Home Inspection Education Partnership Counts Toward College Credit

Items Home Inspectors Can’t Evaluate

When a home inspector examines the property your buyer is under contract to purchase, you should know that there are some items the inspector legally can’t determine about its condition. Inspectors are bound by a set of rules that limit what they can share with a buyer

Termites, rats, or mold. Most inspectors aren’t licensed to determine whether these types of infestations exist. Instead, they may note evidence such as sagging floors (which could imply a termite problem), shredded insulation (an indication of rats), or black discoloration on the walls (which could mean fungal growth). If an inspector notices these items, your client should follow up with a specialist who can better evaluate the issues.

Hidden flaws. Inspectors check for what they can physically see without having to move anything. Therefore, they may not be able to say whether the foundation is cracked behind the wood paneling or an electrical plug behind a sofa isn’t working. Inspectors should note if they are unable to evaluate a critical component of the home. In some situations, the seller could be asked to move an item in order to give the inspector a better view.

Evaluations of pools or septic systems. Specialists may be required to come in to take a closer look at certain aspects of the home. Inspectors are not certified to inspect everything. “We’re general practitioners,”

Unnecessary repairs. Inspectors may take note of every little flaw in a home, from chipped paint to window scratches. That could leave your buyer with an overwhelming list of defects. “Some inspectors like to show they know more than somebody else,”

Ask the Experts: Taking Care of Your Home Inspection While Following Proper Guidelines for COVID-19

Q: This is certainly the most unusual of times. How is Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®\ handling customers and business in the wake of COVID-19?

A: This is something none of us has ever experienced, although there have been other disasters and trying times for our industry. Like every other business is likely to say, the health and safety of our customers is our highest priority. As such, we are diligently monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO)

Q: How do you minimize contact and keep the proper distance while conducting home inspections?

A: Fortunately, we have years and years of experience building solid relationships

Q: Why should people continue with home inspections or other semi-essential services?

A: We feel that people are going through enough, as are our home inspectors. They are all small business owners who would like to get on with a task that will bring everyone a step closer to getting back to a normal life. While following all safety guidelines, our home inspection is just one more large task that people can move forward with. At a time when many items and services have to be put on hold, it’s great to keep up with those that can be managed. This causes less stress and allows people to feel less “behind” on life.

Q: Where do you see the other side of this crisis?

A: Hopefully, we will all have learned a lot about personal distance, safety, helping others in a time of need and putting proper protocols in place for an unlikely event such as this.

Managing Home Inspection Fears During the Pandemic

As real estate professionals learn to complete transactions virtually and in other ways that take social distancing guidelines into account, a trouble spot may be the home inspection. Already, sellers are retreating from the market, fearful of letting people into their homes and potentially coming in contact with the coronavirus. So, the home inspection—which requires an inspector’s physical presence at a property—may be a tough negotiation point. “The biggest fear people have is of the unknown—not knowing the inspector, not knowing the people coming into their house—and what inspectors do already is pretty intrusive,”

First, many inspectors advise that no more than two other people besides the inspector should be present at a home during an inspection. And you don’t have to be one of them. “Don’t attend the inspection unless you absolutely have to—and there’s no reason why you should if your clients are already going,”

But if you absolutely must be present, wear masks and gloves, maintain the recommended six feet of distance from others, and use a laptop with a Bluetooth mouse to direct others through a digital copy of the inspection report plus photos and videos

You also may ask a home inspector to video call you and your client to review items in real time while the inspector is at the property so no one has to meet face-to-face “That way, the inspector can still take us over to the wobbly railing and show us exactly where it is, or show us how the window is loose and doesn’t stay open. So, it’s kind of like being there,”

It’s also incumbent on those who visit a home in person for an inspection to keep sanitation in mind. “When I walk into somebody else’s house, I used to like to leave it as I found it. Now I’m doing my best to leave it better than I found it,”

Can buy and sell a house in person again

In-person home showings, appraisals, inspections, and other real estate activity can resume throughout under certain COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to an executive order

Before the order reopened real estate, was the only state that deemed real estate activity “nonessential” and barred in-person real estate transactions for a majority of its residents. The ban was part of the business shutdown meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The commonwealth permitted in-person real estate activity only in counties in the yellow phase of reopening.

