The Advantages of Home Inspection From the Buyer's Point of View

For most people, the purchase of a home is the most important financial commitment they will make in their lives. It makes perfect sense that home buyers secure their financial commitment by spending money for a home inspection. When purchasing a new property, home inspection is essential. During the inspection, an inspector will examine the home thoroughly in order to evaluate its physical condition. One important aspect to remember about home inspections and buying a home is that it is essential to make your offer on a property subject to the results of the home inspection. This means that if the inspection exposes some major problems with the property, you can withdraw your offer with no penalty.

The Inspection Procedure: What to Expect

While conducting a home inspection, the inspector will take a complete and exhaustive look at the property to evaluate its physical condition-but be aware that this is very different from an appraisal. The home inspector will be able to explain all about what kind of condition the property is in, but will not give you with an estimate of its value.

During the inspection process, the inspector will examine everything in the home and evaluate the condition of its structure, construction, plumbing, electrical systems and other aspects of the home, to detect whether any structures or systems require repair or even replacement. The inspector will also evaluate the longevity of the home, including structural features and electrical, plumbing and other systems, and determine how much functional life each feature has remaining. A home inspection will typically take at least two hours, but of course this depends on the size of the property. On average, you can expect an inspection to take about an hour for each thousand square feet of property. Once the inspection is finished, you should get a written report of the inspector's findings within seven days.

Critical Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Before you engage a home inspector, it is wise to ask key questions to make sure you are hiring an inspector you can have confidence in, to carry out a thorough inspection of your prospective property.

  • What does the inspection include?
  • How many inspections have you done, and how long have you been an inspector?
  • Are you a veteran residential inspector?
  • Do you belong to any state or national associations?
  • How long will the inspection take to complete?
  • What are your fees?
  • How soon will the inspection report be presented after the inspection is finished?
  • Will I be allowed to attend the inspection?

These are all important questions to aid in ensuring that your inspector has the experience needed to thoroughly investigate the property which may become your home. Be sure to ask if you may attend the inspection--a refusal from the home inspector is definitely a warning sign, and attending the inspection is a great opportunity to learn about your likely new home, from an expert.

Pre Listing Home Inspection - 7 Shocking Examples Show Why Home Sellers Need One

Over the last 10 years home sellers had it made. No need for inspections. If a buyer's inspector found a problem, another buyer would come along. But that has changed. It is VERY difficult to get buyers into escrow now, and very easy to lose them if they find problems during their inspection. Here are true stories about issues that caused disasters ranging from large monetary losses for sellers to outright escrow cancellations. It is time for sellers to realize the value of the "Certified Pre Owned Home" services now available. A $300-$500 home inspection coupled with a home warranty can save the seller $1000s of dollars, make the buyer happier and help sell the home faster.

1. Listing says "Air Conditioned" but the home is not.

During the inspection, the buyer asked the inspector about the air conditioning. The inspector found that there is no air conditioning installed. The listing agent, when asked why the listing stated there is air conditioning, replied that the seller said there was. The air conditioning was important to the buyer, who works from home. The buyer attempted to negotiate a fair settlement from the seller to add air but the negotiation broke down and the sale was lost.

2. Home has serious construction defect.

Many homes are now built by builders as two on a lot or more. The home inspector saw that a balcony over the entry was tilted. When measured, it showed a slope to the east of over 2 inches in 4 feet. But there was no sign of distress in the stucco around the balcony. Inspection of the identical rear home showed that the same balcony was absolutely straight. The conclusion was that the builder had allowed the balcony to be finished even though it was at a tilt. The buyer dropped out stating "I was concerned that there might be other construction defects that were not as obvious."

3. Bathroom sink has small water leak in tile counter top causing serious water damage.

Some defects are nearly undetectable. In this case, the dark tile on the counter and the rather stuffed cabinet concealed significant water damage. There was enough water to have caused the cabinet's pressed wood base to expand, the shelf paper to discolor and some mold to start to grow on the paper. But there was no leak in the plumbing. Upon further inspection, it was found by the inspector that when water was splashed on the tile behind the faucet, it ran through small cracks in the tile grout and dripped to the back of the cabinet base. There was reason to expect that there was more moisture and mold under the cabinet base that could not be inspected. This finding, coupled with other troubling issues, caused the buyer to cancel.

4. Home has concealed earthquake damage.

A condo looked excellent from the street. The interior was in beautiful condition. Inspection of the plumbing under the sink, however, revealed a disturbing fact. The galvanized pipe drain that ran up from the bottom of the subterranean garage 3 stories below appeared to have raised up and smashed the drywall above it. Suspecting that this was impossible, the inspector recalled that this building had suffered damage from a powerful nearby earthquake. A closer look revealed that the floor had dropped 1-2 inches during that quake and not recovered and the ceiling had dropped along with the interior walls. Only the perimeter load bearing walls remained as built. The result was that the torn drywall was wall that had FALLEN onto the solid pipe. The damage was so extensive that the buyer dropped out.

5. Another listing without air conditioning.

This was a condo conversion and a very nice property. But again the listing said A/C but there was none. The buyer was, in this case, not as eager for the deal and used this as an excuse to drop out.

6. Hillside 1930's home seller loses $200,000.

This home is on a hill and there were multiple retaining walls and tiered foundations that needed repair. There is no doubt that had the seller done a pre inspection, problems with the foundation could have been addressed for far lower cost by taking more time. But work was rushed because the home was in escrow and cost far more than necessary.

7. Lots of minor issues turn off first time buyer.

The buyer, a young lady looking for her first home, was put off by issues that were not individually that expensive, but they added up to a long list of problems she just could not cope with. Had the seller done a pre inspection and just done a little work this escrow would have closed.

Note: This article is copyrighted by the author but sellers, buyers, agents and other home inspectors are encouraged to copy and use this article as long as the author's name and web site are kept with it.

