Home Inspection Guide
Buying a New Home? A lot of people have questions about Home Inspections in Middle Tennessee, and we will answer many of them in this home inspection guide. Although we focus on Middle Tennessee communities, the answers will apply to most home inspections anywhere in the country. Home Inspections are not mandatory! Be sure to carefully read this Home Inspection Guide. It will help you make an informed and satisfactory purchase!
You can choose not to do one! But, it is certainly in your best interest to find a good inspector and find out all you can about the home you want to purchase. It will save a lot of frustration down the road – not to mention the money that repairs can cost.
What do Home Inspections cover? How much do they cost? Can they kill the deal?
Don’t buy a home without a Home Inspection. It’s just not worth it!!
Who makes repairs after a home inspection? So many questions! First of all, let’s start with what a Home Inspection isn’t! It isn’t an appraisal, so don’t confuse them. An appraisal is only a determination of value – ordered by the lender to substantiate the loan value of the property. Sometimes an FHA or VA appraiser will order certain repairs to be made that are within their guidelines. But you should still have a home inspection performed for your own benefit. A home inspection is important when buying a single-family home, a condo, or a house on a few acres.
Consider More Types of Home Inspections
Although the words ‘home inspection’ is thought of as a 3-4 hour inspection of the house by a professional home inspector…it is in reality so much more! There are many types of inspections that the basic home inspection just does not cover.
Many people enjoy our recent blog post “Home-Buyer’s Guide“. It’s a guide with tons of information about looking for red flags while home shopping, which can sometimes help you avoid spending the money on a home inspection. If you see a lot of problems when viewing the property – you might want to find another house? It’s easy to tell if a home has been well maintained just by looking around. If you see that visible things need attention – then you can bet that things behind the walls haven’t been taken care of either! A thorough home inspection is especially important when buying HUD Homes.
What is a Home Inspection?
A typical home inspection is a thorough inspection of the property for the purpose of finding any defects or problem areas. This is normally a visual inspection. If the inspector notices a problem area outside the scope of his expertise, he will usually advise the buyer to consider additional inspections specific to one area of the house. He will also tell you what is good about the property – and usually provide you with photos and a full written report on his findings. He should discuss ongoing maintenance for certain items. You can expect basic home inspections in Middle Tennessee to cover these items:
- Roof for any obvious wear or damage Roof Damage caused by Hail
- Attic – for any water leaks and/or proper framing and insulation
- Downspouts for draining water away from the structure – a distance of 10′ is recommended
- Obvious foundation problems
- Water damage or rot around exterior doors/windows
- Proper functioning of Appliances that Remain with the Property
- Obvious plumbing problems A leaking faucet is money down the drain!
- Windows – for proper functioning and/or any broken seals
- Obvious electrical issues in service panel box and/or receptacles, especially GFCI
- Crawl space- for moisture barrier over the soil, any visible water issues and any HVAC supply line issues
- HVAC – for air temperature coming out of vents – and any obvious problems
- Slope of ground away from the house for proper drainage
- Vegetation touching the structure Any vegetation touching the house is a pathway for insects and other pests to enter your home!
- Garage door for proper functioning – including safety features
- The inspector is there to tell you what he observes – not to tell you how to fix problems. That’s up to you and the seller to figure out. And the inspector is not a specialist in the various systems of the house – so he will only recommend further testing if he sees a problem.
Cost of Home Inspection
Home Inspection Cost?
Home Inspections in Middle Tennessee will cost $350 – $500 for an average-size home. There are add-on inspections such as radon that will cost $100+ if it is done as part of the basic home inspection. The radon test usually takes several days to complete, and the home inspector will either take the instrument over a few days ahead of the inspection – or he could leave it for several days after the inspection before he picks it up for the test results.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
For an average size home – usually 3-4 hours for the basic inspection. If the home is a condo or townhome, it might take only an hour or two.
Who Pays for a Home Inspection?
The buyer! This inspection is not mandatory – but it is to the benefit of the buyer to know as much about the property as possible before closing. Sometimes, the seller (at their expense) will have a home inspection performed before they put the house on the market in order to take care of problems ahead of time. Then, the buyer can accept this inspection…or order another one for himself. If you choose to do so, you can even do the home inspection yourself. Or maybe you have a friend or relative who is familiar with home building? But remember, whomever you choose, only you have the responsibility of checking the house before closing. For more information, please visit the home inspector website.
Common Repairs Needed After a Home Inspection
There are numerous requests for repairs – but remember that any requested repairs should be either structural or safety in nature. Cosmetic items are not usually considered in the request. In my experience, common repairs include:
- Vegetation touching the house and must be cut back to prevent easy access for insects and other pests.
- Exterior hose bibb needs to be properly secured to the wall. For some reason, these are usually loose.
- GFCI outlets installed to prevent electrical shock around areas with water faucets.
- Loose HVAC supply lines in the crawl space
- Moisture barrier completely covering the soil in crawl space
Downspouts allowing water to seep into the crawl space. Personally, I like to see downspouts put in UNDER the driveway or sidewalk allowing water to be diverted well away from the house. It also keeps water from running on the driveway or sidewalk, which can turn to ice in the winter and cause unnecessary injuries.
- This downspout is too close to the structure and will allow water to seep into foundation wall!
- Missing or damaged roof shingles
- Mold in crawl space – or anywhere else!
- Dripping faucets – or evidence of a leak under a sink
- Exterior Wood needs scraped/painted – usually garage and exterior door and window frames.
- Broken window seals – This problem is identified by a ‘cloudy’ appearance, which is simply caused by moisture that has seeped between the glass panes.
Can a Home Inspection be Done Without Electricity?