All real estate-related businesses, including title companies, notaries, and mortgage loan officers, must follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conduct business remotely when possible, according to the executive order.

In-person activities such as showings and final walk-throughs must be scheduled by appointment and be limited to one real estate professional and two others inside a property at one time. Real estate agents and clients must travel separately. For in-person showings, appointments should be 30 minutes apart or more, agents should minimize the time spent inside the property, and everyone should avoid touching common surfaces such as doorknobs and light switches. Group showings remain banned

real estate activity in his business closures roughly two months ago, real estate agents have been relying on virtual tours and open houses to sell properties. But the ban on in-person showings and other interactions has depressed home sales. Some potential sellers and buyers have been stuck in financially perilous situations in which they couldn’t move forward with transactions.

Real estate business is ‘essential,’ but showings must be virtual

The guidance from ESD still encourages real estate agents to “maintain social distance to the extent possible,” but notes that showings (for both residential and commercial properties), inspections, and appraisals may resume.

What this doesn’t mean is that traditional viewings—open houses, or even having an agent bring a client into a home for a one-on-one appointment—should continue, as was previously reported.

“Being an ‘essential’ industry does not mean business as usual — business can only be conducted if social distancing and other public health protocols are followed and all must be doing everything they can to help stop the spread,” a spokesperson for ESD said in a statement. “For real estate, that means brokers can only transact business in their offices or show properties virtually, and anything else is off limits.”

Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.

The following functions of real estate and/or realtors (sic) are considered essential: residential home and commercial office showings; home inspections; and residential appraisers.

Negotiating Tips For Home Inspection

What to expect from a home inspection

Home inspection basics

You’ve chosen a home, made the offer and now comes the inspection — a vital step in buying a home, particularly for first-time home buyers. 

How do I choose a home inspector?

Many buyers hire the first inspector they find. But don’t settle for less. Carefully research every home inspector and consider several factors:

Qualifications, certifications and training

Knowledge of building codes

Number of years inspecting homes

Referrals and references

Related work experience

Where can I find a home inspector?

Get referrals from family, friends and your real estate agent. Trusted sources act in your best interest. If you want extra assurance, ask the inspector if he or she belongs to an industry organization

I have a home inspector. Now what?

Your tasks don’t end once you choose a home inspector. You should also:

Attend the inspection

Carefully review the inspection report

The day of your home inspection

Before the inspector begins the review, carefully look over the home to identify defects and damage. Take pictures of anything that needs repair.

Things You Need to Know About Home Inspections

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying or selling a property, you’ll likely have to deal with a home inspection. A home inspection is an important part of a real estate transaction. It involves an experienced inspector checking the property’s appliances, electrical system, plumbing, heat and air system, roof, and foundation for minor and major issues.

Home inspections are optional

Unlike a home appraisal, which is mandatory by the lender, home inspections are not required. They are, however, recommended by lenders and real estate agents. If you’re buying a property and decide to proceed with an inspection, you are responsible for paying the cost. A property can look pristine on the outside, but have major flaws on the inside. An experienced, competent home inspector will be able to uncover many problems. These inspections are noninvasive, so don’t expect your inspector to open up the walls. But even with a non-invasive inspection, he’ll get a clear idea of the home’s condition and bring potential issues to your attention.

Be present for your home inspection

As a buyer, you don’t have to be present for the home appraisal, but you should be present for the home inspection. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you get your money’s worth. On average, home inspections can costs between $250 and $500. The inspection should spend a fair amount of time checking the outside and inside of the property. These inspections take roughly two to three hours depending on the size of the property. You should shadow the inspector so he can explain his findings to you. Also, don’t be shy about asking questions. For example, if you notice a crack in the wall, you can clarify whether the crack is a result of a foundation problem or the property settling over time.