Even New Homes Will Need Home Inspections

Jerome Village is looking to become the premier new community in Ohio. Located near Plain City, Ohio Jerome Village will have a blend of residential, commercial, retail, and recreational spaces. This will be an inclusive community, with housing, schools, a community center, shops, swimming pool, and a retirement village. These are planned to be within reasonable walking distance to each other. With new homes comes the need for home inspections.

As with new communities there will be lots of activity and especially in the area of construction. Along with new homes comes home inspections. Many people may not realize that home inspectors are also hired to inspect new homes. The inspections are not done for only when the homes are fully completed. New homes are also inspected at various steps of the construction process. These are called phase inspections.

Once a home is finished and drywall installed nearly all of the structural components such as wall studs, headers and wall insulation is no longer visible. One phase inspection that is important to do occurs immediately before the drywall is hung. This way the new home owner can know that the insulation is installed and installed correctly. Incorrectly installed insulation can result in serious moisture issues.

I was informed that the builder of these homes is a quality builder. Even with that taken into account new construction still need to have inspections performed. No matter who the general contractor is the subcontractors are the ones who do the work and they can make errors or have bad days. This can be more likely when homes are built rapidly in one area.

After a home is completed it is still important to have the home inspected by an independent home inspector to help ensure that the home being purchased is of the quality and condition expected in a new home. As I have done inspections of new homes I have found a section of support beam removed, ridge vents damaged, end caps missing and insulation not as thick as was desired.

One area that tends to lack the quality expected in a new home is the roofs. Perhaps it is because builders and subcontractors do not believe that someone will actually climb on and check the work done up there. Damaged shingles and ridge vents are the most common finds. Torn rubber boot flashings and non recommended spacing between the roof and siding are other finds.

When looking for a Jerome Village home inspector, be certain to locate an inspector that has been in business for several years and is fully insured with errors and omissions insurance, referred to as E&O insurance. Having this displays a level of professionalism. There are a lot of part time inspectors so be careful who you hire, look for a full time home inspector.

What Makes a Good Home Inspection Report...Good?

Ask a dozen Home Inspectors, or make it a bakers dozen if you will, what it is that makes a Home Inspection report a GOOD Home Inspection report, and you are just liable to get 12 or, make it 13, different answers. Well, maybe there wouldn't be that much disparity in response, but you get the general idea...there almost certainly wouldn't be any unanimous consensus. Because individual Home Inspection reports, just as with individual Home Inspectors, simply aren't created equally...one report absolutely is not (allow me to be repetitive here for emphasis)...is not just like the next...neither in content or in quality.

There are many differing opinions as to what constitutes a good Home Inspection report and this is evidenced by the large number of report formats and the myriad of various software programs that are used to create reports. Having been in the Home Inspection industry for more than 15 years, I was creating written (gulp...yes, hand-written) reports using carbon copy report forms, in triplicate (three copies...press hard, please) back when there weren't any computers involved in the process. In fact, I had to be drug, not quite actually by my hair, and not quite literally...but almost...kicking and screaming, into what I'll refer to as the modern computer age. In retrospect, it was a definitive change for the better (in most ways, anyway...I have yet to have my wrist "crash"...but I digress). As the owner of a Raleigh Home Inspection firm, I have my own professional opinion as to what goes into the production of a good Home Inspection, and as to what a good Home Inspection report should be.

There is differing opinion amongst professional Home Inspectors as to whether a checklist style of report should be used...or whether a narrative style report should be used. In the former, issues or problems (I have never have liked referring to issues as problems, even though an issue may very well be, and likely is, a problem for someone...) are conveyed to the reader using boxes that are checked off. In the latter, issues are presented using narrative, wherein each problem is identified by writing out those issues. In reality, most reports are a combination of the two. The combination style of report is the one that I prefer and recommend to other Home Inspectors; descriptive commentary e.g. materials or types of components, can be conveyed using a check box with the real issues conveyed using narrative.

So, what are the...ingredients...necessary to create and provide a good Home Inspection report?

To preface any discussion regarding this subject topic, and from a clients perspective (who is likely relying on the contents of the report to make a well-informed real estate purchasing decision), it is important that the Inspector be experienced, knowledgeable about most all related issues that might be encountered, and be entirely professional toward both the Home Inspection process as a whole and toward the client/buyer specifically. This must be, in my opinion, accepted as a given and be considered a baseline requirement. The overall philosophy of the Inspector should be to provide their client with not only a good inspection experience, but an excellent inspection experience. Of course, it should be herein acknowledged that if the home has a really large number of serious issues, then the experience may not seem like such a good one to the client at the time...but that's likely (or should be) the fault of the condition of the home itself rather than the fault of the Inspector. In the event of a less than stellar report resulting from an Inspection of a particular home, the client is able to revel in the fact that their professional Home Inspector, and their most excellent and professionally produced Home Inspection report precluded their buying the proverbial Money Pit and their having any number of unexpected or unanticipated expenses associated with their home purchase.

Obviously, any report absolutely must provide the client value...with, at the very least, a good representation of the condition of the property. If a report doesn't do that, then the report is likely not worth anything...it would be worthless even if it were free.

Among other things, a Good Home Inspection Report should:

