Have you ever watched a TV show where people have purchased a house and they immediately had to call in a contractor to make repairs before they moved in. Did you also wonder why the person would purchase a house like that in the first place? As an Attorney for over 26 years and a residential home redeveloper for the past 4 years I would never allow a client to purchase a house without a property inspection being done prior to closing, nor do I purchase houses before my contractor has inspected them when I am buying them to renovate.
Prior to purchasing any residential property, you should have the property inspected by a licensed home inspector. There are many things a home inspector can check for. Prior to retaining the services of a home inspector you should talk with the inspector and review the scope of the inspection they are going to be doing on the house. Some of the more common inspections done in New York State include, but are not limited to, structural, electrical, water quality, or water well flow if on a private well, mold inspection, radon inspection, and a septic inspection if not on public sewer.
The structural inspection is just that. The inspector will check out the home’s structure to make sure it is up to code. They will check the roof for leaks, make sure there are no loose boards or other unsafe hazards in the home. They will check to make sure no water is leaking into the basement or other areas of the house, and make sure the framing in the attic in correct in addition to a multitude of other areas around and inside your home. They will check the heating and air conditioning systems to make sure they work. They will check the electric panel to make sure it is up to code and that all the breakers in the panel are working, and that the house is wired properly with the proper GFI outlets in the correct location. In New York State your inspector will also advise you if they have found any evidence of mold in the house. If mold is found in an area that is accessible to people, and it covers more than 10 percent of the area then the mold will have to be dealt with accordingly.
Your home inspector can also check for any pests. Whether there is termite damage, beetle bugs, or mice in the home your inspector can find them and advise you accordingly.
If the house is on public water and sewer have the connection lines checked for any leaks or cracks. If the house in on a private well and septic you should have these items checked. With well water, the water flow should be checked to make sure your well supplies an ample number of gallons per minute. Sometimes banks will have a requirement for the well to pump so many gallons a minute as a condition for mortgage approval. You may also want to get the water quality tested. This is something your inspector can do by taking a sample and sending it to a lab to be analyzed. The lab will check for any microorganisms that may appear in the water and make unusable. This may be an additional cost to the structural inspection so don’t be surprised.
Another test your home inspector should do is a radon test. Radon is an odorless, colorless, gas that has been proven to cause cancer. This test is more common in the northeast due to topography. In order to perform this test your inspector will place a canister in the lowest livable space of the home and leave it there for two or three days so that an air sample can be taken. No one should enter the area when the test is being done. Once the inspector has retrieved the canister they will get the readings and provide you with the results. If the measurement comes back above 4.0 picocuries then a radon remediation system should be installed. Any reading below 4.0 picocuries is acceptable and nothing has to be done.
Once the inspection is done and you have received your inspection report you will know if there are any major problems with the house. If problems are found you can use the report to re-negotiate the purchase price.
Good luck with the house hunt