What inspections should you get when buying a house?

I think most agents would agree that for any home purchase it is a good idea to get both a pest inspection and a home inspection regardless of how perfect the home looks, but should you get other inspections too?  The answer is usually yes, depending on issues those inspectors find or if there are obvious problems or concerns.

There are dozens of inspections available, not every home needs every inspection.  Below gives you a general idea of what might be included by the various inspections:

1)      Pest Inspection:  Identifies wood destroying pest such as termites, dry rot, etc. as well as conditions that are not currently causing damage but could lead to future damage such as wood debris under a house.  Pest inspectors do not identify mold but usually will point out moisture issues.  Pest inspectors will usually give you an estimate to correct issues found.

2)      General Home Inspection: Usually referred to as just a Home Inspection they will check to make sure the appliances, electrical, plumbing are functioning.  They will also point out other obvious defects that they see but almost always refer you to another specialist if they find something wrong.  Some inspectors will also do a report on the condition of the roof.

3)      Roof Inspection:  This also is a good idea on most homes. If the roof was recently replaced with permits that might be the exception.

4)      Electrical Inspection: Home inspectors give this a quick look but if you plan on making any improvements to the home this inspection is a must.  Because so many homeowners have fooled around with electrical (and in the vast majority of cases did not do the work correctly) this inspection is a good idea.

5)      Chimney:  Will determine if there are safety issues with your fireplace.

6)      Lead Paint: If your home was built pre-1978 (with is most Marin County real estate) count on it having lead paint.  Most people don’t get this inspection because the year of construction will usually tell you if the paint is an issue.  Most of the homes that do have lead paint have been repainted with non-lead paint.  The issue with lead paint (other than obvious health issues if you ingest it) is repainting a house with lead paint is  now more expensive because of containment required with removing old paint

7)      Structural / Foundation: If there are cracks in a foundation or if the home is not level you should have an engineer take a look.

8)      Pools/ Spa:  If you are going to keep the pool, get the inspection.

9)      Septic and/or Well:  If you have either these inspection are a must.

10)   Mold:  Any signs of mold or if you are sensitive to mold get this inspection.

11)   Tree/Arborist:  Some people do this for any home with large trees.  If the tree is leaning, looks dead, or is on a hillside it is recommended.

12)   Permits and Public Records:  You MUST research this for any home….no questions on this.

13)   Title Prelim:  Read the report when you receive it. If there are questions on anything…Ask questions.  This is where you will find items like easements.

14)   Lot Survey:  Very few people get this report because of expense and the time required.   What if you find your fence is two feet in the neighbors yard, or vise-versa but everyone is happy.  On the other hand I have seen a small subdivision where ever house was built on the middle of the lot line.  If one of those homes were destroyed the city might not let them rebuild because of setbacks.  To correct this every lot in the subdivision would need a lot-line adjustment.  Most people get a survey when there is a problem with a neighbor or if they want to build an addition to their home.

15)   Soil Stability:  On a hillside or if the home is not level then get this for sure.

This is not the full list, there are other inspection you can get but you can see that if you spent an average of $500 per inspection your cost would quickly add up which is why most people go with the pest and home inspections and if any issues are brought up they usually get additional inspections, ask for a price reduction or back out of the deal.  Choosing which inspections to get is something your agent can help with but the choice is yours.

Warren Carreiro, Broker

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