Congratulations on finding the home of your dreams! Now it's time to make sure there are no significant issues before you sign a binding sales contract. The best way to do that is to schedule a professional home engineering inspection.
It's also a valuable opportunity for you as the new homeowner to shadow the inspector while the inspection is being performed. You'll gain an understanding of the house's systems and how they work — a great education for a first-time homeowner.
Be prepared for anything to arise. Some issues that come up in an inspection are deal-breakers or are so severe that the seller must remedy them in order to sell the house. Others may be more easily addressed. Sometimes it comes down to a matter of “how much?” and “who pays?”
It's important for you to know that the inspector is obliged to note exactly what he sees. An inspection report can sound extremely alarming, as it will reflect everything that is older or damaged or deteriorating. Unless the home is brand-new or unless the seller has addressed everything before they list their home, a first-time home buyer can be totally upended by an inspection report.
Here are some of the hot-button findings that you should be aware of:
- Buried oil tanks: These are frequently found in the yards of older homes and merit careful attention as they present the possibility — but not the certainty — of soil contamination if they leak, and significant future costs if they need to be removed. However, a buyer or seller can carry out an oil tank test to determine if the tank is secure and get a cost estimate for removal so this potential issue should not be an insurmountable obstacle.
- The presence of asbestos: Asbestos in construction was banned in 1977 but up until then was commonplace. Asbestos is only considered dangerous if the fibers are inhaled, so the mere presence of sealed asbestos in an older home is less problematic than the potential cost of removing it according to state and environmental regulations. A seller could remove any such asbestos before they list the house, or a buyer can get a quote for the cost of removal and negotiate the cost with the seller. Either way, this issue can be managed and should not stop the buyer from moving forward with the purchase of the home.
- The presence of radon: Many new home buyers are very concerned about the presence of radon in the lower levels of a home. Radon gas is present in nearly all soils and very low levels of radon gas are found in the air we breathe every day, so a slightly elevated radon reading is no reason to walk away from the deal. In most cases there is a simple and relatively economical ventilation solution that can be quickly and effectively installed to take care of the problem.
Issues that come up at inspection have the potential to stop you in your tracks. However, if you are working with a highly experienced realtor, she will help you understand the issues and the questions to ask. You'll be able to discuss any concerns calmly and rationally with the appropriate construction professionals, these issues need not be deal-breakers.
To learn more about what to expect from your home inspection, talk to Fiona Dogan! Call 914-414-5147.