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Do I Need a Home Inspection?

Author: Team Johnson/Thursday, February 25, 2016/Categories: Home Buyers, St Augustine Homes for Sale

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Do I Need a Home Inspection?

When buying a home some people will chose to forgo the cost of a home inspection, especially if they are buying a newer home that appears to be in good condition.  This is not a good idea.  Before you purchase a home you should have it professionally inspected by a licensed inspector.  This blog will explain some of the reasons why this is not an area to cut back and save money when buying a home.

What to Expect at a Home Inspection

A good inspector will examine certain components of the house and will produce a report explaining and documenting his/her findings.  A typical inspection will last approximately 2 hours and the buyers and the buyer’s agent should be present, as this will be their opportunity for detailed explanation and to ask questions.  Most inspectors will also point out routine maintenance issues that will help the buyers long after the purchase.  The inspector will note the following:

•    whether each problem is a safety issue, major defect, or minor defect
•    which items need replacement and which should be repaired or serviced
•    items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely

What the Inspector Will Note During a Home Inspection?

It is impossible to list everything an inspector could possibly check for; however, the following list will give you a general idea of what to expect.

          •    Exterior walls - The inspector will check for damaged or missing siding, cracks and whether the soil is in excessively close contact with the bottom of the house, which can invite wood-destroying insects. However, the pest inspector, not the home inspector, will check for actual damage from these insects. The inspector will let you know which problems are cosmetic and which could be more serious.
          •    Foundation - If the foundation is not visible, and it usually is not, the inspector will not be able to examine it directly, but they can check for secondary evidence of foundation issues, like cracks or settling.
         •    Grading - The inspector will let you know whether the grading slopes away from the house as it should. If it doesn't, water could get into the house and cause damage, and you will need to either change the slope of the yard or install a drainage system.
        •    Garage or carport - The inspector will test the garage door for proper opening and closing, check the garage framing if it is visible and determine if the garage is properly ventilated (to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning). If the water heater is in the garage, the inspector will make sure it is installed high enough off the ground to minimize the risk of explosion from gasoline fumes mingling with the heater's flame.
       •    Roof - The inspector will check for areas where roof damage or poor installation could allow water to enter the home, such as loose, missing or improperly secured shingles and cracked or damaged mastic around vents. He or she will also check the condition of the gutters.

         •    Plumbing - The home inspector will check all faucets and showers, look for visible leaks, such as under sinks and test the water pressure. He or she will also identify the kind of pipes the house has, if any pipes are visible. The inspector may recommend a secondary inspection if the pipes are old to determine if or when they might need to be replaced and how much the work would cost. The inspector will also identify the location of the home's main water shutoff valve.
        •    Electrical - The inspector will identify the kind of wiring the home has, test all the outlets and make sure there are functional ground fault circuit interrupters (which can protect you from electrocution, electric shock and electrical burns) installed in areas like the bathrooms, kitchen, garage and outdoors. They will also check your electrical panel for any safety issues and check your electrical outlets to make sure they do not present a fire hazard.
         •    Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) - The inspector will look at your HVAC system to estimate the age of the furnace and air conditioner, determine if they function properly and recommend repairs or maintenance. An inspector can also give you an idea of the age of the home's ducting, whether it might have leaks, if your home has sufficient insulation to minimize your energy bills and whether there is any asbestos insulation.
         •    Water heater - The home inspector will identify the age of the heater and determine if it is properly installed and secured. The inspector will also let you know what kind of condition it is in and give you a general idea of how many years it has left.
         •    Kitchen appliances – The inspector will sometimes check kitchen appliances that come with the home to make sure they work, but these are not always part of the inspection. Be sure to ask the inspector which appliances are not included so that you can check them yourself.
        •    Laundry room - The inspector will make sure the laundry room is properly vented. A poorly maintained dryer-exhaust system can be a serious fire hazard.
        •    Fire safety - If the home has an attached garage, the inspector will make sure the wall has the proper fire rating and that it hasn't been damaged in any way that would compromise its fire rating. They will also test the home's smoke detectors.
       •    Bathrooms - The inspector will check for visible leaks, properly secured toilets, adequate ventilation and other issues. If the bathroom does not have a window and/or a ventilation fan, mold and mildew can become problems and moisture can warp wood cabinets over time.

Inspection Contingency

Every contract, whether it is as-is or not, has an inspection contingency built in.  With an “as-is” contract, the buyer can walk away within a certain timeframe if they discover something on the home inspection they do not like.  On a standard contract, there are provisions written into the contract stating the seller must fix any structural defects up to the amount specified in the contract.  The buyers can submit a list of requested repairs to the seller.  If the seller does not fix the repairs, the buyer can walk away and cancel the contract.  If the buyer does not make their decision within the time frame stated by the contract, they buyer can still walk away but will be liable for damages to the seller up to and including forfeiting the escrow deposit.

A home inspection is not the end-all, be-all when it comes to determining whether there is something wrong with a house.  The inspector checks for visual clues to problems.  The inspector cannot run the risk of damaging anything in the house to discover problems.  An inspector is not a jack-of-all trades expert.  For example, he or she might tell you that there might be a problem with the plumbing but will recommend you hire a plumber to verify the problem and give an estimate to fix.  

Do You Have More Questions?

To best protect our customers, all of the agents with Team Johnson of Alta Realty Company highly recommend always performing a home inspection. We work with great professionals and can provide you with a list of home inspectors.  Give us a call at 904-217-3711 or email us at for more information.

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