Frequently Asked Questions by G. Neil Scott, Connecticut Licensed Home Inspector #HO1.314.
Question: I’m buying a house or condo that is newly constructed, why do I need a home inspection?
Answer: There are many different people involved in the building and construction of any new home, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, general contractors, painters, roofers, HVAC technicians, etc. Sometimes mistakes are made during construction and/or items are not thoroughly completed as specified. For instance, during new construction home inspections, I have encountered problems with plumbing where the hot and cold water were reversed at sinks, in toilets (hot water only), showers that had only cold water (or no water) and bathtubs with only hot water which can be dangerous. There was one newly constructed house I inspected where the dining room electrical outlets had not been connected to the circuit breaker panel and there was no electricity in this room. This house had already had a “certificate of occupancy” from the town. I’ve also encountered inadequate drainage around the property and foundation causing water and moisture in the basement areas. These are only a few of the items that I’ve seen during my inspections of “new” construction.
Question: I’m buying a condominium, why should I have inspection since I’ve been told that the common charges cover the maintenance of the condo and the condo complex?
Answer: Your common charges do not cover all of your maintenance in your condo. Remember, you own the “inside of your condo.” Your home inspection will give you a better understanding of how things operate in your condo like the heating system, water heater, air conditioning system, appliances, and the approximate age of these systems which have limited life spans. Some of these items can be very expensive to replace and could break down shortly after your closing. It would be in your best interest to be able to budget for future repairs and replacements of mechanical systems and appliances. I find that many condos that I inspect, especially in the lower Fairfield area, have older systems that will need replacing soon. One of the biggest issues in condos is the windows, which most of the time are the condo owner’s responsibility to repair and/or replace them. The most common issues with the windows are the vacuum seals in thermal pane windows that have failed or are failing and need replacing. This can be a very expensive issue which should be addressed before closing. Many home sellers, their Realtors, and their attorneys insist on a licensed home inspector’s written opinion before considering any credits, repairs, or replacements.
Question: I’m buying a property that is being sold to me “as is” (i.e., bank owned, foreclosure sales, short sales, estate sales, absentee owner sales, or even a relative’s house). I have been told that the owner(s) will not make any concessions, repairs, or credits at all. Should I have an inspection?
Answer: ABSOLUTELY! Even though you may not be given any credits or concessions during this sale, you should know what will need repairing and/or replacing before you buy this property and how long you can wait to do it (some repairs or replacements will require immediate attention). A thorough home inspection by a competent, licensed, and insured home inspector who has experience with inspecting these types of properties will give you a better understanding of any structural problems (like roofing, siding, foundation,) as well as mechanical problems (like heating, cooling, electrical), and the operation of the appliances, etc. An undetected structural problem such as foundation settling, improper structural supports, clogged and/or blocked chimneys, and other problems like carbon monoxide build up around the heating system, and roofing problems can be dangerous for you and/or cost you thousands of dollars. I’ve also encountered a number of properties with pest and rodent problems which had caused damage, sometimes extensive and severe. MOST IMPORTANTLY -- APPRAISERS ARE LOOKING FOR SOME OF THESE ITEMS TOO. AN INSPECTION WOULD GIVE YOU A "HEADS UP" ON PROBLEMS THAT WOULD PREVENT BANKS FROM LENDING ON THESE PROPERTIES...SO DON'T SPEND THAT EXTRA MONEY UNTIL YOU'VE HAD YOUR INSPECTIONS.
Question: Home inspections seem to be very costly. I’m already spending a lot of money on my house. Do I really need to spend this extra money on a home inspection?
Answer: You should look at your house as an investment and you should look at a home inspection as research on your investment. Home inspections can uncover potential problems that may cost you thousands of dollars that you haven’t budgeted for. For some people, this can be a major setback to home ownership. If you’re already spending top dollar for your home, do you have several thousand dollars extra set aside for unexpected repairs and replacements. If you don’t, a home inspection is a very good way to protect your investment and also help you determine if you can really afford the house and it's problems.
Question: The house I’m buying has been totally renovated within the last couple of years. I’m told that everything is “new.” Why should I have a home inspection?
Answer: Not everything in a renovated home is always “new.” Most of the renovated properties are built onto and expanded over an old foundation or old frame of a house. There can also be wood destroying insects and/or previous water damage which can cause mold growth, or could be structurally deficient. Sometimes, the electrical and plumbing have only been partially updated to accommodate the “new” portions of the home. I have inspected many renovated homes and have still discovered costly issues and problems which have saved my clients time, aggravation, and money.
Question: Why should I test for radon in the air before purchasing a property?
Answer: Radon is a naturally occurring gas that you can't see, smell, or taste. It is produced by the decay of underground sources of uranium, which is a radioactive metallic agent found in rocks and soils. Radon gas easily moves through soils and foundations of homes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA (Radon)), radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. Radon removal systems should be installed in houses and condos to reduce the concentration of radon gas if it exceeds the EPA’s current action level of 4 pCi/L (written as picocuries per liter of air). For health purposes and also for resale purposes, wouldn’t you want to know about what the level of radon gas is in your home? For more information about radon gas, click the following link Radon Gas Information.