Category Archives: Inspections

Home Inspections

What To Expect When You’re Inspecting

In this photo of a crawlspace, the pier supporting the home has been compromised to allow for an improperly supported water pipe to stay on its path.

Getting a home inspection when buying a house is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps ensure the property is in good condition and free from significant defects that could lead to costly repairs.

Secondly, a home inspection provides valuable information about the home’s overall safety. It can uncover issues like electrical hazards, structural weaknesses, or the presence of harmful substances like mold or asbestos. Identifying these issues can prevent accidents and health risks.

Additionally, a home inspection can assist in negotiations with the seller. If the inspection reveals significant issues, a buyer can use this information to negotiate a lower purchase price or request that the seller make necessary repairs before the sale closes.

Lastly, having a professional inspector assess the property gives you peace of mind. By knowing precisely what you are getting into, you can make an informed decision about the purchase.

A home inspection is a prudent step in home-buying, offering protection, information, and potential savings overall.

Here’s what is typically covered in a home inspection:

1. Structural Components: Inspectors assess the home’s structural integrity, including the foundation, walls, roof, and overall construction. They look for signs of damage, settling, or structural issues.

2. Exterior: The inspection includes an examination of the exterior of the property, including siding, windows, doors, and the condition of the landscaping. Any potential drainage or grading problems affecting the property will be noted.

3. Roof: The inspector will inspect the roof for signs of damage, leaks, or wear and tear. They may also estimate the remaining lifespan of the roofing material.

4. Plumbing: The plumbing system is examined for leaks, water pressure issues, and the functionality of fixtures such as sinks, faucets, toilets, and showers. The water heater is inspected as well.

5. Electrical:  Inspectors check the electrical system for safety and compliance with local codes. This includes the inspection of outlets, switches, circuit breakers, and the main electrical panel.

6. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC): The HVAC system is evaluated for proper operation and maintenance. This inspection includes the furnace, air conditioner, ductwork, and ventilation.

7. Insulation and Ventilation: Inspectors assess the insulation in the home to ensure energy efficiency and may check for adequate attic and crawl space ventilation.

8. Appliances: Major appliances included in the sale, such as the stove, dishwasher, and microwave, are assessed for functionality.

9. Interior: The interior inspection covers walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows. Any visible issues, such as cracks or water stains, may be documented.

10. Attic and Crawl Spaces: These areas are inspected for signs of leaks, insulation problems, or pest infestations.

11. Basement or Foundation: The condition of the basement or crawl space and any potential moisture or structural issues are examined.

12. Safety Issues: Home inspectors pay attention to safety concerns, such as radon, mold, asbestos, or lead-based paint.

After the inspection, the inspector typically provides a detailed report that outlines their findings, including any defects or issues discovered. Buyers can use this report to negotiate with the seller, request repairs, or make an informed decision about the purchase.

A home inspection aims to thoroughly evaluate a property’s condition, identify potential problems, and provide buyers with valuable information to make informed choices in the home-buying process.

Mold In A Home

A mold inspection is crucial in evaluating and addressing mold issues in a home. Here’s a brief overview of what a mold inspection entails and the potential remedies if mold is found in a home:

Mold Inspection:

A mold inspection is a comprehensive assessment of a property to identify the presence of mold and determine its extent. It typically involves the following steps:

  1. Visual Inspection: A certified mold inspector visually examines the property, looking for signs of mold growth. This inspection includes checking common mold-prone areas like basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, and areas with water damage.
  2. Moisture Assessment: Moisture is a critical factor in mold growth. Inspectors use moisture meters to identify areas with high humidity or moisture intrusion, which can promote mold growth.
  3. Air Sampling: Mold spore sampling is conducted to assess the air quality. Air samples are collected both indoors and outdoors to compare mold spore levels.
  4. Surface Sampling: Swab or tape samples may be taken from suspicious areas to identify the type of mold present.
  5. Report: After the inspection, a detailed report is provided, outlining the findings, including mold type and extent. This information helps in determining the severity of the problem.

Remedies for Mold:

If mold is found in a home, it’s essential to take prompt action to address the issue. The specific remedies may vary depending on the severity and extent of the mold problem. Here are typical steps:

  1. Remediation: Professional mold remediation is required for extensive mold infestations. Certified mold removal specialists use proper techniques and equipment to remove and clean affected areas safely.
  2. Fixing Moisture Issues: Addressing the source of moisture is crucial to prevent mold from returning. Remedies may involve repairing leaks, improving ventilation, and reducing humidity levels.
  3. Replacement: In severe cases, materials like drywall or insulation may need to be replaced if they cannot be adequately cleaned.
  4. Preventive Measures: Implementing preventive measures such as proper ventilation, using dehumidifiers, and maintaining a dry environment can help prevent future mold growth.
  5. Testing After Remediation: Conducting a follow-up mold test after remediation is advisable to ensure that the problem has been effectively addressed.