Get a home inspection before listing your house

If you’re a seller, there’s also the option of having a home inspection before listing your property for sale. A house that looks to be in excellent condition and be anything but perfect. If you get a home inspection before listing the property, you can eliminate surprises down the road. A pre-inspection can provide a rundown of problems with the house, and you can take your time making the needed repairs. Once the repairs are completed, you can list your property with confidence.

Negotiating home repairs

There is no such thing as a perfect house. So regardless of whether the house is newer or older, the home inspection report will likely reveal at least one issue. As the buyer, you can ask the seller to repair all or most of these issues. If the seller isn’t prepared financially to cover the cost, you can ask for a credit or a price reduction. The seller can reduce the sale price of the property, or give a credit at closing for repairs.

Check Out Your New Home: The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

There’s a lot to remember when you’re buying your first home. To ease your concerns, it’s crucial to make sure that the home you’re buying is in good condition before you close. That way there won’t be any nasty surprises after you move in.

Should First Time Homebuyers Hire a Home Inspector?

Home inspection requirements vary by state. Your mortgage lender may not require a home inspection report to approve your mortgage, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one.

A good home inspector’s job is to go through your home and identify any potential problems. These problems could include obvious issues like termite damage, or they could be red flags that point in the direction of costly repairs down the line.

Whichever route you choose for finding an inspector, you should follow these steps:

Check home inspector licensing requirements for your state

Make sure that your inspector is comfortable having you present during the inspection

Verify a good working credit by reading online reviews before you hire anyone

Ask to see a sample inspection report

Ask what is covered in the report and what isn’t

The Home Inspection Checklist

Your work doesn’t end with hiring a home inspector. You should still be involved in this process. It’s your home we’re talking about. So, what do you need to do during and after your home inspection to protect yourself and your new home? Checklists can be an especially useful tool here.

Important Home Inspection Tips and a Checklist

Whether it’s a two-storey in the suburbs, a condo downtown, or a fixer-upper with potential, a home is much more than just a place to sleep. So it’s not hard to imagine why, when inspection time rolls around

Use a checklist

To ensure you’re hitting every corner of your potential new home, print out a checklist of common household inspection items. This should include all areas of the house, including bathrooms, bedrooms, garages and electrical elements.

Inside

Kitchen:

Check countertops, sinks, cupboard doors for damage

Ensure range hood exhaust fan works properly

Check pipes under sink for leaks

Check sink water flow

Floors, Walls, Ceilings:

Check for cracks, damage, water spots

Walk across all floors – ensure minimum unevenness, squeaking

Bathrooms:

Check faucet water flow & pressure

Ensure sink, shower, tub drains properly, toilet functions properly

Check for cracked/loose tiles

Ensure cabinets and plumbing under sink in good condition

Windows, Doors:

Ensure windows and doors open/close properly

Check for cracked/broken glass or damaged screens in windows

Inspect weather-stripping for damage

Basement:

Check for large cracks/stains in exposed foundation

Check for water leaks on ceiling/floor

No decay/damage in structural wood

Attic:

Check for structural and water damage

Ensure proper insulation and ventilation

How to Prepare For a Home Inspection

Home Inspection Preparation

How to prepare for a home inspection is a thought that more sellers should consider. Unfortunately many do not. One of the things that are quite common in the majority of all Real Estate transactions is a home inspection that is paid for by the buyer and performed by a licensed professional home inspector.

When selling Real Estate, a home inspection is typically done within the first couple of weeks after an offer has been submitted by the buyer and accepted by the seller. The Real Estate lingo used is called a “home inspection contingency.”

This contingency is spelled out in the agreed upon Real Estate contract. The traditional language in most purchase and sale agreements gives the buyer an out to terminate the contract if a severe structural or mechanical defects are found during the home inspection.

In some contracts, there will be a specified dollar amount that gives the buyer the option of revoking the contract if issues are discovered more than this agreed-upon figure. In a Real Estate transaction, the home inspection is one of the biggest hurdles a home seller faces to have a successful sale.

