. If, however the area is completely saturated and odorous you should be very concerned. It most likely indicates a system failure.
Try to get a sense of how natural conditions are affecting the capacity of the property to drain water.
STEP 3: WHEN TO HAVE THE TANK PUMPED
Pumping a septic tank prior to purchasing a home may or may not be necessary, depending on the age and service history of the system and the results of the visual inspection . But pumping the tank can be helpful in any case. Important additional information, available when the tank is pumped, can tell you if it was past-due for pumping (risking damaging the drain fields) and if it is damaged. You'll also know exactly where the tank is, if it's concrete, steel, fiberglass or homemade, if it has been damaged, if the baffles are broken, if the tank has been flooded (indicating a blocked drain field), and if the tank has a safe cover.
Even if there are no signs of trouble from the visual inspection - if nothing is known about the system history, or if it is known that the system has not been opened and pumped in 3 years or longer, this step is strongly advised. If the septic tank has been pumped quite recently, you should call the pumping contractor to ask if, at the time of pumping, the contractor observed any indications of system problems or upcoming system repairs.
The above steps are recommended for a traditional tank and leachfield system.
AEROBIC SEPTIC SYSTEM
If you are purchasing a home with an aerobic septic system ask the seller the following questions:
Being informed about the type and condition of the septic system in the house you are purchasing will help you be aware and perhaps minimize surprises after you move in.
No one wants to buy a house with a mold problem. Unfortunately, mold problems are not always easy to detect. If you are looking to buy a home, learn how to detect mold in homes, get the seller to disclose mold issues, and remove mold if you decide to buy a home damaged by it.
Mold is a fungus that comes in various colors (black, white, green, or gray) and shapes. While some molds are visible and even odorous, mold can also grow between walls, under floors and ceilings, or in less accessible spots, such as basements and attics. Mold does best in water-soaked materials (paneling, wallboard, carpet, paint, ceiling tiles, and the like) but can survive in almost any damp location. Mold can grow in houses situated in the desert, and it can grow in homes in hot and humid climes.
Here are some common places in a home where mold is likely to take hold:
Besides presenting an ugly appearance and, sometimes, an unpleasant odor, mold can cause health problems. In the worst cases, a few types of molds produce mycotoxins, which can cause rashes, seizures, unusual bleeding, respiratory problems, and severe fatigue in some people. Fortunately, most molds are of the non-toxic variety.
You won’t always know if there is mold in a house you’re considering buying, but you can take a few easy steps to try and find out.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR MOLD
When you’re thinking about buying a home, look for the elements above to figure out if there are any obvious signs of mold or the potential for mold. Keep your eyes peeled for standing water in the basement, water marks on walls (particularly recent-looking stains), or musty smells (particularly in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, cabinets with plumbing, or other areas with plumbing).
ASK YOUR HOME INSPECTOR
If you have the home professionally inspected before you buy it, your home inspector may see obvious signs of mold or water damage. While it’s not the inspector’s job to look for mold, most home inspectors will mention obvious signs of water damage and the possible presence of mold. And because the inspector will poke around in spaces you might not, he or she may see things you wouldn’t.
Don’t hesitate to ask whether the inspector saw signs of mold or potential mold dangers, and ask that these results be included in the inspection report. Some inspectors may be wary of this, because they want to avoid liability for any mold-related problems. But all should be comfortable talking to you about whether they saw anything suspicious.
ASK THE SELLER TO DISCLOSE ANY MOLD OR WATER-RELATED PROBLEMS
In addition, ask questions about things that could lead to mold growth, such as “Have any pipes ever burst?” or “Have any of the windows ever leaked?”
Sellers are required to disclose on the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Form and knowledge or treatment for mold. Keep in mind that the seller’s duty to disclose only relates to things the seller knows about or reasonably should know about -- he or she doesn’t have a duty to go poking around in the walls to see if there’s mold, for example. That’s another reason it’s a good idea to ask about potential mold-causing problems. The seller may know of these conditions without being able to confirm there’s actual mold growth.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testing for mold isn’t usually necessary when it’s visible on surfaces. Most people will end up relying on the detection methods discussed above.
However, if you suspect mold is present in the home, but none is visible, you might elect to hire a professional mold testing company. These companies test the air in and around the home. They can also dig into walls and take samples, which they later test in a laboratory. Testing the air usually costs several hundred dollars. If the company takes wall samples, the cost will be even higher.
You can use the results from mold testing in two ways when negotiating a home purchase:
Many houses and built before 1978 have paint that contains high levels of lead (called lead based paint). Lead from paint, chips and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.
Sellers must disclose any known lead-based paint and hazards in homes built prior to 1978 in a Lead Based Paint Disclosure Form.
They are also required to give buyers any reports that are available from tests that have been performed. Sellers must also give buyers a pamphlet about how to protect families from lead in homes. (Your REALTOR® should give you a copy of this pamphlet.)
You also have the right to a 10-day period to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at your own expense.
You are encouraged to check for lead-based paint before renting, buying or renovating pre-1978 homes.