Lead Based Paint

The seller of any home in North Carolina, constructed prior to 1978, is required to provide a Lead Based Paint Disclosure to any potential buyer. That disclosure is designed to let buyers know of any known existence of lead-based paint, or to give the buyer the opportunity to inspect for the presence of lead based paint in the home.

In North Carolina, lead-based paint inspections are essential, especially in older homes, due to the potential health hazards associated with lead exposure, particularly for young children and pregnant women.

Lead-Based Paint Inspection Process in North Carolina:

1. Hire a Certified Inspector: The first step is to hire a certified lead-based paint inspector. In North Carolina, inspectors must be certified by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to conduct lead-based paint inspections.

2. Visual Inspection: The certified inspector will visually inspect the interior and exterior property to identify potential areas with lead-based paint. They’ll look for surfaces with lead-based paint, commonly used in homes built before 1978.

3. Testing: If lead-based paint is suspected, the inspector may conduct testing. This inspection involves taking paint samples from various home areas, particularly areas prone to wear and deterioration, such as windowsills, doors, and trim.

4. Laboratory Analysis: The paint samples are sent to a certified laboratory for analysis. The lab will determine if the paint contains lead and provide the lead concentration in each sample.

5. Report: The inspector will compile a report that includes the laboratory results and a summary of their findings. This report will indicate whether lead-based paint is present and, if so, the locations and levels of lead contamination.

6. Recommendations: The inspector may recommend managing or abating lead-based paint hazards. This process could include repainting with lead-safe practices, encapsulation, or more extensive abatement if lead hazards are severe.

Red Flags for Buyers Regarding Lead-Based Paint:

1. Age of the Property: Homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead-based paint. Buyers of older homes should be especially vigilant.

2. Chipping or Peeling Paint: Visible chipping, peeling, or deteriorating paint, especially on windows, doors, and trim, can be a red flag for potential lead-based paint hazards.

3. Cracked or Damaged Surfaces: Cracked or damaged painted surfaces can release lead dust or chips, increasing the risk of exposure.

4. Home Renovations: If the property has undergone recent renovations, it’s essential to inquire about lead-based paint testing and abatement procedures, as disturbing lead-based paint during renovations can create hazards.

5. Reports and Disclosures: Buyers should review any lead-based paint inspection reports or disclosures the seller provides. These documents can provide valuable information about lead hazards in the property.

6. Children or Pregnant Residents: If young children or pregnant women reside in the home, taking extra precautions and considering lead testing is crucial, even if no obvious red flags are present.

Buyers concerned about lead-based paint hazards should consult with their real estate agent and consider hiring a certified paint inspector to assess the property thoroughly. It’s essential to address any lead hazards appropriately to ensure the safety of occupants, especially children.

Roof Inspection

A roof inspection typically includes thoroughly examining the roofing system to assess its condition and identify any issues. This process can be necessary for homeowners, buyers, and sellers to determine the roof’s health and potential maintenance or repair needs. Here’s what a roof inspection may encompass:

  1. Exterior Assessment: The inspector will visually inspect the roof’s exterior. They will check for signs of damage, such as missing or damaged shingles, cracks, or wear and tear. They’ll also look for any debris or vegetation accumulated on the roof.
  2. Interior Inspection: In some cases, the inspector may also check the property’s interior for signs of roof leaks, which involves looking for water stains on ceilings, walls, or attic.
  3. Flashing and Vent Inspection: The inspector will examine the flashing around roof penetrations (like chimneys or vents) to ensure they are adequately sealed. They’ll also check the condition of vents, gutters, and downspouts.
  4. Shingle Condition: If the roof has shingles, the inspector will assess their condition. They’ll look for curling, buckling, or shingles that may have come loose. Damaged or missing shingles can be indicators of potential problems.
  5. Roof Deck Inspection: The inspector may access the roof deck from the attic, drone, or by walking on the roof (if safe), which allows them to check for rot, moisture damage, or structural issues.
  6. Overall Roof Structure: The inspector will evaluate the overall structure of the roof, including its slope, framing, and any visible signs of sagging or damage.
  7. Assessment of Roof Age: They will try to determine the roof’s approximate age, as the lifespan of different roofing materials can vary.
  8. Recommendations: Based on their findings, the inspector will provide recommendations for any necessary repairs or maintenance. They may also estimate the remaining lifespan of the roof.
  9. Documentation: A comprehensive report with photos may be provided to the homeowner or relevant parties, detailing the inspection findings and recommendations.

It’s important to note that the specific details of a roof inspection can vary depending on the inspector’s expertise and the type of roofing material. Regular roof inspections can help homeowners maintain their roofs, prevent leaks, and extend the life of this crucial part of a home.

