It is of utmost importance to ALWAYS hire a professional home inspector to do a complete inspection of your home that you are planning to purchase. Once you have an executed buy/sell agreement on a home you usually have a limited amount of time to complete the inspection contingencies. So immediately start interviewing professional home inspectors and make sure the one that you hire can complete the home inspection and radon test within your contract time period.
Also, make sure you know what the professional home inspection will cover. Each home inspector should have a comprehensive list of what they cover. Here are just a few of the items I think an inspection should at least cover:
- Structural Elements. Floors, walls, ceilings, crawlspaces, attic, and foundation. Inspectors note the placement and condition of each, but don’t provide a detailed architectural or engineering analysis.
- Visible Exterior. Exterior doors, wall coverings, flashing, decks and porches, railings, walkways, screened elements, eaves, fascia, siding, window components, driveways, and patios. This also covers exterior vegetation, slopes, drainage elements, and retaining walls that could adversely affect the home’s structure.
- Roofing. All roof components, including the principal roofing material, flashing, protruding elements (such as skylights and cooking vents), and drainage systems (such as gutters). This usually doesn’t include external wiring and antennas.
- Plumbing. Water supply lines and fixtures, waste removal lines and fixtures, water heaters and associated fuel storage systems, sump pumps and sewage ejectors, and any accessible drains (such as a basement floor drain).
- Electrical. Visible wiring (not in the walls), service wire entry points, disconnect points, grounding wires, circuit breakers, service panels, surge protection devices that come with the house, and “a representative number” of light fixtures – for instance, a single track light in a series of five.
- HVAC. Permanent heating and air conditioning generation and source systems (such as the furnace and outdoor main unit, but not window air conditioning units), ducting, and related distribution systems. Importantly, as most home inspectors aren’t familiar with renewable energy technologies, this usually doesn’t include solar panels and other eco-friendly HVAC power generation systems.
- Visible Interior. Interior walls, floors, stairs, countertops, railings, garage interiors, and functional, connected appliances.
- Insulation and Ventilation. Insulation and secondary ventilation systems (including bathroom and dryer vents) in all accessible areas such as crawlspaces, attics, closets, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements. This usually includes such safety equipment as carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.
- Fireplaces, Chimneys, and Stoves. Given the threats associated with poorly maintained fireplaces, chimneys, and open-flame stoves, home inspectors devote special attention to these components. Inspectors note the condition and cleanliness of all accessible system components, as well as the condition of accessible exterior elements, such as roof chimneys.
- Mold. The inspector should look for signs of mold as he or she inspects the home.
- Drainage. The inspector should look for proper drainage around the home.
- RADON TEST. YOU HAVE TO REQUEST A RADON TEST with the home inspection and it does cost extra but a RADON TEST IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. ALWAYS GET A RADON TEST! NO EXCEPTIONS!
Here are some additional links for Buyers.