I think inspection day is exciting. It's an opportunity to spend an extended period of time in your new prospective house, exploring every nook, cranny, closet, and attic. You get to turn on all the faucets, and run each of the showers. You get to test all the appliances, and even peel back a corner of the wall-to-wall carpet to see if there is hardwood underneath.
What should be inspected? Everything. It's important to examine all areas of the home, including the exterior, interior, attic, basement, electric, plumbing, and heating and air systems. Faulty construction, improper electrical wiring, inefficient insulation, old heating, building permit violations, and other unseen problems can lead to expensive home repairs -- large and small. You and your inspector need to examine every square inch of the house -- from the electric garage door to the built-in microwave.
However, don't assume that if you hire a home inspector, he or she will be able to tell you absolutely everything you need to know about the house. They will cover almost everything, but you might have to fill in a few blanks. Home inspectors are very careful not to take on liability for issues that are outside their area of expertise, so there are certain areas that home inspectors will be hesitant to "sign off"on.
These are the areas that you will need to follow up on by hiring an additional inspector, whose expertise will give you the full picture:
Ask your inspector if he or she is certified to inspect the roof. Some inspectors are not, and you will need to call in a roof specialist to climb up there. Keep in mind that if you are doing an inspection in snowy weather, it may be very difficult to access and examine the roof. It may be possible to have a special provision that allows you to extend the inspection contingency specifically to accommodate the roof, in the hopes that the weather improves.
Your regular inspector may not do this, but if there is any question about stability or hints of structural damage, have a chimney specialist do a "chimney cam" and run a small video camera down the chimney to see it from the inside.
Another specialized inspection, especially for hillside and cliffside properties, or in flood areas, a geological inspection can unearth a severe drainage or ground-shifting problem—and save you thousands from further damage.
Your inspector may tell whether or not things are " flowing." However, a sewer expert can use a "sewer cam" to discover cracks or breaks in the sewer line from the house to the street -- especially on properties that are heavily landscaped, where root growth can crack and clog the pipeline. This can be a serious expense, so find out now. Trust me, this inspection is worth its weight in gold. A sewer line replacement can be an enormous expense.
This is usually done by the seller, because most mortgage companies and banks will need it prior to allowing a loan on the house. But whoever does it, make sure you review the finished report and all the recommended work is taken care of.
Moisture, mold, and toxins inspection
It's important to check for moisture in any basement or below-ground-level areas. Moisture is an indicator of the potential for a mold problem -- if there isn't one already. You'll want to make sure your house has a clean bill of mold heath, especially in wet and seaside areas.
You need this if the house was built prior to 1975. You may find it on insulation around ducting, water heaters, and pipes. If it is accessible and can be removed by an asbestos specialist, then maybe this is something you might want to ask the seller to do.
This is an area that may not come under any specific additional inspector. But your home inspector may not be the final word. This will be a joint effort with your inspector and your real estate agent to determine if all additions and major changes have been permitted and signed off on by the city. Converted garages, sun porches, or add-on bedrooms can increase square footage, but when done without permits, they can also add headaches when it's time to make them legal.
This article originally appeared on Trulia.com.
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