Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases the average person will undertake and buyers want to make sure they understand the condition of the property they are buying. Having a home inspection completed is one way home buyers can feel more confident in their purchase.
Licensed inspectors will generally follow criteria for inspections outlined in the American Society of Home Inspectors Standard of Practice document, or something from a similarly accredited organization. Using a standardized document ensures the client is provided with a comprehensive inspection.
What is not included in the inspection?
Home inspections are visually based and inspectors are only liable to inspect what can be seen and accessed. The inspector will review structural elements and various home systems, but the items listed below are generally not covered during the basic inspection process.
- Cigarette smoke damage: While you may think you would be able to detect a home that had been smoked in, commercial cleaners and deodorizers can mask the scent. The odor of cigarettes can creep out of the walls and floors when humidity levels rise.
- Pet damage: Much like cigarette smoke, pet odors can be camouflaged by scented products. If you have allergies, beware of pet dander lodged in carpets.
- Landscaping upkeep and repairs: Elaborate landscaping requires significant upkeep; make sure you have the time or funds to devote to extensive gardening. Check for pet spots in the grass, lawn preparations and treatments to re-grow damaged grass cost a pretty penny. If the yard has a sprinkler systems make sure it is in working order.
- Roof damage and critters: A home inspector will look at the condition of the shingles and roof flashing, but most home inspectors won’t climb a ladder to check out the roof up close. Don’t be afraid to climb up yourself and look for evidence of animals and termites.
- Creaking and warped floors: No house is going to be perfectly level, but significant warping and creaks are something to watch out for as the foundation could be compromised.
- Well and septic problems: While the inspector will look for any pipe damage or concerns in the home, consider hiring a contractor who specializes in wells and septic to look over the systems.
- Insulation voids: An inspector will look at insulation in the crawl space and unfinished areas, but areas with settled or lacking insulation which are not easily visible will have a big impact on the heating and cooling costs as the seasons change.
- Detached structures: Structures such as a garage or shed or not always included in the inspection. If you have concerns about one or more detached structures make sure to ask if they are included when selecting an inspector.
- Environmental hazards: An inspector will not test for hazards such as mold, radon, asbestos or lead. However, you can hire separate entities to test for them.
- Bright paint: Although not a defect, take into consideration the effort involved to repaint walls in colors you do not like. Red paint can be especially difficult to cover.
While an inspection is a good starting point, feel free to review the property yourself and ask questions about anything you do not understand in the inspection report.