Recently a party inquiring about the home sales process seemed surprised when informed that nearly every buyer will want to conduct a home inspection. We explained that, unlike some other states, home inspections in Idaho are elective and conducted at the request and expense of the buyer. Other states require the inspection to be done by the seller and reported to the buyer.
Inspections come in many forms and range from the simple to the extremely comprehensive. If you are a borrower of a government backed loan, FHA, VA or USDA/RD the inspection may simply be carried out by the appraiser who will make sure the home is livable with no obvious defects like peeling paint or ineffective floor coverings. They will also look at roof coverings for leaks and sidewalks for tripping hazards, but they are generally less detailed than an independent home inspection.
Your home inspector will take a detailed look at the entire home searching for defects that may interfere with your enjoyment of the home. Usually the defects uncovered are small and easily repaired, but occasionally they will discover catastrophic deficiencies that would definitely be costly to repair or otherwise impact your enjoyment of your new home. You want to make sure before you hire an inspector just what they will look for.
If your inspector is afraid of heights and unwilling to get up and out onto the roof to inspect for potential leaks, you may want to consider another inspector. If they are too large or phobic to crawl under the house or into the attic, you probably should seek out someone without those challenges. Often we find that there is an improperly vented exhaust fan or undiscovered leaky drain that can only be seen by physically going in to such unpleasant places.
Even the best of inspectors though does not have X-ray vision, so will not be able to see inside the walls, although they will usually test the electrical circuits externally and at the breaker box. If someone who will be living in the house is sensitive with allergies, you may ask your inspector if they will do a test for mold. There are thousands of types of molds and most are not harmful to most people and many cannot be seen on the surface. Your inspector can collect air samples to be tested to ensure there are not substances there that will aggravate or cause an allergic reaction.
A major concern for many people in our area is the presence of radon gas. This gas is odorless, colorless and heavier than air so can be found in lower living areas of the home. Since the EPA informs us that radon is a major contributor to lung cancer, it is wise to have this inspection done. Your inspector will sample the air in the lower living area and have the results analyzed. If radon is present in excess of EPA guidelines it can be mitigated easily.
Some neighborhoods were constructed when clay pipes were used for sewer disposal. After many years, these pipes can collapse restricting the flow of sewage away from the house. Many companies have cameras that can inspect the wast lines of your proposed new home for a small fee.
Almost any defect that may be found can be remedied. A thorough inspection will let you know before completing the purchase what is needed to bring the home to trouble-free status. It’s worth the investment to know so that you and the seller can agree who should pay for what.
Trust an expert…call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.
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Kim Cooper is a real estate broker and the spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664.