HVAC Inspection

An HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) inspection is critical to assessing the condition and functionality of a home’s heating and cooling systems. Here’s an overview of the process and red flags that home buyers should be aware of:

Process of an HVAC Inspection:

  1. Visual Inspection: The HVAC inspector starts with a visual examination of the heating and cooling systems. They check for visible signs of damage, wear, or improper installation. The inspection includes the furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, and associated components.
  2. Testing: The inspector tests the HVAC system for proper operation. This part of the inspection involves turning on the heating and cooling systems to ensure they function as expected. They check for adequate airflow and assess temperature output.
  3. Air Duct Inspection: Inspectors may inspect the air ducts for leaks, blockages, or signs of damage. Proper ductwork is essential for efficient HVAC operation.
  4. Thermostat Inspection: The thermostat is examined to ensure it functions correctly and accurately controls the temperature.
  5. Safety Checks: Safety features of the HVAC system are evaluated, including checking for gas leaks (if applicable), ensuring proper ventilation for combustion appliances, and inspecting electrical connections for safety.
  6. Filter Assessment: The inspector may check the condition of the air filters and recommend replacement if they are dirty or clogged. Clean filters are essential for efficient HVAC operation and indoor air quality.
  7. Efficiency Evaluation: In some cases, inspectors may assess the energy efficiency of the HVAC system. This analysis helps home buyers understand potential energy costs associated with the system.

Red Flags for Home Buyers Regarding HVAC:

  1. Old or Outdated Systems: If the HVAC system is significantly old or outdated, it may be less energy-efficient and more prone to breakdowns. Home buyers should consider the age of the system and whether an upgrade or replacement is needed.
  2. Inconsistent Heating or Cooling: If there are noticeable temperature variations between rooms or floors, it could indicate problems with the HVAC system or inadequate insulation and ductwork.
  3. Strange Noises or Odors: Unusual noises, such as banging or squealing, or strange odors from the HVAC system are red flags. These could indicate mechanical issues, blockages, or even safety concerns.
  4. Lack of Maintenance Records: If the seller cannot provide records of regular HVAC maintenance, it may suggest neglect, and the system may not be in optimal condition.
  5. High Energy Bills: If the current homeowner has experienced unusually high energy bills, it may be a sign of an inefficient HVAC system that needs attention.
  6. Frequent Repairs: If the HVAC system has a history of frequent breakdowns and repairs, it may be a sign that it’s nearing the end of its lifespan and needs replacement.
  7. Non-Compliance: Ensure the HVAC system complies with local building codes and regulations. Non-compliance could result in costly upgrades or repairs.
  8. Mismatched Components: In some cases, HVAC systems may have mismatched components due to improper installation or replacements. Incompatible components can affect the efficiency and performance of the system.

An HVAC inspection involves assessing the heating and cooling systems, ductwork, safety features, and overall functionality. Home buyers should be alert to red flags such as old systems, inconsistent performance, unusual noises, and a lack of maintenance records, as these can impact the comfort and efficiency of the home.

Radon Inspection

A radon inspection assesses the levels of radon gas in a home, as radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can be harmful when present in high concentrations. Here’s what a radon inspection typically covers and the process:

1. Radon Testing Methods:

There are two standard methods for radon testing:

   a. Short-Term Testing: This involves placing small radon testing devices, such as charcoal canisters or alpha-track detectors, in the lowest livable area of the home for a specified period, usually 2 to 7 days. After testing, the devices are sent to a laboratory for analysis to determine radon levels.

   b. Long-Term Testing: Long-term testing uses specialized detectors, like electret ion chamber detectors or continuous radon monitors, that remain in the home for an extended period, typically 90 days to one year. These detectors provide a more accurate picture of radon levels over time.

2. Location of Testing:

Testing is typically conducted in the home’s lowest livable area, as radon accumulates in basements and crawl spaces. However, testing is also performed on higher floors if those areas are occupied.

3. Radon Levels:

Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set an action level of 4 pCi/L. If the radon test indicates levels at or above this threshold, mitigation measures are recommended to reduce radon levels.

Red Flags for Home Buyers Regarding Radon:

When considering a home purchase, there are several red flags to watch out for regarding radon:

1. No Previous Radon Testing: If there is no record of radon testing in the home, it’s a good idea to request a radon test as part of the home inspection process.

2. High Radon Levels: If a radon test reveals levels at or above 4 pCi/L, this is a red flag. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid the purchase. Still, it does mean that radon mitigation should be considered, and the buyer should negotiate with the seller accordingly.

3. Improper Radon Mitigation: If the home already has a radon mitigation system in place, ensure it has been properly installed and is in good working condition. An improperly installed system may not effectively reduce radon levels.

4. Location and Geology: Homes in some geographic regions may be more prone to high radon levels due to local geology. Research the radon risk in the area where the home is located.

5. Disclosure: In some regions, sellers are legally required to disclose radon test results and any radon mitigation systems in place. Ensure you receive this information from the seller.

6. Consult Professionals: It’s advisable to consult with a qualified radon mitigation professional if you have concerns about radon in the home. They can assess the situation and recommend appropriate measures.

Radon testing is essential to home-buying, especially in areas with a known radon risk. Red flags include high radon levels, lack of testing, improper mitigation, and geological factors. Addressing radon issues can help ensure the safety and health of occupants in the home.