  • Be well organized and well presented; the report should layout and presentation should be logical...it should be organized so as to provide a sort of road map, if you will, around and through the home
  • Be well written...and be readily understandable by anyone irregardless of whether or not they have ever been to the physical property and irrespective of their technical background. The report should, to every extent possible, be devoid of technical nomenclature that requires yet more explanation to be understood; it should be concise and clear. A report that has to be interpreted is of little overall value
  • Provide enough detail, description and direction to provide not only the client, but anyone involved in the transaction e.g. real estate agents, attorneys, mortgage lenders, etc., with a clear representation of the physical condition of the property
  • Contain enough, but not an excessive number, of digital photographs relating directly to significant or serious issues. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words...this is true of a home inspection report. Photographs make it immeasurably easier to identify and understand any particular issue. On the other hand, a report loaded with photographs that lend no additional value to a report and are provided as filler content, or to provide a CYB (Cover Your Buttocks..) function for the Inspector, are best left out of a report
  • Be presented using plain, but grammatically correct language. There is no place in a professional Home Inspection report for misspelled words, fragmented sentences, and general misuse of the English language (or whatever language is appropriate). A report filled with these types of deficiencies is, and again in my opinion, directly indicative of the professionalism of the Inspector
  • Be presented in a straight-forward manner...if there are reportable issues present, then they should be presented in such a way as to leave no doubt that they are, indeed, issues. There should be no Soft-Shoeing...no Song and Dance...no Weasel-wording...just straight talk, accurate description, and effective commentary. Further, there should be some commentary provided to explain why an issue is an issue, and how to go about correcting that issue or otherwise obtaining other professional opinion regarding its correction
  • Contain a well-designed Summary Section...a section of the report where all significant, and potentially significant, issues are clearly identified. General information, suggestion regarding routine maintenance, or recommendations regarding the upgrade of the property should not be included in the Summary section of the report. That type of information should most certainly be provided in the report for the benefit of the client...just not in the Summary section of the report

A client in search of a professional Home Inspection should inquire of any potential candidate Inspector as to what type of report they produce...nor should they be at all shy or hesitant about asking that the considered Inspector to provide a sample of their inspection report. That way, a client will have a very good representative idea of what they can expect from the Home Inspector. The nursery rhyme that goes...Patty Cake...Patty Cake, Bakers Man...Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can...may have been good for Mother Goose; but when it comes to a Home Inspection and the resulting report, you may or may not want to get it just as fast as you can... but you certainly, absolutely, and most unequivocally want it to be just as GOOD as you can get it!

If a Home Inspection report incorporates all of the previously identified components, then it is highly predictable that the result will be a Good inspection report...and maybe even an Excellent inspection report. Isn't that what a consumer should be searching for...and be entitled to receive I might add, in exchange for their hard-earned dollars... a most Excellent Home Inspection report?

Home Inspection - Should You Get One Before You Buy?

When buying a house it always seems that it is going to cost a lot more than what you think. Sometimes that is true. Not having the home that you are about to buy inspected could mean that your new home may cost you even more than you were anticipating. We all want to save money and we all understand that we have a mortgage, maintenance costs, and utility costs and that is only a few of your expenses. But the last thing you need is a big, expensive surprise with your new residence. It should not happen but it does.

Everyone understands cutting costs. But cutting out having your house inspected is not a wise move. Spending just a few hundred dollars could save you thousands of dollars. So why not cut your chances of something going wrong? Getting your soon-to-be residence inspected can give you peace of mind. There are other ways of cutting costs and I am sure if you think about it hard enough you would find a way to come up a few hundred dollars to have this seemingly beautiful home that you want to buy inspected.

What do you think it would cost you as the buyer if you had to put on a new roof the first time it rained? Even if it was just a repair on your roof, it would still cost you more than your inspection. The simple truth is that having a home inspection on the house that you are about to purchase is a very smart and wise decision. Find out up front how much this house is really going to cost you before you purchase it. There may be things that you do not want to repair yourself after it is yours and there may be things that need to be repaired that you are not expecting.

There are inspectors that are not qualified to do a good job. But if you ask them a couple basic questions you will find out real fast if they are any good or not. Be sure to hire an ASHI certified inspector, not just someone with a state license. The licensing requirements in Illinois are very easy to obtain whereas ASHI certification requires much more education and competence. Remember when you hire the company they work for you so do not be afraid to ask questions.

The first thing they should be checking out is the exterior, foundation, basement and crawlspace. In addition to the obvious things that could be wrong they should be checking for moisture content in the wood. And they should also be checking for mold, standing water and infiltration. Next they need to check your roof, attic and insulation. They should be looking for signs of past and present water spots or leakage.

Your electrical system and electrical panels should be checked also. It should be evaluated for proper wiring, circuit breakers and neutral bar. The electrical switches and outlet condition should be checked. The last thing you want is a fire in your new home because of faulty wiring. The condition of the plumbing and water heater should also be checked. Some people have a tendency to turn the heat up on their water heater. This can be a safety hazard plus it works the water heater harder so it might not be in tip-top shape. The plumbing should be checked throughout the house to make sure there are no leaks in the house.

Have you noticed I have not said that if your inspector can do these repairs let him do them? You should never be asked if you would like him to repair any of the findings he uncovers.

Hopefully this article has helped you out and has explained a little bit more about what you should expect and why you should not hesitate to have your home purchase inspected before you buy it.

The Verification Home Inspection to Prove Repairs

When a home inspection contingency is part of a real estate purchase agreement, the buyer often requests certain repairs (called out in the inspection report) to be completed by the seller prior to closing. A home re-inspection is a way for him to verify that the repairs have been done properly. He calls back the same home inspector he hired originally, who then examines, either for free or for an additional fee, the specific defects thus identified, and he excludes everything else.

This verification home inspection is often confused with what is known as the "verification of property condition," but the two are actually different. The latter term refers to a final walk-through the buyer takes through the property to make sure that the house is in the same condition as he expects. It is not a tool for further negotiations, nor does it in any affect the binding terms of the contract. In other words, it doesn't remove any obligation the seller has to complete repairs to which he has agreed, but it also doesn't permit the buyer to tack on additional demands. All the walk-through really does is absolve the real estate agent(s) of liability.

It is also important to distinguish between the original home inspection, which is the work of a generalist, and follow-up work or "further evaluation" recommended in the inspection report and performed by specialists. Some clients object to having to shell out additional money for more inspection fees, but the home inspector is not licensed to make repairs or to render an expert judgment in areas that require special qualifications, such as pests, chimneys, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, foundation, soil, septic/sewer, and hazardous materials such as radon, lead-based paint, asbestos, and measuring air quality. Many inspectors do acquire additional, special licensing, but even then they need to be careful to avoid conflicts of interest. Washington State permits inspectors to repair defects they inspected only after a year has passed.

