A home inspection by an independent inspector is made to determine the condition of the major mechanical and structural systems of the property. It is a visual inspection to determine the property's present condition, based on age. Other inspections and tests may be requested or required by lenders, buyers and others (i.e. wood-eating insect infestation, environmental, radon, well water sampling, septic system.) Other inspections may be ordered at the time the home inspection is scheduled.
Home Inspections Are Not...
Home inspections are not a warranty or guarantee of future life expectancy of any or all of the components inspected. They should not be viewed as verbal or written statements either encouraging the buyer to complete the transaction or to withdraw from it.
Who Benefits From The Home Inspection? Everyone Can!
SELLERS. Inspections offer the seller protection from potential accusations of failure to disclose negative property conditions. Sellers may wish to have their own inspections performed early in ther listing process so they become aware of potential repairs. REALTORS® may include the availability of these reports in the listing information with the seller's permission.
BUYERS. Home inspections should increase the buyer's awareness of the property's condition prior to closing and provide support in their decision-making process. While this inspection may disclose maintenance items, the primary purpose is to disclose major defects in the home as referenced by the inspection clause in the purchase agreement.
REALTORS®. Inspections enhance a REALTOR'S® professionalism and may limit their liability against potential accusations of failure to disclose negative property conditions.
The REALTOR'S® Role In The Inspection Process
REALTORS® should inform prospective buyers about the value of a home inspection before the purchase agreement is written. MIBOR's Inspection Addendum form provides buyers and sellers with comprehensive information about the inspection process.
When writing the purchase agreement, your REALTOR® should allow five to ten working days during which a mutually convenient home inspection may be scheduled. Written reports should be delivered within seven days after the inspection.
MIBOR recommends that REALTORS® provide a list of at least three home inspection companies from which they may choose. Inspectors are generalists, inspecting and reporting on a variety of components. A competent inspector should have the ability to identify existing major problems in the areas covered in the inspection report.
The Seller's Role In The Inspection Process
Sellers should prepare for a home inspection by providing the following:
All utilities should be turned on and all pilot lights should be lit.
Access areas to the attic, crawl space and main electrical service panel should be cleared. If crawl access is not readily visible, sellers should leave a note indicating its location.
Make sure that all components listed with the home are in operational condition at the time of inspection.
Provide information regarding disarming a home alarm system, or leave it turned off on the day of inspection.
Provide instructions regarding pets that should not be let outside, and make special arrangements for pets that may be unfriendly to strangers.
If a radon test is to be performed, keep the house closed up for 12 hours prior to the inspection except for normal exit and entry.
Heating and cooling systems should be operating at normal living temperatures on the day of the inspection.
The Inspector's Role In The Inspection Process
The inspector will look at the following structural and mechanical components:
Basement and/or Crawl Space - Identify water penetration and/or damage; structural condition of walls; support system for the floor; condition of basement windows, floors, walls and ceilings; wood-destroying insect damage.
Slab Foundation - Search for water penetration into heating/cooling ducts under the slab, as well as for settling and cracks.
Heating System - Determine performance and condition of heating systems and visible supply ducts; solid fuel heating devices (fireplaces, stoves); chimney exteriors; clearance to combustible materials and other sources of heat to habitable rooms.
Central Cooling System - Determine performance and condition of air conditioners and heat pumps, temperature permitting.
Electrical System - Determine if the amp rating for the existing system is compatible with the mechanical systems. Determine if the wiring was compatible with the fuses/breakers at the time the property was built and with the present condition of the system, including inside and outside wiring, panel box, accessible receptacles/outlets and switches, visible means of grounding and light fixtures.
Plumbing - Identify and evaluate the condition of the visible water lines, waste pipes, vent pipes, fixtures, drainage, sump pump, water pressure, water heater and gas pipes.
Interior - Determine the condition of the walls, ceilings, floors, stairs, railings and windows, cabinets and counters and fire wall separation to the attached garage. Cosmetic items such as paint, stain and interior wall and floor coverings usually are not included unless related to another condition in the home inspection report.
Attic - Evaluate the structure, roof decking, ventilation and insulation; identify water penetration.
