Buying a home is probably the biggest investment you’ll make. You want to make sure there are no big surprise costs once you purchase one.
If you’re like many homebuyers, you rely on a home inspection to uncover any potential issues. Unfortunately, most standard home inspections often miss major problems.
Understanding what your home inspection covers is one of the most important steps to take if you want to avoid throwing your money away when buying a house.
Home inspectors might only observe your roof from the ground, especially if the roof is difficult to access or the home is several stories high.
If they don’t climb onto the roof, their evaluation of its condition is limited. Rooftops covered in snow might also prevent an inspector from fully realizing any major issues, such as leaks.
According to This Old House, the average roof repair costs $1,000 but can run up to $15,000 if the damage is severe. That is a lot of money to spend on a surprise expense.
Ask your home inspector how they perform roof inspections so you know how thoroughly they will assess its condition.
A standard home inspector will check HVAC equipment, but the inspection is limited. A home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system has many components, and a standard home inspection doesn’t check every one.
If you want each part of an HVAC checked, you’ll need to have a certified HVAC technician perform an inspection. These specialty inspections can check for carbon monoxide leaks, problems with blower fans, and more.
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Radon is an odorless gas that can leak into homes and become trapped. While some radon gas is normal, high amounts can cause problems such as lung cancer. But not all home inspections include radon testing.
If your home inspector doesn't offer radon testing, you might choose to pay the extra cost to have a test performed. If the home contains high levels of gas, professionals can install a radon removal system before you move in.
Many insect and rodent infestations are not visible in areas of the home. Pests often live inside the voids of walls, crawl spaces, and other hard-to-see and reach areas.
Unless there's evidence of droppings or nesting where your inspector checks, they could miss this big problem.
Some pests, like termites and mice, can destroy homes. Mice will chew on anything, including electrical wiring. They can also carry diseases that are dangerous to humans.
Other animals choose wall and ceiling spaces as their homes as well, including raccoons and bats.
Not all home inspectors have the qualifications to test for asbestos, and not all states require homeowners to inform sellers when it is present. If the inspector you're using doesn't check for asbestos, consider hiring one who does.
Asbestos can cause life-threatening diseases if people inhale the particles. This can happen during a remodel or from areas of the home deteriorating. If the home is found to contain asbestos, you and the seller will need to determine who will pay for the removal.
Lead paint poses significant health risks, especially to young children. Exposure to paint chips or particles can cause developmental delays and seizures in children under the age of 6. However, it's a dangerous substance for people of all ages.
Standard home inspections might not test for lead paint. Even if they do, lead paint could be hiding under new paint on walls. This doesn’t mean it is safe. The lead still poses a risk even when covered with a fresh coat of paint.
While home inspectors might find visible mold or conditions where mold might exist, they can easily miss mold in hard-to-see areas. Mold growing under cupboards or behind walls isn’t always obvious, especially when leaks were repaired without removing mold growth.
Mold can cause respiratory issues and skin irritation. If mold is present, you might want to find ways to ways to set some money aside since removing mold can be expensive. In some cases, whole-home remediation is necessary to remove all mold spores.
If you want the home you're buying to comply with building codes, you shouldn’t rely on your home inspector to make sure it does. Most home inspectors aren’t required to ensure homes are up to code.
A house that doesn’t meet code requirements can become very expensive, especially if you plan to rent it out. Problems can arise if you decide to put an addition on the home later as well.
Ask your home inspector if they check for code compliance before hiring them if this is important to you.
Sewer line issues
Issues with underground sewer lines are easily missed during standard home inspections. Most home inspectors check the plumbing, but properly working drains and faucets don’t always guarantee that there aren’t issues hiding in underground lines.
If you choose to have underground sewer lines checked, the inspector will likely use a snake with a camera. They can check for blockages, cracks, or other damage that might not cause issues until after you've bought the home.
A home inspector doesn’t typically check the grounds around your home. Problems with outdoor structures or elements might require a separate inspection.
Poor drainage is a fairly common problem. While wet spots might not seem like a huge problem, they can attract pests and make landscaping nearly impossible.
While less common, larger concerns like sinkholes can go unnoticed by home inspectors. They're more common in some areas of the country than in others. If a sinkhole does open, it can cause injury, property destruction, or even death.
If you're buying a home where sinkholes are more likely to occur, you might want to consider hiring a specialist.
Specialty inspections can check for things a standard home inspection might miss. You want to love your home without dumping all your money into repairs you didn’t know it needed.
But inspections are only one part of purchasing a home you want to live in. Shopping around for the best home insurance can help protect your new home and save you money.
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