Use the same home inspector hired originally to conduct the verification inspection. Otherwise, you are really paying for another complete home inspection. The first inspector is already familiar with the house and can immediately tend to the specific defects highlighted by the client.

Some home inspectors charge a re-inspection fee (typically about a third of the original fee). Others provide this service free of charge for a limited period of time, typically up to a year after the original inspection. Members of each school of thought justify their position with sound philosophical and ethical reasoning, differing primarily in how strongly one feels it is necessary to stay above all suspicion of taking kickbacks, despite having vowed to adhere to ethical Standards of Practice.

Some inspectors shy away from doing a verification home inspection. There are certain liability dangers that arise when the seller hires a layperson, without financial protection or license, to make repairs. The layperson may, intentionally or unwittingly, make only cosmetic repairs, and the inspector may be unable to tell that the real problem remains unaddressed. In this case, the only recourse the client has is to come after the person conducting the inspection. Because of this, many inspectors will not agree to do a home re-inspection without proof (e.g., invoice) that the contractor was a licensed professional.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Purchasing Home Inspection Software

Purchasing home inspection software is one of the most important decisions a home inspector will make. Whether it is a new inspector who is just getting started or a veteran one who has been inspecting homes for 20 years, inspection software is going to play a major role in their businesses. Here are five questions home inspectors should ask themselves before purchasing home inspection software.

Is the software easy to use?

Before making a decision on software, an inspector should be sure to try out the software and make sure it is simple to use. Most home inspectors will be the first to tell you that they are not computer experts, which is why having home inspection software that is easy to use is a must. They need to make sure they can effectively use the software the way they want to. With a home inspector's busy schedule, being able to learn the software quickly with little training is crucial. The quicker they can get up and running the better.

How flexible is the software?

Having software that is flexible and customizable is important. Every home inspector has a unique inspection style and way of putting together a report, so finding software that can adapt to them is essential. An inspector should make sure that they are able to edit forms, as well as, create their own. They shouldn't have to change the way they do inspections; they should be able to change the software to suit them.

Can they picture themselves using it in the field?

An inspector should visualize themselves using the software in the field to make sure that it is a good fit for them. An inspector will first need to decide if they want to use a handheld device, tablet, or laptop in the field and then decide if the software will work with their choice. Using software in the field should be a benefit to them and their inspection process, not a hindrance. They will also need to make sure that the software does not take them away from their clients during the inspection. The client is the number one priority, and being able to use software effectively while still communicating with them is extremely important.

What is the total cost of the software?

Determining the total cost of the software is also very important. Inspectors need to ask the software company if there are any ongoing fees while they own the software, such as paying per inspection. Paying per home inspection may sound like a cheap alternative, but an inspector should figure out what the total cost would be over time. For example, if an inspector pays $7 per inspection and they do 200 inspections a year, that's $1400 for one year! They should also ask if there is a monthly or annual fee to use the program. If the inspector plans to use the software on multiple computers, they will need to see if it costs extra to install to multiple devices. Home inspection software is a big investment, and an inspector needs to make sure they know exactly how much it is going to cost them.

Can they see themselves having an extended, working relationship with the software company?

Since software is one of the keys to a home inspection business, it is important to determine if an inspector can visualize themselves having a working relationship with the software company for many years. An inspector should call the software company beforehand and have a conversation with them. They should see how long they've been in business and talk to the technical support department to make sure they are responsive and helpful. A home inspector should plan on developing a long-term relationship with their software vendor.

Purchasing home inspection software is a great idea for any home inspection business. With such a big decision, the home inspector definitely wants to make sure they make the right choice. Asking the questions above will help them accomplish that goal.

Staten Island Home Inspection - Why Do I Need One?

The objective of a home inspection is to make the buyer aware of the current condition of the home in Staten Island. A home can be attractive, but to the untrained eye there could be underlying problems in the structure of the home, such as the foundation, electrical or plumbing. A home inspection will raise attention to these areas giving the buyer the opportunity to opt out of the purchase of the home, to ask the repairs be completed before the purchase of the home will take place, or ask for credit off the agreed upon price to enable the repairs to be made.

The home inspectors of the Staten Island are aware of the most common problem with the homes in that area, which is water damage. The home inspectors in Staten Island will thoroughly inspect your home for water damage in the basement, attic and any other location where water can cause damage. The home inspectors will inspect the rest of your home to ensure it is up to par and that no other damage or potential damage is present.

It would seem to be obvious to a potential homebuyer how important it is to have the home inspected by a qualified home inspector. It only makes sense. When hiring a home inspector to inspect the largest and most important purchase you will ever make in your lifetime, to ensure that the inspector is qualified to do the job. Unfortunately, many potential homebuyers do not spend enough time researching home inspectors before they hire one to inspect the home they are considering to purchase. Many people only inquire about the price of the home inspection and the availability of the home inspector before hiring a home inspector, which is an ineffective method of choosing a home inspector.

When you are looking for the most inexpensive home inspector you can find who is readily available, you may get exactly what you paid for. So what qualities do you want to look for when hiring a home inspector?

You will want to know if the home inspector is licensed. Home inspectors in some states are required to be licensed, if you are in a state which requires licensing, make sure to get the entire license number, which may include letters before or after the numbers. You want to make sure you have a licensed professional and not an intern or trainee.

You will also want to know if the inspector has had any formal training. If so, then is it from a recognized training school? This is a recent addition to the home inspection profession in many states. Several states still do not require licensing or regulation. In those states formal training is optional.

When it comes to the experience of the home inspector, the number of years can give the wrong impression about the number of homes inspected, which is much more important. When looking for a home inspector, you will want to inquire as to the number of inspections performed during a year, over 200 is customary. The overall years of experience as well as the number of homes inspected are still important.

A home inspector who is affiliated with a reputable home inspection society has already taken the time to receive the proper training, testing, and paid his dues in order to belong to this association, so they are more likely to perform high quality work for their clients. However not all association memberships are the same, so you must do the research on the association and it's motto. You will want to know what is expected of its members, by doing so you may learn some things about the profession and the abilities and the dedication required to give a quality home inspection.