It stands to reason that you will want to make an effort to have your home in the best possible condition before the home inspection takes place. I can tell you from the experience of being a Realtor for the past thirty-two years; the home inspection is where most home sales fall apart.

Why Is Water Testing So Important

Water Quality

The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. If you are among the 286 million Americans that get their water from a community water system , your tap water is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Drinking water varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn and the treatment it receives, but it must meet EPA regulations.

Even though our tap water supplies are considered to be one of the safest in the world, water contamination can still occur. There are many sources of contamination, including:

  • Sewage releases
  • Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium)
  • Local land use practices (for example, fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated feeding operations)
  • Manufacturing processes (for example, heavy metals, cyanide)
  • Malfunctioning on-site wastewater treatment systems (for example, septic systems)

In addition, drinking water that is not properly treated or which travels through an improperly maintained distribution system (for example, the piping system) may also create an environment for contamination.

The presence of certain contaminants in our water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons may be especially susceptible to illness.

How is water regulated?

It’s regulated by different agencies, with different missions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees the quality of water that comes out of your tap, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring the safety and truthful labeling of bottled water sold nationally. States are responsible for regulating water that is both packaged and sold within its borders (which is most of the bottled-water market), but one in five states doesn’t even bother.

It’s important to note that the federal government does not require bottled water to be safer than tap. In fact, just the opposite is true in many cases. Tap water in most big cities must be disinfected, filtered to remove pathogens, and tested for cryptosporidium and giardia viruses. Bottled water does not have to be.

Both kinds of water are tested regularly for bacteria and most synthetic organic chemicals, but city tap is typically assessed much more frequently. For example, bottled-water plants must test for coliform bacteria just once a week; city tap needs to be tested 100 or more times a month.

Limits on chemical pollution for both categories are almost identical. The one place where bottled water might have the edge is in the case of lead; because many older homes have lead pipes, the EPA standard for tap water is less strict—one-third of the FDA’s standard for lead in bottled water.

What should I do before I take a water sample?

Before you take a sample, call the laboratories listed in Table 2 to obtain sampling bottles and information on the correct sampling procedure. Please note that your sample will not provide you with accurate information unless the:

  • correct sample bottles are used
  • correct volume is taken
  • sample is stored at the required temperature
  • sample is transported to and arrives at the laboratory in the correct time
  • correct procedure is used to take the sample.

Water Quality: Is Tap Water Safe?

You need to stay hydrated — that’s clear — but is the tap water in your home safe? It is considered generally safe if it comes from a public water system in the United States, such as one run and maintained by a municipality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to monitor all public water systems and sets enforceable health standards regarding the contaminants in drinking water.

When drinking water leaves a treatment plant on its way to your house, it must meet strict safety standards. That doesn’t mean that your water is free of all contaminants, but that the levels of any contaminants don’t pose any serious health risk.

Of course, accidents can happen. If the water supply becomes contaminated by something that can cause immediate illness, the supplier must promptly inform you. Suppliers also need to offer alternative suggestions for safe drinking water. In addition, they have 24 hours to inform customers of any violation of standards that could have major impact on health following a short-term exposure.

Check With Your Water Company

You know that bill you pay every month, or every quarter, for your drinking water? It’s the first stepping-stone on your search. Every year, your water agency is required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to supply you with a Consumer Confidence Report, which is an annual water quality report that details any and all contaminants that may be present in your water and alerts you to the health risks they pose.

Every water agency has to provide this report to its customers by July 1 each year. Typically, it comes with your bill, or if you pay online, you should get an alert to a downloadable PDF. You can also go directly to your water utility’s website; the latest report should be posted there. (You may have to do some digging.) If you don’t know the name of your water agency, you can use the EPA’s clickable map to find it, but you’ll have to wade through a cumbersome alphabetical list of agencies. More detailed information on how to get your CCR is available from the EPA.