Inspection day is exciting. Besides running all the faucets, testing the appliances, and peeling back that shag carpet to check for hardwood (fingers crossed!), what else should be inspected? Simply put: Everything.
Your home inspector should examine every square inch of the house, from the electric garage door to the built-in microwave. 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. However, don’t assume that if you hire a home inspector, they will be able to tell you absolutely everything you need to know about the house. Home inspectors are very careful not to take on liability for issues outside their area of expertise, so there are certain areas that home inspectors will be hesitant to “sign off” on. Fill in the blanks by following up with additional inspectors who are experts in the following eight fields.
1. Roof inspection
You’ll need to call in a roof specialist if your inspector isn’t qualified to inspect the roof. Also, keep in mind that the roof may be difficult to access and examine if it’s covered with snow. In this case, it may be possible to include a special provision that allows you to extend the inspection contingency specifically to accommodate the roof, in the hope that the weather improves.
2. Chimney inspection
If you or your home inspector suspect instability or hints of structural damage, it’s important to hire a chimney specialist. The specialist will be able to use a “chimney cam” (a small video camera used to inspect the chimney from the inside) to uncover hidden damage.
3. Geological inspection
A property on a cliff or hillside, or one that is located in a flood zone, can benefit from a geological inspection. The inspector could unearth a severe drainage or ground-shifting problem — and save you thousands in repair costs down the line.
4. Sewer inspection
Your inspector may be able to tell whether things are, um, “flowing,” but a sewer expert can get a better sense of the integrity of your sewer line with a sewer camera to discover cracks or breaks from the house to the street. A sewer inspection is critical for properties that are heavily landscaped, where root growth can crack and clog the pipeline. Don’t overestimate the importance of this inspection; a sewer line replacement can be an enormous expense.
5. Termite inspection
The seller commonly pays for this inspection, because many mortgage companies and banks will need one before approving a loan on the house. Regardless of who pays, make sure you review the finished report and that all the recommended work has been completed.
6. Moisture, mold, and toxin inspection
It’s important to check for moisture in any crawlspace, basement, or below-ground-level areas. Moisture indicates a potential mold problem — if there isn’t one already. Be sure your house has a clean bill of mold health, especially in wet areas close to oceans or lakes.
7. Asbestos inspection
If the house was built prior to 1975, you will need an asbestos inspection. Asbestos can be present on insulation around ducting, water heaters, and pipes. If it is accessible and can be removed by an asbestos specialist, consider asking the seller to foot the bill.
8. Nonconforming-use inspection
The issue of nonconforming use does not require a specific additional inspector. It is usually a joint effort between your inspector and your real estate agent to determine if all additions and major changes have been properly permitted. Converted garages, sun porches, or add-on bedrooms can increase square footage, but when completed improperly, they can add headaches when it’s time to make them legal.