Home Inspection Process

Home inspection is an opportunity for the buyer to evaluate the physical condition of the home and to get familiar with specifics of the home.

The home inspection is ordered and paid for by the buyer. At conclusion of the inspection, the home inspector will provide a written general report about the condition of the home on the day of inspection. A general home inspector will look for safety issues, pertinent and costly improvements necessary in the near future and general maintenance nuances. In certain cases, more specific home inspections are recommended, which are detailed below.

A buyer will typically be present for the length of inspection. The inspector will point out issues and suggest a recommended course of action, as well as highlight the positives of the home. The inspector will also educate on necessary maintenance (like changing furnace filers) of the home.

In Ohio, there are several home inspections that are part of the standard real estate purchase contract. Any inspection, however can be added: a seawall inspection for a lake home, sediment and coastal erosion for Lake Erie homes, a mold inspection or even an electromagnetic or radio frequency radiation (EMF) inspection. A buyer has a right to schedule any additional inspections of their choice in the agreed upon time.

There are several different types of home inspections, see the breakdown below:

General Home Inspection

Average Cost: $320 – $400

It is important to remember that a general home inspector is a jack of all trades but a master of none.

A general home inspector knows a little bit about everything and enough to know that something is not right, therefore he/she can recommend inviting a professional for further investigation.

General home inspectors will look at all components of the home, inside and outside.

  • Outside of the home.
    The inspection will start with the yard. The inspector will see if it is slanted or moving, if the water is pooling somewhere, if there are issues with retaining walls, etc. This portion of the inspection also includes garage, siding, soffits, gutters, roof, driveway, sidewalks, porches, decks, correct rainwater drainage and even flower beds.
  • Roof from inside.
    The attic will be inspected with regard to structure, moisture, ventilation, insulation etc.
  • Electrical systems.
    Electrical systems will be checked for age, condition, safety issues, and grounding. Also covered: presence or absence of GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers and outlets, wiring, grounded outlets, and conformity with code.
  • Major appliances.
    All appliances will be tested to be functioning if any are staying per contract.
  • Heating and Cooling systems.
    Functionality, condition, safety and maintenance concerns or recommendation will be discussed. Cost of replacement and recommended maintenance will also be covered. The buyer does assume liability and sellers word for the condition of heating and cooling if those cannot be tested per weather.
  • Water Heather.
    The water heater will undergo inspection for proper plumbing, installation, functionality, and cost of replacement.
  • Walls, Ceilings, and Floors.
    A visual inspection looking for defects, cracks or safety issues like trip hazards.
  • Windows and Doors.
    Every window will be opened and closed to make sure it is operational and is functioning. Age of windows and doors will be discussed, need for replacement, and possible signs of deterioration.
  • Kitchen and Bathrooms.
    Inspector is not looking for aesthetic appeal, instead, he looks for safety issues. Items covered include proper plumbing, presence of moisture, possible leaks, proper access for maintenance, and condition with regard to safety and functionality.
  • Basement or Crawl Space.
    Inspector will look for foundation issues, structural components, and signs of moisture.
  • A visual inspection of plumbing fixtures will be done.
    Inspector will turn on faucets, run the shower, and flush the commodes, while looking for water drips, leaks, water collection where it should not be collecting; ease of water going outside of the home, and water pressure.

Should inspector see an issue with a furnace, roof or any other major component, the inspector will recommend inviting a professional for a more detailed look.

Radon Inspection

Average Cost: $120 – $150

What is Radon Gas and how the radon gas test works?

  • Radon gas is caused by radioactive decay (breakdown) of materials in earth’s core that contain uranium. It is an odorless, tasteless, colorless radioactive gas, and the only way to know it is present inside a home is to test for it.
  • Radon is classified as a Class A carcinogen and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. According to EPA, Ohio is classified as Zone 1 with highest risk; EPA estimates 1 in 15 Ohio homes has radon levels over the safety limits.
  • Radon levels fluctuate daily and seasonally, so the test for radon is a 2-3 day monitoring process. The monitor is placed in a basement or a room above crawl space. All doors and widows must remain closed. After the 2-3 days the technician is able to retrieve fluctuating (hourly or so) readings of radon. The goal is to have a reading of 2 pCi/L or below. Readings of above 4 pCi/L are considered above safety and a radon mitigation system is recommended.
  • We recommend Continuous Radon Monitor vs. the canister method when testing for radon gas.
  • A radon mitigation system is fairly easy to install and costs around $1,000 professionally installed. If a home is large, two radon mitigation systems are recommended. In simplified terms, a six inch hole is drilled in the basement floor to access gravel. A large PVC pipe is installed, connecting the gravel to the outside of the home, and transferring air to above the roof line. A small motor that runs continuously is installed, pulling out air from the gravel and transmitting it outside away from the house. Radon levels are re-tested for efficacy of the system.

