Know Before You Buy
A professional home inspection is your best defense against buying a home that has unexpected issues that will cost you time and money as the new owner. Getting a proper home inspection on a single family home you plan to buy is a must. Don’t ever skip proper inspections. Ever.
There are different types of inspections that should be considered depending on the type, age and condition of the home you are buying. Here are your options ::
General Home Inspection. This is the common Home Inspection- the one that you and your agent will talk about. An inspection will run you around $400 and will get you a general inspection of all of the homes major operating systems and structure. That includes the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, roof, structure and more. In many (most) cases, a General Home Inspection is all you need to protect yourself. Good Home Inspectors are not difficult to come by but if you don’t know one personally, take a recommendation from someone who does. Real estate agents are a good resource. They understand what makes a good home inspector and work with them for a living. And because they have an interest in their clients getting the best home possible they’ve likely created long standing relationships with professional Home Inspectors. Secondarily you can take recommendations from family or friends. Beware- One good experience with a home inspector makes not a good home inspector. And, even though dad may fancy himself good around the house, I promise your pharmacist father is not qualified. No handy men, carpenters, neighbors or uncles. Only well trained, highly experienced, certified, professional Home Inspectors.
Mold Inspection. Ah, the 4 letter word. Mold. First, let’s get some facts straight. Not all mold is the same. That black stuff, you know, the mildew growing on your shower curtain (Gross! Put that thing in the washer!) is not the same as the mushrooms growing in your yard or the notorious and far, far, far more rare “Black Mold” that is legend in the media. Second, a mold test is not a visual inspection but a testing of air quality. Every home has mold spores in the air and in Atlanta, a sub-tropic environment, we have more than our share under everyday, no problem conditions. We breath in such spores every waking day. But some homes have a higher concentration which could lead to health problems like asthma. Some homes are more susceptible because of their construction type. Ask your home inspector and agent for advise. After a visual inspection they can share if there is evidence of mold which may have you take further action. Generally, if the mold is concentrated in the air, there will be other tell-tale signs. A strong musty odor in a home is one such indication that an air quality test would be a good idea. Not all homes need an air quality test but if you do choose to have it done they can often be performed by your Home Inspector for an additional charge- usually around $250. Don’t be too scared of it either. Best it’s caught early-on as most situations are completely correctable.
Lead Based Paint Testing. First a few facts. Lead paint is harmful when ingested (eaten) so those with small children who eat paint should be cautious. Lead paint was not used or sold in the United States after 1978 so there is no concern with homes build after 1978. If you are considering a home build prior to 1978 you may consider lead paint testing. If you are looking at homes built before 1950 there is a high chance that there is lead paint somewhere in the home. It may be under layers of paint but can still be found with good samplings. Here the question to ask yourself… “will I still buy this home with lead paint?”. If the answer is yes, forgo the expensive testing! If the answer is “no, I won’t buy this house” then perhaps you should have your agent only show you homes built post 1978. I’d say buy the home you want- just don’t eat the paint!
Radon Testing. Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas that is produced naturally from the decaying of uranium and thorium under the ground. It’s everywhere. Naturally. But you don’t want it trapped inside your home. Some geographical locations are more active than others and because it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in humans, you should test the home for high levels of radon. Some level of Radon will be found in most homes but it’s the higher concentrations (above 4cpi) that are of concern. Radon enters a home from the ground through the lowest point in a home- like a basement or crawl space - through cracks in the foundation or flooring etc. The good news is, if found, there are easy, relatively inexpensive ways to handle the issue without having to walk away from a home you love. The’s a deeper conversation for another day but know that Radon testing makes since for all home Buyers and will cost about an additional $200. Radon is also a testing of the air- by machine- over a 3 day period and can be done by your General Home Inspector for around an additional $200.
There may be other types of inspection you could consider but these are the one’s that are common place. Always seek advise from those you trust. A good real estate agent will be prepared and proactive in having these conversations with you. Lean on them for counsel and get the information you need to make smart decisions around choosing the inspections that are right for the property you are buying.