Last, but not least, the report. It is the reason for hiring an inspector. You want to be provided a written report with detailed information regarding the home. Your next question should be how and when you will receive the report. Will it be email or mail, or are you required to pick it up. Will it take them 48 hours or longer?

As a rule the inspection will take approximately 2+ hours. Anyone saying it can be done in an hour; will not be giving you a thorough home inspection. Just remember to take precautions and do some research before hiring a home inspector. If you settle for the cheapest and the one most available, beware you will probably get what you are paying for.

Copyright © 2008 Olympian Civil Home and Building Inspectors, 2008 All Rights Reserved

Is The House High? Eight Home Inspection Clues That Marijuana May Have Been Grown In A Home

When considering the purchase of a home, it's a possibility that you have no earthly clue as to what types of activities may previously taken place in that home. Sometimes the history of the home is known...and other times it isn't. Often, a Home Inspection report resulting from a professional Home Inspection can reveal some interesting, and potentially surprising and unexpected, issues.

Recently, there has been an elevated amount of press given what is commonly referred to as a Grow Op...an issue where it is determined that marijuana has been being grown inside a house. While this isn't a particularly new issue, it is one that is worthy of some examination and thought from the perspective of a home-buyer and where it is the experienced Home Inspector that often makes a determination based on observation of a myriad of conditions. So, other than being an illegal activity (I say...against the law) in most places (and not a recommended activity, I might add), what's the big deal? Well, if there has been any large-scale Grow Op occurring in a home, then there are any number of potentially...let me repeat...potentially adverse consequences. Electrical systems may have been modified, automatic watering systems may have been installed, and the interior (and sometimes the structure of the home itself) may have been adversely altered or otherwise affected.The presence of automatic and large volume watering systems may have introduced enough extra moisture into the interior spaces so as to facilitate the production of fungal growth...including mold.

I have never personally inspected a home where a large-scale grow op had taken place. As a professional Home Inspector and the owner of a Raleigh Home Inspection firm, I recently had the occasion to inspect a home where there was evidence of a small-scale Grow Op present; the subject home was unoccupied and mostly vacant except for a few interesting pieces of...equipment...and some minor modifications to the interior. The instance that I recall was obviously the result of small-scale marijuana cultivation...perhaps someone growing a few pot plants for personal/recreational use...and maybe even by a beginner or a rookie grower in the experimental stage. There was a heat lamp and a fan/ventilation unit that had been left behind and there was some loose and disconnected flexible duct-work to be seen. There had been holes cut into a couple of the interior walls of the basement to allow for the routing of the duct-work and in the attic space and (apparently as hiding place), there were various books and a collection of periodical publications that related to the art and the science of hydroponics, marijuana growing, and the like. Within the scope of a general and visual Home Inspection, there was no evidence that any serious issues had resulted from the subject activities...there were no musty odors, no visible fungal/microbial growth on finished surfaces or in unfinished areas, there were no electrical system modifications...nothing to indicate anything but a very small-scale operational activity had taken place. But this was a small-scale operation. Had it been a large-scale operation, involving substantially more equipment and, perhaps, a higher degree of sophistication and/or methodology, then there may well have been other evidence present. Since our home-buying clients were present during the Home Inspection, all of the observations were discussed with the them and we were able to observe everything first hand.

Some conditions that one might look for, in determining whether or not there has been a large-scale Grow Operation present in the residential dwelling, are:

  • Evidence that the electrical system, to include the electrical service has been modified (sometimes to illegally obtain free power from the power company)
  • Evidence of a large amount of non-professional or amateurish electrical work
  • The presence of unusual water piping, or water hoses that are either permanently installed or that have been routed in and through the interior, or of exterior hose faucet fittings having been installed in odd locations at interior spaces
  • The presence of duct-work, either rigid or flexible, installed or routed through finished or unfinished space in an atypical manner
  • The alteration of interior walls and surfaces to facilitate the routing of ventilation duct-work...and this may manifest itself as visible repairs or patches that may be present indicating that such duct-work had been previously installed but since removed
  • Altered or severed framing members either in unfinished spaces e.g. in a basement or in an attic space
  • Visible fungal/microbial growth on surfaces in suspected areas (this can be indicative of other excessive moisture sources or unrelated conditions)
  • Any such related conditions that just seem...out of place...for a residential setting

Does the fact that the house has been used for a Grow Op mean that it is unsuitable for habitability? Very likely, no, this is not the case. The answer to that question may well be more a matter of scope than of fact.  Although, in the case of a large-scale operation, there can be significant and reportable issues that may need to be investigated and corrected; even then, the issues are usually able to be satisfactorily corrected. The marijuana plants themselves, even though the very subject matter can be deemed spectacular and considered somewhat alarming, probably haven't caused the house any problems if there were only a few of them at any given time...no more of an issue than if there had been just a few Philodendrin or Dieffenbachia (common house plants) flourishing inside the home at some time. It's when there are a large number of plants inside where the possibility of adverse conditions is increased....and maybe even exponentially so.

What's the best way to increase the chances of knowing that such activities, and any resulting conditions may have historically occurred in the home? One really good way is to attain the services of a Home Inspector and have a professional Home Inspection performed on the property. While the odds that any evidence of a Grow Op manifesting itself in any given home are minimal, you'll feel better knowing that the home was inspected. There is a potentially innumerable number of other issues that you just might want to know about as well!

Are Home Inspections Different For the Seller?

Are home inspections different for the seller?

If you are looking to buy or sell a home, one vitally important thing that you need to have done is a home inspection. Most often, when you think of home inspections, you think they are something that a buyer does before making that big purchase. Inspections are done so that the individual is aware of the current condition of the property. In most cases, it can either make or break the deal. A buyer has one done so that they can be assured that they are making a sound financial decision. Nothing is worse than spending a lot of money on a home only to have it turn into a money pit due to hidden, unseen problems.

