What Types of Home Inspections Do I Need?

When you make an investment, you want to make sure that that investment will give you payoffs for years to come, whether it is stocks, a new car, or buying a house. Buying a house is often the biggest purchase a person will make, and the buyer wants to make sure that such a large investment in their future will pay off in the form of sturdy, consistent shelter. To learn about the state of the house, buyers will usually get a home inspection.

A general home inspection will cover many parts and systems in the house to ensure they are in working order, as well as point out any flaws or deficiencies. It is highly recommended you get a home inspection as part of your due diligence so you know what you are getting into. There are also specific home inspections you can order that aren’t part of the general inspection. You may need some of these based on local and state laws, features of the house, and the age of the house. Ask your inspector if any of these 13 home inspections are needed and if they provide them.

Roof and attic inspection

One of the most important parts of the home is the roof and the supporting structure. A home inspector will catch loose shingles or dark spots in a general inspection. However, if you suspect there may be problems with the roof, have a trained inspector look at both sides of the roof. The roof may appear secure from the outside, but the wood and insulation underneath should also be looked at. In a place like Boise with hot summers and cold winters, having insulation to keep your home at the right temperature is imperative to your comfort and your electric bills.

HVAC inspection

If your air conditioning or heater is making odd sounds or is heating/cooling rooms unevenly or ineffectively, then it is probably time to get them inspected or replaced. Uneven heating/cooling could also be a sign of sealing leaks or poor insulation in the walls or attic. Upgrading HVAC systems is pricey, but with newer, energy-efficient technology, your utility bills could go down as a result. Usually, the best time to inspect or replace a furnace or air conditioner is during the off-season when demand and prices are generally lower (i.e. heaters in the summer and air conditioners in the winter).

Chimney inspection

This applies to both gas fireplaces and wood-burning fireplaces. Unburnt materials from wood, gas, or anything that falls down your chimney can restrict or block the smoke from properly venting through the flue, which can result in health problems and a fire hazard. Call a chimney sweep to inspect your fireplace and chimney to ensure they are in good working order.

Electrical inspection

No matter the age of the home, it is important to make sure that the wiring in the house is safe and up to code, especially in add-ons and additions. Having your home’s electrical systems tested can help mitigate the chance of an electrical fire.

Mold inspection

Mold is a problem that can often take time to become noticeable, which leaves a lot of room for it to grow and spread in places we can’t easily see. If you see mold, it is important to get a trained mold remediator to look at the problem. A home with mold could be suffering from water damage, leaks, flooding, or poor air circulation.

Foundation & crawl space inspection

The home’s foundation literally holds the home up, and foundation problems can spell danger for the entire house. A cracked or sagging foundation can lead to cracked walls, uneven floors, deformed doorways, or cause gaps to form between the walls and ceiling. If cracks or problems are found in the foundation, contact a structural engineer to ensure that they can be fixed.

Crawl spaces are common in homes of all ages and should be inspected as well for signs of mold, leaks, or foundation problems. Costs for fixing crawl space or foundation issues can add up quickly, so getting a professional to point them out can save you from making a costly home purchase.

Pest inspection

Termites and other creepy-crawlies can range from causing a nuisance up to causing major structural damage to the home. A general inspection can reveal damaged areas or places where bugs and other unwanted guests can enter the home. However, hiring a trained pest exterminator is a surefire way to find the extent of the damage and how to stop the pests from entering your home. These professionals can find the nests of termites, spiders, rodents, carpenter ants, and more common pests, as well as the extent of the infestation and how to deal with the problem. This is an optional inspection, although some states and cities require a pest inspection with all home sales. In general, it is worth it to get a pest inspection if there is any suspicion of an infestation.

Lead-based paint inspection

Homes built before 1978 (and maybe some homes built a few years after) have a high likelihood of containing lead-based paint. Even low levels of this paint can cause serious health and developmental issues in children. Even if the owners have a lead-based paint disclosure on hand, it is important to hire a trained professional to test for lead-based paint. If there is evidence of lead-based paint, talk to the testing professional about how to safely remove the paint from the home.

Asbestos inspection

Another common sight in older homes is the presence of asbestos. Homes built before 1975 have a high likelihood of having asbestos and must be inspected for and removed by trained professionals. If you get an asbestos test, give it some time to be completed, and don’t sign the contract unless you know there is no asbestos in the home.

Plumbing and septic inspection

Anything having to do with plumbing is nobody’s favorite job. However, hiring a plumber to inspect the major pipe systems in your home can give you peace of mind when it comes to water damage and the status of the plumbing in your home. Just like with a plumbing emergency, a problem with your septic system can ruin your day and cost a lot of money. If the home you want to purchase is on a septic system, it is worth it to hire a professional to check that the sludge layer, absorption area, and plumbing components are all in working order.

Radon inspection

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas that is heavier than air and tends to settle in basements and crawl spaces. Radon and the elements it breaks down into tend to stick to surfaces, including airborne particles, which make it the second-largest cause of lung cancer after cigarettes. The EPA recommends testing a home for radon at the point of sale to ensure that the home is safe. If radon is detected, abatement can be as easy as improving ventilation in the basements and crawl spaces to let air circulate through these spaces more easily. Luckily, radon levels in southeast Idaho are low, but it never hurts to be sure. Luckily, radon tests can be found at your local hardware store.

Pool and spa inspection

Pools and hot tubs are desirable amenities and are often a selling point for buyers. However, it may be worth having the pool/spa inspected to make sure that heaters, filters, and pumps are all in working order. In addition, the pool/spa should be inspected for cracks or leaks, as well as ensure that there is proper drainage. Covers should also be inspected to ensure they fully cover the pool and don’t have tears or cracks.

Soil inspection

The soil your home’s foundation sits on is just as important as the foundation itself. In places like the Pacific Northwest that get a lot of rain, the soil can become waterlogged, which makes the soil unstable. If your home is located on the side of a hill, the home can slide away during a heavy rainstorm. A soil scientist can give you a breakdown of the soil content and how it works in conjunction with the weather and your home.

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