Exterior - Weather permitting, determine the condition of the exterior finish, decks, porches, patios, railings, walks, roof, soffits, facia, gutters and garage door openers, including auto reverse features. Evaluate property grading and drainage. Buildings without foundations are usually not included in a home inspection.
Appliances - Normally, built-in appliances are inspected; free-standing appliances are not.
Cost For The Home Inspection
The cost for an average, single-family home inspection will vary depending upon the size and complexity of the house. An average home inspection normally takes two to two and one-half hours. The time and cost may inclrease if the house is extremely large, has more than one heating and/or cooling system, etc. Most home inspection companies will provide a firm cost quotation before the inspections. The person requesting the inspection is usually responsible for paying the inspection and test fees at the time they are performed.
Other Types Of Inspections And Tests
The following inspections and tests also may be performed at additional cost at the clients' option. Some tests or inspections may be required by lenders.
Wood -Destroying Insect Infestation Information - Must be performed by licensed, certified companies. May be required by the lender. Most home inspection companies can provide this service.
Radon Test - Radon test prices range from about $30 for do-it-yourself tests up to $225 for certified tests performed by licensed inspectors. Radon test devices are classified as active or passive. Active monitors are electronic instruments which provide a means of recording hourly readings throughout the entire test period. Results are usually available on-site at the conclusion of the test. Passive test devices, while lower in cost, provide an average radon level for the period exposed and are more susceptible to tampering. These devices are usually returned to a laboratory for analysis. Most home inspection companies can provide this service. Both types of devices are placed in the lowest potential living area of the house for 2 to 7 days. Other types of tests can be used to determine lon-term average exposures. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set 4.0 pCi/1 as the level at which reduction measures should be taken.
Private Water Supply - Bacteriological examination of a water sample; the source and equipment are visually inspected. May be required by lenders. Most home inspection companies can provide this service. Time - one week. Other, more extensive tests are available.
Septic System Inspection - Visual inspection only. May be required by lenders. Most home inspection companies can provide this service.
Professional Organizations Related To Home Inspections, Other Types Of Inspections And Tests
American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
Many home inspectors are members of ASHI, a non-profit professional society that has developed a code of ethics for member, specifies minimum requirements for member-performed inspections and requires stringent testing for ASHI members Members are required to obtain 40 credit hours of continuing education in the home inspection field every two years to maintain their memberships.
American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST)
The State of Indiana requires that all testers be proficiency listed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in order to be licensed by the State. In addition, many radon testers are members of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). This organization, like ASHI, is a non-profit professional group that has a strict code of ethics and specific protocols for real estate testing. To obtain a list of State licensed testers (or mitigators), contact the Indiana State Board of Health, (317) 633-0150.
Pest Control Association
The State of Indiana requires all wood-destroying insect inspectors to be tested and licensed through the State Chemist's Office at Purdue University. Most home inspectors are also licensed to perform these inspections. Many of the companies are also members of the Indiana Pest Control Association.
Home Inspections Vs. Appraisals - The Big Difference
The Difference Between a Home Inspection and the Appraisal Performed as Part of the Mortgage Process
Home inspections are not appraisals. Many times clients confuse an inspection with an appraisal and vice versa. The appraiser is employed as an unbiased real estate professional who measures value by providing a supportable and defensible report of his/her opinion of the fair market value of the property. The home inspector inspects the physical condition without putting a dollar value on the home.
Licensure of Home Inspectors Becomes Law
May 12, 2003
After introducing legislation in three different legislative sessions, the licensing of home inspectors will finally become law.
The new law also creates an IAR supported enforcement fund. On Wednesday of this week, Governor Frank O'Bannon signed House Bill 1515 into law. HB1515 establishes basic license requirements, including testing, pre-license education and continuing education for individuals performing home inspections in Indiana. IAR was successful in removing some excessive experience requirements earlier in the process.
Included in House Bill 1515 is language initially introduced in Senate Bill 433 establishing a dedicated fund used by Indiana's Attorney General and the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency to investigate appraisal and real estate fraud, as well as enforcement of other provisions of the license law.