A seller finds it is in their best interest to have a home inspection done prior to putting their home on the market. This way, they are alerted to the problems that exist and have an opportunity to make all necessary repairs before the buyer has their inspection done. By doing this, the actual purchase process is not held up by re-negotiations and by the problem of getting the repairs done before closing.

Since it is important for both parties to get a home inspection done, it makes you wonder what the difference between a buyer home inspection and a seller home inspection is. Well, that answer is nothing. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you receive the same inspection. Both inspections cover the same areas of concern such as the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, crawlspaces, attics, doors and windows and are handled in the same manner. They both offer a written report that details all their findings, both good and bad. Actually, the inspector really doesn't need to know if the home inspection is for the seller or the buyer.

As a seller, the home inspection is a way to avoid having to make hasty decisions right before the sale is completed. It allows you the chance to determine how you want to handle the problems-either making the repairs or disclosing them and then pricing the home accordingly. By using the buyers home inspection only, you find out about the repairs too late in the process. In most cases, your only options would be to get them fixed as they were not disclosed in the contract or not do them and take a big price cut to account for the cost of the repair. Either way, it is not a pleasant or appealing situation in which to find yourself.

So, before placing your home on the real estate market, take the time to get a pre-listing home inspection done. This way, as a seller, you are informed of the actual condition of your property and have the chance make the needed corrections before the buyer has their inspection done and it also eliminates the possibility of surprise problems. This has the potential to save you a substantial amount of money in repair costs and also allows you to price your home correctly.

A Home Inspection - Is it Really Necessary in Your Home Buying Process?

You plan to have your house inspected to be able to identify what are the areas that must be repaired immediately or need replacement. You want to determine if it is necessary for you to hire the plumber or electrician to have everything fixed. Things such as ceilings, chimneys, roofs and other parts should all be checked to avoid any headaches in the future. Basically, you want your house to be inspected to know the actual condition of the property and so many reasons you can think of.

Home inspection process will let you assess if you are actually paying right on a particular house. If the home inspector begins to go through several areas in the house and sees that there are several defects, you can ask for a price adjustment. You really don't have to pay a higher price in the beginning then incur more after you have started staying in the house. Alternatively, if he sees there are only minor problems, you can be assured that are making the right move in buying the house. You will no longer have to worry if it is stable enough that can last for ages.

After you have bought it, it is also advantageous if you have it inspected so you can go through those that need repairs. Based on the form that the inspected gave you, you can look at what must be prioritized in your home repair project. It does not really have to be done all at once. You can simply choose that can fit within your budget or those that are of much importance. Then you can slowly fix then once you have enough funds to finance the project again.

A home inspection after the deal will tell you that you are not adding the value of the property without undergoing proper documentation. It will prove that you took your own initiative to improve the house value because you might sell the house in the future. Hence, you can demand for a higher asking price compare to the one you have paid. Potential homebuyers can be assured that your house is still at its best condition.

Having your home go through a home inspection, before or after the deal, is smart move for a homeowner. It is simply a protection from any possible issues that will make it more expensive on your part. It can also help you assess if the property that you want is indeed a worthwhile investment. It is also a sort of formality on your part that you are putting everything that you have done on the house into proper documentation. In this way, the public will know of the actual condition of the property.

For security reasons, keep all the important papers that you receive from the home inspector. You might need them in the future. You will see the importance of home inspection process once you have started to live in the property. Therefore, never let go of the opportunity to have your home, inspected by a certified home inspector.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is defined as an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation.

In layman's terms, having a home inspected is akin to giving it a physical check-up. If problems or symptoms are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation.

As a home buyer/seller or real estate professional, you have a right to know exactly what a typical real estate inspection is. The following information should give you a better understanding of exactly what your inspector should (and should not) do for you during the course of a home inspection.

First and foremost, an inspection is a visual survey of those easily accessible areas that an inspector can clearly see. No destructive testing or dismantling is done during the course of an inspection, hence an inspector can only tell a client exactly what was clearly in evidence at the time and date of the inspection. The inspectors eyes are not any better than the buyers, except that the inspector is trained to look for specific tell-tale signs and clues that may lead to the discovery of actual or potential defects or deficiencies.

Inspectors base their inspections on the current industry standards provided to them by their professional societies. These Standards tell what the inspector will and can do, as well as what the inspector will not do. Many inspectors give a copy of the standards to their clients. If your inspector has not given you a copy, ask for one, or go to the American Home Inspector Directory and look for your home inspectors association.

The Industry Standards clearly spell out specific areas in which the inspector must identify various defects and deficiencies, as well as identifying the specific systems, components and items that are being inspected. There are many excluded areas noted in the standards that the inspector does not have to report on, for example; private water and sewer systems, solar systems, security systems, etc.

The inspector is not limited by the standards and if the inspector wishes to include additional inspection services (typically for an extra fee) then he/she may perform as many specific inspection procedures as the client may request. Some of these additional services may include wood-boring insect inspection, radon testing, or a variety of environmental testing, etc.

Most inspectors will not give definitive cost estimates for repairs and replacements since the costs can vary greatly from one contractor to another. Inspectors typically will tell clients to secure three reliable quotes from those contractors performing the type of repairs in question.

Life expectancies are another area that most inspectors try not to get involved in. Every system and component in a building will have a typical life expectancy. Some items and units may well exceed those expected life spans, while others may fail much sooner than anticipated. An inspector may indicate to a client, general life expectancies, but should never give exact time spans for the above noted reasons.

The average time for an inspection on a typical 3-bedroom home usually takes 2 to 4 hours, depending upon the number of bathrooms, kitchens, fireplaces, attics, etc., that have to be inspected. Inspections that take less than two hours typically are considered strictly cursory, "walk-through" inspections and provide the client with less information than a full inspection.

Many inspectors belong to national inspection organizations such as ISHI, ASHI, and NAHI. These national organizations provide guidelines for inspectors to perform their inspections.

