When you purchase a house, whether it's a sleek and modern home built in the last few years or a house that has been around for a few hundred, an inspection is absolutely crucial. But there is much more to a home inspection than simply hiring one contractor and trusting them to inspect all the elements of your home.
All the inspections you'll ever need:
It's important to understand the various inspections your house might require before you declare it sound and move in. Some of them might surprise you.
- General home review. This is the most common and most important home inspection you can have. Even the most basic home has over 500 elements that need to be addressed, and that's what this inspector does. The typical home inspection should take at least two or three hours, and it should address every corner of the structure, including any appliances, visible plumbing and electrical, etc.
- Pests and rodents. Though a home inspector might see signs of rodent or pest infestation, some of them simply don't have the tools or training to spot all potential problems. A pest inspection by a qualified professional can help ensure you don't have any critters or crawlers hanging around.
- Radon. A completely natural gas that emits from the earth, radon is found everywhere. The question is not whether you have radon in your home, but whether you have acceptable levels. You can very easily test your own home for free or for a small fee, but if you are buying or selling, it might be best to get a professional report.
- Septic and sewer issues. Though municipal sewer lines are usually just fine, septic systems are a different story. A thorough inspection of the drain field, tank, all plumbing, and any other elements of your septic system should be reviewed by a licensed contractor.
- Wells and water issues. Just as municipal sewer is usually going to be okay, so is municipal water -- after all, it has to be tested on a regular basis to ensure safe drinking water for everyone. If you have a well, testing for pure water is your responsibility. Basic tests can be done inexpensively, but you might want to opt for a full battery of tests to be absolutely sure of what you're drinking.
- Electricity. Though a good home inspection will include a serious look at the breaker panel or fuse box, keep in mind that home inspectors can only examine what they can see. An electrician can give you a much better overview of the wiring, electrical load, and any potential problems.
- Plumbing. Your home inspector can find any visible leaks or signs of water damage, but if you want a true look inside -- which can include a tour inside your walls using video technology -- call a plumber to inspect the entire system.
- Landscaping and drainage. Most inspections can tell you if there might be a drainage problem, but only a landscaping professional can tell you how bad the problem is and how you can fix it. They can also inspect any sort of irrigation or underground runoff systems you might have.
- Chimneys and fireplaces. If you are going to use your fireplace, a thorough inspection is an absolute must. Even if you aren't using it, a good inspection can tell you whether the chimney needs repair.
- Unique inspections. Depending upon the unique features of your home, you might choose to hire other professionals to inspect them. A few examples include examinations of mold problems, geothermal units, or very old homes that require a specialist to do a thorough inspection.
The most basic home inspection is what most homeowners opt to have, but if you are buying a home that has a well, a septic system, problems with electricity, or other maladies, hire more than one professional to handle the job. Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry.