It’s important to protect your investment and the best way to do that is to get a complete home inspection by a licensed home inspector. You are NOT required to have a home inspection in Mass., but The Mortgage Buddy recommends that you do. The typical home inspection runs about two hours and costs right around $400, with multi-family properties costing a bit more.
Why get a home inspection? Home Inspections will check to see
- whether the home has safety issues, major defects & minor defects
- which items in the home need immediate replacement
- which items in the home will need repair or replacement soon
- inform the buyer of how the systems in the home operate
There are many different types of home inspections that can be done to focus on specific aspects of your potential new home. Usually home buyers start with a general home inspection, and if warranted by these results, choose to perform additional inspections such as radon, lead, roof, pest, well and water inspections. A general inspection should consist of the following
Outside the Home:
- Gutters: check for proper drainage so as to prevent leaks into windows & foundation
- Roof - check for roof damage, poor installation, life left on roof
- Trees & Plants: The inspector will advise on the health of surrounding trees & plants. You want to eliminate trees that can transport animals onto your roof & gutters and plants that can limit sunlight and cause mold and moisture damage to the roof & siding.
- Exterior Walls - check for damaged & missing siding, peeling paint, bulging shingles, signs of asbestos
- Foundation – check for visual clues like cracking or settling
- Grading – check for proper grading away from the house
- Garage - check for proper operation, venting and safety
- Decks – check for safety and solid construction
Inside the Home:
- Electrical: check to be sure it is safe, working properly, not overloaded, up to code, and present no fire hazards.
- Plumbing: check type of pipes, it is in working order, draining properly, with no leaks
- Paint: Homes built after 1978 cannot have lead paint. The inspector will let you know if there is a possibility that lead paint may be present
- Structural: The inspector will inform you about the over all structural integrity of the house.
- Heating, Ventilation & AC – estimate age, condition, functionality and maintenance tips
- Laundy Room – check ventilaltion & wiring to insure safety
- Doors & Windows: check for rotting sills, leaks, missing screens and overall condition. Some inspectors will do a thermal image test to see how air tight and efficient the windows and doors are
- Pest: Inspects and other animals can cause health issues and structural issues to the property. The inspector will look for termite and carpenter ant damage as well as any other possible critters, and recommend a separate pest inspection if any evidence is found
- Attic: The inspector will check your attic and roof condition from the inside. This is another place where thermal imaging may be used to test the home for heat efficiency.
Radon Inspection. Radon is a colorless & odorless radioactive gas that seeps into your home through the foundation. This gas can increase your risk for certain cancers and should be taken care of before you by the home. A radon test is an “add on” inspection item. In Mass., the home inspector does not perform this unless specifically asked. When you call to schedule your general inspection tell them if you would like a radon test done so they can bring the materials to your inspection. It will usually cost an extra $50-$100 and take 48 hours to get the results. Radon levels in excess of 4 pCi/L are considered cause for concern and you may want to ask the seller to install a radon “mitigation system”. This will help to vent & remove the radon from your home.
For more information about Radon
- Always attend the home inspection yourself. A good inspector will not only point out issues & concerns, but also give you feedback on how to operate & maintain the key systems in your home
- Keep in mind the limitations of a home inspection – it is a visual inspection meant to look for clues to potential problems – the inspector will not be able to see any hidden defects
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the inspector
- Review the report & address any issues immediately with your real estate agent before your inspection contingency expires
If issues arise, the inspection report is also a great tool to ask for repairs, a lower sales price or money from the seller for closing costs.
Your real estate agent can refer you to a licensed Massachusetts home inspector or you can get an inspection by an experienced licensed professional from the Massachusetts licensing division.