All inspectors provide clients with reports. The least desirable type of report would be an oral report, as they do not protect the client, and leave the inspector open for misinterpretation and liability. Written reports are far more desirable, and come in a variety of styles and formats.

The following are some of the more common types of written reports:

1. Checklist with comments

2. Rating System with comments

3. Narrative report with either a checklist or rating system

4. Pure Narrative report

Four key areas of most home/building inspections cover the exterior, the basement or crawlspace areas, the attic or crawlspace areas and the living areas. Inspectors typically will spend sufficient time in all of these areas to visually look for a host of red flags, telltale clues and signs or defects and deficiencies. As the inspector completes a system, major component or area, he/she will then discuss the findings with the clients, noting both the positive and negative features.

The inspected areas of a home/building will consist of all of the major visible and accessible electro-mechanical systems as well as the major visible and accessible structural systems and components of a building as they appeared and functioned at the time and date of the inspection.

To locate a home inspector near you go to the American Home Inspector Directory a national database of home inspectors. Their directory list home inspection companies by state or zip code. Search for you home inspector is free. They have members from ASHI, NAHI. ISHA and independent inspection organizations.

Myths You Mustn't Believe About Home Inspections

There are a lot of false ideas going around about house inspections and the process and need for hiring home inspectors. Believing these myths could in many cases cost you a lot of money. So in the interest of saving you as many headaches as much cash as possible, here is the truth about some of these myths.

1) The report from the inspector serves as a list of needed repairs that the seller must address. Truth: The seller has the option of using this list as a list of repairs, or alternatively as a tool for negotiating, to help move the deal along.

2) There's no real difference in home inspectors. Truth: A person is not qualified as a home inspector just because he or she claims the title-or even if they're certified. In fact, some states don't even require that an inspector have a license. Therefore, it's essential that you examine the person's credentials carefully, and if you're not familiar with the certifying body, investigate them to make sure they are credible. It's also a good idea to visit ashi.org to make sure that the inspector is a member of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Finally, find out how many inspections they do in a typical year. You want to hire someone who does somewhere around 200 annually.

3) If your house is being sold "as is," there's no real need to hire an inspector. The truth: It doesn't matter. An "as-is" home should still be inspected, since these houses aren't sold totally defect-free-but rather, with defects that have been left unrepaired.

4) You don't have to be there as the inspection takes place. Truth: While you don't legally need to be there, it's still best if you are. This way, you'll learn how the various systems in your house operate, and you'll also gain a greater knowledge of the exact condition of the home. Also, it's easier to ask both the inspector and seller questions if you're there at the time.

5) Homes that are newly built don't really need to be inspected. Truth: According to a recent investigation conducted by CONSUMER REPORTS magazine, about 15 percent of newly-constructed homes are sold with serious flaws. Another study found that 41 percent of new houses had problems like moisture and mold, while about 34 percent had structural / frame issues.

6) Most houses only really need a termite inspection. Truth: While home inspectors do check for termite damage, there are many more potential problems than just these pesky bugs. A good home inspector will examine the house's overall structure, the electricity, plumbing, central air and heating, and structural problems.

7) All you really need is a qualified person to give you an assessment of the property's condition; a professional inspector is not needed. Truth: Unlike the so-called "qualified person," a professional inspector will log his or her findings in a legal, written document. This becomes a formal and factual statement of everything discovered about the property. Legally, this is much more forceful than an oral assessment that has no written documentation to back it up.

8) It's enough to have a general contractor conduct an informal home inspection. Truth: There are many states that legally prohibit a general contractor from performing home inspections. Since this person will likely be performing the repairs that are to be done, it is considered a conflict of interest. While it's true that a contractor is often qualified to make the same assessments as a professional home inspector, the inspector has a knowledge of mechanical, plumbing, fire safety and electrical issues for a variety of structures, in a variety of ages, that the contractor might not. He also often knows building codes better than the contractor. Most importantly, his future work will not depend on how many problems he finds with your property-as the contractor's might.

9) If the property has recently been appraised, or if I intend to have it appraised before purchase, there's no need to have it inspected. Truth: While an appraiser can be expected to call your attention to major problems associated with the house and property (for instance, a foundation that appears to be cracking), they normally will not have the training that the home inspector has. As a result, they normally will not do a job that is as complete or detailed. You can almost certainly be sure, for instance, that they're not going to make a trip to the rooftop to examine the structure up there.

10) Taking a walkthrough through the house and around the property serves the same purpose as a home inspection. Truth: No home-buyer should consider a walkthrough a replacement for a formal inspection. A walkthrough will provide you the chance to verify that things which the home inspector recommended has actually been done. But the inspection should take place several weeks (or possibly months) before the close, while the walkthrough occurs a few days before closing. So let's repeat this principle: the walkthrough is a chance to make sure that repairs which the inspector suggested have been done; it is not a chance for the inspection itself. The reason is obvious: If the walkthrough is the first time that major problems are seen, there is little or no time to have them fixed before the scheduled closing. But even more importantly, the inspection is conducted by an objective third party-someone who is trained to see things that you might otherwise miss. A walkthrough is normally just you and the seller, neither of whom is probably as qualified to evaluate a structure as the inspector. Add to that the fact that the walkthrough normally moves rather quickly and you have a situation that is not at all conducive to a thorough examination of the property. So leave it to the professional to find those things that might cost you in the future. It might cost you a few dollars now for the inspection process, but not nearly as much as the damage to the house might cost you if you miss something important.

Home Inspection List

A home inspection list can help people understand what a walk-through by a professional home inspector will accomplish. Below is a general overview of a home inspection list or checklist that professional inspectors use to determine the exterior and interior condition of a home either prior to purchase or post-purchase litigation. A inspection list is used to note serious problems that will require repairs over $1000, as well as any repair or replacement requirements for safety and health, the life expectancy of major parts, maintenance and safety aspects, and, finally, positive points throughout the home.

This personal inspection list will help homeowners better understand the surface of a typical inspection, what to look for, and what will be reviewed in a professional home inspection.

