If you’re buying a previously occupied home, it’s likely that your contract will include an inspection contingency. This provision allows buyers to hire inspectors or other qualified experts to evaluate the structural integrity, mechanical systems and overall safety of the home. The inspection(s) are typically paid for by the buyer, conducted within the first couple of weeks of escrow and the buyer’s offer to purchase will be conditioned their approval of the results. The cost to hire a home inspector in our area ranges from $300 – $500 and the inspection itself typically gives the buyer a thorough but general overview of the property condition. While many buyers consider their due diligence complete with just a home inspection, I would like to make the case for a few additional inspections:
Pest Inspection: When I say “pest” most people think of insects such as termites and carpenter ants. Although they’re relatively rare in our dry climate we do occasionally see them. Pest inspectors are also required to check for other wood destroying organisms including certain types of fungi, often referred to as “dry-rot”. For that reason, pest inspectors are trained to detect active or potential moisture conditions that may lead to problems such as dry-rot and/or mold conditions down the road. Approximate cost = $150
HVAC Inspection: This specialist is likely to be a contractor rather than an inspector and this sometimes creates a conflict of interest, they can inspect AND repair. That said, HVAC contractors are simply more qualified to evaluate the heating and air conditioning systems than the typical home inspector and should be included in virtually every home purchase. Approximate cost = $250
Radon Test: Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas known to cause cancer in humans. Testing for it is rarely included in a standard home inspection. In spite of the fact that radon has been detected in our area, this test is often overlooked or waived by buyers. Approximate cost = $200
Lead Based Paint Inspection or Test: Homes built prior to 1978 are likely to contain lead-based paint which is known to cause brain and nervous system damage if ingested or inhaled. For that reason, young children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. There are several types of tests and inspections available and all of them are relatively expensive at $300 – $500+. After attending dozens, I’ve never seen a pre-1978 house pass any of these tests/inspections in Northern Nevada. Perhaps related to our sunny climate, LBP seems to have been very prevalent back in the day. Other than keeping a good coat of paint on the house there’s not much one can do to fix this so I usually counsel people to look for newer homes if this is a big concern.
Sewer Line Inspection: In our area, homes built prior to the early 1970’s were mostly constructed with cast iron or Orangeburg sewer lines. If it can’t be proved that a sewer line of this age has been replaced in the past, insist on getting it inspected. This requires a plumber with a specialized camera which will leave nothing to the imagination. Approximate cost is $300 – $500 but money well spent as it’s a fraction of the cost of replacing the line yourself.
There are more: For example; fireplace, roof and don't forget the domestic well and septic if you're considering rural properties..
Lastly, I recommend to my buyers that they attend each inspection. Otherwise, they may not get all their questions and concerns addressed.