Home Inspections

The buyer may order several different types of home inspections depending on the customs of your area, the types of things they want to learn about, and the age of your property. The two most common home inspections are pest inspection and physical inspection.

Pest Inspection

Check for existing pest infestations, the potential for infestation of pests, and damage from previous infestations. The most common pests are termites, carpenter ants, and wood-destroying fungi. Rodents, woodpeckers, and other creatures that cause damage to property can also be included in the report. A pest report will also take into account areas of the home that have the potential for problems. If there is debris under the house that makes a good breeding ground for pests, it will be noted. This debris is often called cellulose debris. A pest inspector will also note if there is any earth to wood contact. If portions of the siding or structural posts are touching earthen terrain or if firewood is stacked against the house, wood destroying pests have easy access into the house.

Physical Inspection

Physical inspections are very common. A professional home inspector visits the property and looks it over to see that there are no obvious defects in the structure or systems. In most states, the home inspectors are licensed. Some states do not have licensing laws for home inspectors, but in these areas, an inspector may be a contractor or retired building department official. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is an organization of home inspectors who complete specialized education programs and subscribe to a code of ethics. If your state does not require licensing, an ASHI inspector may be your best choice. For further information, you can check their Web site www.ashi.com.

Most physical inspectors will give an overview of the property. If a buyer is concerned about the roof or the fireplace, they may ask for those inspections as well. The inspector may suggest certain inspections that are out of their area of expertise, such as an electrical or alarm system inspection.

There are times when the physical inspection will point to things that may need further investigation. If this is the case, additional inspections may be performed. These may include:

  • Roof

  • Engineering

  • Foundation

  • Chimney/fireplace/woodstove

  • Underground storage tank, such as one for fuel oil

  • Mold

  • Hazardous materials

  • Lead paint

  • Survey

  • Septic system

  • Well

  • Heating/cooling system

  • Verification of acreage of the land or square footage of the house

The buyer's approval of these inspections is one of the contingencies on the sale of your house. Depending on the number of inspections and average time frame for getting them completed in your area, removal of this contingency can take anywhere from a few weeks to thirty days or more. Sometimes, a buyer will remove the contingencies on the inspections subject to certain repairs being performed by the seller. In your contract there should have been a dollar limit placed on those potential repairs. As long as the requested repairs come within the dollar limit, you can complete the repairs, and the buyer can remove that contingency. If the repairs exceed the dollar limit, you have several choices.

  • You can complete the requested repairs, even though you will be spending more than expected.

  • You can ask the buyer to complete the balance of the repairs.

  • You can come to a mutually agreeable amount for each of you to complete.

If you ask the buyer to complete repairs that are over and above the dollar limit, he has the right to say no. If this happens, you may be placing your home back on the market.

Should you order inspections yourself?

If you are in a seller's market and expecting multiple offers, having the inspections done in advance will eliminate surprises and allow potential buyers to come in without that contingency. If you are not in a seller's market, most buyers expect to perform their own inspections and may not even accept the inspection you have done.

  1. Home
  2. Home Selling
  3. After You Accept an Offer
  4. Home Inspections
Visit other About.com sites: