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Sometimes Home Inspections Are Not Enough

May 21, 2019 8:26:58 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

Unless you are a construction expert, when you buy an existing home, the best investment prior to closing is a good home inspection. Any realtor worth their salt will recommend a home inspection, unless they are suspicious about the home’s quality. For an average-sized home, a typical home inspection costs between $350 to $500 depending on the detail of the inspection and report. Since most home inspections are submitted in email form nowadays, home inspectors seem to be adding a lot more pictures and fluff to justify charging higher prices.

A regular home inspection is a visual documentation of the condition of the home with basic readings like the temperature of the HVAC system, water pressure and temperature. A basic home inspection will spot leaks in the attic, dripping faucets, cracked receptacles and basic physical damage. Although a good home inspector can find a lot of potential issues, normally there is little detail to support the finding. For example, they may find a water spot in a ceiling, but unable to diagnose where the leak originated in the roof. They will turn on appliances, cooling systems and water heaters to check their operations. Most of the home inspection consists of observations and nothing more.

Observations are okay for chipped paint and stained carpet, but a home inspection that relies solely on observations comes up short when you need a real evaluation on major elements of the home. Investing a few hundred dollars to have an expert look at some of the other major scopes of a house before you buy it would be wise.

Here are the areas where you should consider bringing in an independent expert to do an inspection of a specific scope before you purchase a home.

Heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems (HVAC) are very expensive to replace due to more demanding energy codes. Plus, a less than honest home seller could pump up the freon in a system to make sure it runs cool the day of the home inspection. Hiring an independent HVAC expert to inspect, gauge and evaluate the system costs a few hundred dollars, and they can tell you if the system is in good working order or has been damaged and patched up. It is a worthwhile investment.

A qualified roofer to evaluate your shingles is very smart. An average-sized roof can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 to replace — that is a lot of money for someone who just purchased a home. A trusted roofer can determine if the roof has been damaged by a storm, if the shingles are installed correctly and, most importantly, evaluate the flashing to see if it has been installed to prevent leakage. Many insurance companies are requiring roofs older than 18 years to be replaced — the roofer can check to see when the roof was installed. Normally, this inspection to get peace of mind costs less than $200.

Having an electrician inspect an older home is a smart thing to do. They can determine if the electrical panel box is up to code and is not one of the boxes identified as dangerous. Plus, they can check for aluminum wire, voltage issues and even test the electric water heater elements. For the price of a service call, you can spend the first night in your new home assured it won’t burn down.

If the house has old plumbing and you see patches in the drywall, a plumber can evaluate the condition and life expectancy of the plumbing. A plumber can also determine the basic conditions of faucets and toilets as well as determine if the drain system is working properly.

If you are considering buying a home with a septic system, you will want to have the system inspected for cracks in the tank, the field line checked for damage from roots and tested for its ability to perc. Septic tanks are a huge issue in the state of Florida and will become an even bigger issue in the near future. A poorly installed or outdated septic system can be extremely expensive to replace. You don’t want to buy a home with a septic system without an inspection by an approved septic system provider.

To many homebuyers, adding these inspections seems to be complicating the homebuying process. It is, and the reason is simple — everything has gotten so expensive. Twenty years ago, when most of these items were 25 percent of today’s cost, a homeowner could take a chance. Buying a home is a significant investment with a lot of money. As a buyer, you have a right to know what you are getting — don’t skimp on inspections for the big-ticket items.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Topics: New Home Construction