Septic System Inspection

Average Cost: $600

For private sewer homes, it is very important to get the septic system inspected. Septic replacement is very costly, often running into the tens of thousands of dollars. Septic system is a visual inspection, looking first and foremost at the type of system, how and what it is made of and its functionality as well as capacity. Inspections cover the required maintenance, necessary repairs or possible need for replacement. Sometimes the professionals do a fluorescent dye test and sometimes a full open pit test.

Water Potability Inspection

Average Cost: $160 (for a more comprehensive test)

A test for presence of harmful bacteria in a private well water source. The lab tests for E Coli, coliform bacteria and others. A more comprehensive test will look for things like the presence of radon in water, pH levels, some chemicals, minerals and metals.

Well Flow Rate Inspection

Average Cost: $100

This inspection covers well flow rate, water pressure and water output. A well can only produce so much water, and it is an important factor for a buyer of a home with private water source. Two residents may need much less water than a family of five.

During the test, all of the water is pumped out of the well and the water is studied as it is refilled.

Mold Inspection

Average Cost: $300+

Mold inspection is a separate inspection, specifically looking for mold, or testing a mold sample. Some inspections are visual and observatory, some involve collection of a home’s dust sample, and there is also 24 hour air sampling. Cost of mold inspection varies substantially depending on what type of test is performed. If a buyer is moving forward with a mold inspection, we recommend a third-party mold testing company or a building biologist that performs these types of inspections; NOT a company that also offers mitigation services.

Pest / Wood Destroying Insects Inspection

Average Cost: $125

A separate inspection that looks specifically for wood-destroying pests and insects like termites, carpenter bees or carpenter ants; powder post beetles, and others. Most of the time, the general home inspector will point out signs of presence of these pests and will recommend a professional inspection, so a stand-alone inspection is not always necessary. With a VA loan, however, it IS a requirement and cannot be paid for by the buyer so the seller must order this inspection.

Lead Based Paint Inspection

Average Cost: Cost varies based on number of surfaces. For inside and outside of home, starts at $500.

There are many variations of lead based paint inspections. The inspection is performed by a certified professional. The inspection can be a surface-by-surface investigation of possibility of lead-based paint presence on a particular surface inside or outside of the home.

It is reasonable to assume that any home built and painted prior to 1978 has potential of having lead based paint. It is very dangerous if flakes/peeling paint is swallowed or inhaled in the form of lead dust, particularly to young children. A less costly but reliable way to test for lead based paint are the 3M Lead Test Swabs sold at most home repair stores. These will confirm presence of lead based paint. These swabs will not confirm presence of lead-based paint in all instances, including when lead based paint is covered by multiple layers of other paint.

Results of home inspections are not a ‘to-do’ list for the seller, but rather a formal report for a buyer to understand what they are buying. Inspections uncover issues, concerns and recommendations regarding the home buyer is purchasing.

Once the buyer reviews the results, there are generally three options:

  • Continue purchase as-is.
    The buyer learned about the physical condition of the home, the buyer accepts the condition and chooses to move forward with the purchase.
  • Request repair or maintenance.
    The buyer may request the seller repairs, replaces or fixes issues found during inspection. This happens often with FHA/VA loans; the home must be in a certain condition for the transaction to move forward.
  • Propose price reduction.
    If the inspector finds significant issues with the property, the buyer can request a price reduction to compensate for said defects.

    • The seller can accept, decline or re-negotiate with the buyer at this point. The buyer has a right to walk away from the home based on issues found during an inspection as well.

Once an agreement is reached and both parties continue with the contract, a contingency form is signed, releasing all inspection contingencies.

Few More Notes

  • A inspector is a human, and sometimes makes human mistakes. It does not happen often, but sometimes things are missed. Choose a general inspector who is backed by InterNACHI Honor Guarantee.
  • It is OK to work with a general inspector recommended by your real estate agent. We hold no stake in inspections. The inspector is hired by you, the buyer, and that inspector works for you with obligations only to you.
  • There are no deals made behind the scenes. We recommend inspectors we have seen work diligently, thoroughly and honestly. On several occasions, a buyer chose to work with a friend of a friend and those buyers are sometimes severely disappointed. Choose wisely, but know, we welcome any professional you choose to work with!
  • We recommend your professional is a member of a professional organization like ASHI or InterNACHI.

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