You found your dream home, put down an offer, and the sellers accepted. While that house is under contract, you call in the pros to inspect the home inside and out, checking for everything from faulty electrical and HVAC issues to roof leaks and plumbing woes.
While a standard home inspection is a thorough investigation of everything from roof condition to plumbing, it may not tell the whole story. Think of your general home inspector as a family medicine doctor. They can give you a good overview of the whole picture of your prospective new home, but they’ll likely refer you to a specialist if they suspect anything else seems wrong.
Here’s what you need to know about that general home inspection test — and other top tests you might need for your new place.
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a typical home inspection examines visible elements of the following:
Attic and any visible insulation and fans
Structural components, including walls, ceiling, floors, windows, doors, and foundation
Upon completion of a home inspection test, the inspector will issue a report making recommendations for repairs and pointing out the general condition of appliances, systems, and structures.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive soil gas that’s odorless and commonly found in basements or the lowest level of a home. Anyone can hire a radon inspector—or overall home inspector with radon-testing capabilities—but it might be especially useful if you live in an area with elevated radon levels.
Wondering how to test air quality in your home for radon? Visit the EPA Map of Radon Zones to determine your new home’s risk and find state and local resources for radon testing and inspection in your area. You can also purchase an inexpensive long-term radon test kit at your local big-box store to monitor your home over a more extended period, and many state programs offer free household test kits.
Unfortunately, water damage can be hidden almost anywhere in a home. It may have been caused by a leaky pipe, plumping issues, heavy rain or a multitude of other reasons. Since it is not always in plain sight, it’s important to be on the lookout.
Mold and mildew love high humidity, moist basements, and leaky roofs. Before you sign all those papers, you may want a mold inspection to make sure mold isn’t lurking inside the walls or under floors. At Brinks Home™, we suggest adding flood detectors to your home that notify you if a flood does occur so you can limit water damage.
Cracks in walls, uneven floors, and water damage can signify potential structural or foundation issues. Start with the National Council of Structural Engineers Association to find a licensed residential structural engineer in your area. Hiring a structural engineer will set you back a few hundred dollars, but the average cost to repair a foundation is around $4,600.
Homes built before 1980 need to be tested for lead paint and asbestos. Signs of asbestos construction materials in a home include vermiculite insulation in the attic, pre-1980 vinyl floors, and cement sheet walls. You can purchase at-home asbestos air test kits, but an asbestos inspector will collect samples and analyze home materials, making recommendations on how to remedy the situation.
A good first step for determining whether you have lead paint throughout your pre-1980s home is to call your local health department or visit the National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program for resources. You can also buy at-home lead test kits to check everything from the paint on your windowsills to the finish on a piece of antique furniture to fully ensure your home is free of these harmful materials.
Consider hiring a licensed pest control expert to look for signs of bugs and rodents throughout the interior and exterior of the home. They’ll check for evidence of damage from pests like cockroaches, carpenter bees, or termites, and they’ll look for signs of mice, rats, bats, or other animal droppings.
If your home inspector notes the air conditioner isn’t cooling to its full potential, enlist a licensed HVAC specialist to examine the unit's components. Dimming lights when you plug a cord into an outlet may signify electrical issues and warrant an electrician.
If you suspect there might be an issue down the road, particularly with electrical or plumbing, it could be worth hiring an expert inspection. If, for instance, that HVAC is on its last legs, you may be able to negotiate down the price of the home or get a repairs allowance.
Congratulations, you’re satisfied with your home inspections, and you’re finally closing on your home. Here are a few ways to monitor the air quality, check for leaks, and protect your new investment:
Use CO2 detectors to alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide.
Add flood detectors in basements, around appliances that use water, and near plumbing to locate leaks quickly.
Install smoke detectors throughout the home, and test them regularly.
Incorporate a FireFighter to detect the sounds of any compatible UL smoke detectors.
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