Yes, but not easily. You certainly couldn’t check anything electrical! And it’s hard to see in the dark. Sometimes people use generators to supply electricity to the house for the inspection. It’s the same with the water. Plumbing couldn’t be checked without the water being on. If you are buying a HUD home or a foreclosure – it’s up to you to have the utilities turned on, then back off after the inspection. This is at your expense.
More About Home Inspections
What is a Home Inspection Contingency?
It’s simply a clause in the purchase and sale agreement that gives you an ‘out’ if the home inspection reveals more problems than you are prepared to deal with. There will be a certain time period for you to perform any inspections that you wish. If you decide to cancel the agreement, it needs to be done within that time frame. Every contract is different and the time involved depends on how it is written – and agreed to by both buyer and seller. Home inspections in the Middle Tennessee area are usually done within 7-10 days after the contract binding date.
Home Inspections for New Construction in Middle Tennessee?
Yes! I always recommend a home inspection for new construction. True Story! I had clients purchasing a brand new home and they took my advice and ordered an inspection. All turned out well – EXCEPT when the inspector went into the crawl space. It seems that the framers did a good job – but when the plumbers were installing a whirlpool tub…there was a floor joist in their way! The easy fix was to just cut it out! Yep – they cut a main floor joist to install the tub. The builder wasn’t even aware of it. If the home inspector hadn’t caught the problem, the floor would have been weakened. And when the people decided to sell – they would have certainly been responsible for the structural repair. So…yes, always have a home inspection on a new or existing home. You can hire a home inspector to take a look at the house during the different phases of construction. It’s worth the time and effort! Builders are people, too…and not perfect! They make mistakes just like the rest of us!
What Other Types of Inspections Should I Get?
There are many inspections you can order. Here are a few that you might consider if they are applicable in your situation:
- Termite – this one should be mandatory. These little critters are always looking for a free lunch!
They check for wood-destroying pests including carpenter bee damage. You pay for the inspection, and in this area the cost usually ranges from $25-$50. If there is any damage, the seller is expected to be responsible for the repairs and/or treatment. It’s good to have a maintenance contract with the pest control people!
- Structural Engineer – This person will look for any structural problems beyond the scope of the home inspector.
- Radon – Mentioned above. Radon is a odorless, invisible gas that comes out of the earth…and is common in Southern Missouri. You can’t stop it – but it can be controlled – usually by better ventilation. It’s a good idea to have it tested during the home inspection phase – and also to check it once a year as routine maintenance.
- Environmental Issues including Mold & Mildew – This is usually ordered if the home inspector finds visible evidence of a problem. This meter checks the degree of moisture in walls.
The seller would be responsible for remediation – and it can be expensive. If the seller refuses, then it might be a good idea to reconsider the purchase.
- HVAC – Only the basics are covered in a home inspection. I would recommend a service call by a licensed HVAC contractor to check the system(s) thoroughly.
- Well Water – If the property is serviced by a well, the lender will require a test. This test is ordered at the county environmental department. The seller usually pays for this test.
- Septic Tank – Most homes outside the city limits will have a septic tank system. Find out when it was last pumped. You can also check with the county environmental department to see if there have been any problems with the system in the past. Also, try to find the location of the tank and any lines in case you decide to plant any trees or dig for any reason.
- Swimming pool or spa. It pays to have any pool and equipment inspected! This would not be covered by the basic home inspection and should be done by a licensed pool contractor.
- Asbestos – This is important in an older home because it was used in the past for insulation, and when disturbed can cause cancer.
- Lead Paint – Homes built before 1978 must have a lead-based paint disclosure. I’ve never seen a homeowner that knows whether there is lead-based paint anywhere in the house. But, notice any old paint and have it checked out.
Even More Inspections:
- Synthetic stucco (Dryvit) – The problem is that water can get behind the Dryvit and cause a lot of wood rot. This can really be an issue and should be tested.
- Square Footage – If this is important to you – then you might want to have it professionally measured. The listed square footage is usually taken off the tax records or measured by an agent that is not experienced enough to do it properly. Sometimes even the seller will try to decide the square footage on the house.
- Trees – It’s a good idea to have a tree service company check any trees that could possibly fall on the house. Check the health of any trees that could possibly fall onto your house!
Sometimes trees can look healthy – but be damaged inside.
- Chimneys – This is not covered in a home inspection unless there’s a problem with the cap on top. But it’s a good idea to have a chimney professional check it out.
- Flood Zone – Always check to see if the property is in a flood zone. We provide a flood map BEFORE you ever get this far in the transaction. But just in case we’re not your Realtors – check it out.
- Grading – Many times people have to add soil around the foundation and slope it so water will run AWAY from the house instead of either standing or allowing it to run into the foundation wall.
I know these are a lot of inspection issues, and hopefully you won’t run into many of them. But, it pays to be aware! A couple of safeguards that you have are (1) the property condition disclosure that is required in Missouri, which is given by the sellers to disclose any known problems. This is a legal document and most sellers tell the truth on them. And (2) a one-year warranty that will address many issues that come up during the covered time frame. Most companies will let you continue to keep the coverage if you choose to do so. I’ve seen them pay for a new HVAC unit shortly after a closing – and I’ve also seen them refuse to pay for a small repair. It’s up to the serviceman’s report when he comes out to inspect the problem. Recently, a person didn’t renew the home warranty policy for $500. Then the HVAC went out and she had to pay $5,000 for a new unit, which would have been covered under the warranty. Life happens and most people don’t have a crystal ball – but again, it pays to be aware of things! If any system has some age on it – I would sure keep the coverage in place! We walk you through the home inspection to ensure a smooth closing. Please call today to get started on finding your new home. 615-428-8500