Exterior

The exterior of a home is inspected from a visual distance to spot any glaring issues with condition, and then inspected more closely. The following elements are inspected:

• Roof, chimney, vents, and flashings

• Exterior Walls and Foundation

• Fascia, soffits, gutters, and eaves

• Garage or carport and sheds

• Windows, doors, and sills

• Porches and/or decks (and balconies if applicable)

• Grounds - sloping, drainage, and grading assessment (to ensure water does not slope toward the foundation)

The condition is noted on the checklist, as well as any notes for items that need to be repaired, as well as an assessment of how minor or major the repairs will be for any given item. Pools and spas are not included in a home inspection list.

Interior

The interior is the same insofar as checking the condition and noting any necessary repairs that will be needed. The following elements are reviewed:

• Floors, walls, ceilings, doors and windows

• Heating, Air Conditioning, and Ventilation

• Attic - Insulation and Ventilation

• Plumbing - Waste drainage, fixtures, and supply

• Foundation - Walls, basement floor, and posts/beams

• Waterproofing, wood rot, moisture penetration, cracks, etc.

• Electrical - Service, supply, and wiring

Other Components

A home inspection checklist also notes if there have been any upgrades to items, such as a new HVAC system or new pipes. The elements to an inspection are often both positive and negative, noting that which must be repaired prior to purchase, or that should have been repaired (and is being questioned under litigation).

It's important to note that a basic professional inspection does not check for asbestos, radon gas, toxic mold, lead paint, or pest control, nor does it include well water or septic system inspection and analysis. This will require a special inspection from a certified and licensed Environmental Testing inspector. It's also important to understand that professional home inspection will not give precise estimates for repairs, appraisals, or certify compliance or non-compliance with local building codes.

This home inspection list is a brief overview of what is checked by professional home inspectors, and a typical inspection can take from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the details of the house and the thoroughness of the inspector.

Understanding Your Home Inspection Report

After pouring through real estate news, studying up on loans and neighborhoods, attending myriads of open houses and even digging into house hunting online - most home buyers feel like they are true real estate experts. However, for all but the most handy of house hunters, getting into really looking at the house shows just how little most people actually know about the nuts and bolts of what is probably the largest purchase they'll ever make.

So YOU make the right decision and schedule a home inspection. You even attend the inspection and ask what you think are all the right questions - then get the report and find it reads with a whole different language then what you were speaking at the time of inspection. Terms like "serviceable condition...", "monitor...", "conducive to decay...", "satisfactory to..." What do these along with the other comments and ratings ACTUALLY mean to you the home buyer?

Here's a few pointers to help you translate the report into something you can really use.

1. The best home inspectors are even keeled, objective and "Just the Facts" is their byline. They're not alarmists and they don't try to play down the importance of things. Sometimes that straightforwardness can make it confusing and difficult for you, the buyer, to know what's a really big deal and what's not - whether you should move forward with the purchase, what to plan ahead for; whether to re-negotiate or walk way.

As a home inspector I've categorized things as a safety hazard that a couple hours and less than $100 would fix. For example a bathroom faucet with the hot and cold supply lines reversed. On the other hand you might see a simple line like "extensive earth to wood contact observed" that after further inspection opens a pretty pricey can of worms.

A home inspector shouldn't provide you with a repair bid and in most cases won't go into what the repairs (if any are needed) would entail, their job is to inspect and report. That being said, 9 times out of 10 they probably will verbally give you the information you might need to help you understand whether the situation is a serious problem or what you may be looking at down the road.

2. Many times I am asked by the home buyer accompanying me on an inspection, "Who should I get to fix that?" Personally I don't recommend anyone because it's an uncomfortable conflict of interest for me but instead I suggest they ask their local real estate agents because they know the area, who's reputable and who isn't. The other answer may be as simple as "You don't need to hire anyone, go down to the hardware store and pick up a _____, here's where it goes. I'm not sure how much it will cost but it probably won't be much." Either way, go ahead and ask your inspector - you'll probably find out that most of the items in the home inspection report will probably be DIY items or maintenance issues. Even if you're uncomfortable at first with handling DIY items, a couple of You Tube videos and some advice from the clerk at the hardware store should help you get into the projects. Either way you'll know more about the issue at hand and whether you should hire someone to do the small fixes.

3. The second most popular question is "What would you do if this was your house? What would you fix and when?" The home inspector's job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection that might need repair, replacement, maintenance, further inspection - or what might be on its last leg. They also are experienced enough with homes to know that no home is perfect. For example, if you ask "What would you (the home inspector) do with an item described as "at the end of its serviceable lifetime?" The might say "If it were mine, I wouldn't do a thing to it. Just know that it could break in the next 5 months, or in the next 5 years. Keep your home warranty in effect, because that should cover it when it does break."

"What would you do if this was your house? What would you fix and when?" is a good question because it puts you in the position to:

  • Understand better what does and doesn't need to be repaired immediately
  • Better prioritize the work you plan to do to the home (budget or renegotiate accordingly)
  • Understand and get used to constant maintenance that comes along with home ownership
  • Understand the importance of a good home warranty plan.

4. A common scenario is to get home, open up the inspection report and have no clue whatsoever what he or she was referring to when they pointed out the wax ring that needs replacement or the TPR valve that is improperly installed. Your best bet for better understanding the home inspection report is to ask the inspector ( at the end of the inspection) to walk through the house with you to point out all the items they've noted needing repair, maintenance or further inspection. This way when you get the report you'll have a better understanding of what and where the various items in the report belong. (Make sure your inspector includes as many pictures as necessary in their report.)

The bottom line is; if at all possible, arrange to attend your home inspection. This will be well worth it when you receive your report and you're able to recognize each item and understand what the comments actually are referring to. At the end of the day, the home inspection report is just that - an objective report on the operations of the basic systems found in a house. It's going to be up to you to follow up and ask the right questions that will help in making the right decisions for you when it comes time to purchase the home.