Professional inspections may seem like an unnecessary expense -- a luxury. This is far from the truth. Inspections are more of a necessity. Here’s why:
Whether it is an old house or brand new construction, it is still important to get your property evaluated by a professional. There is always a possibility of a hidden mistake or that a shortcut has been taken during construction or repairs. Just because the property looks beautiful, does not mean that there are no faulty wires behind the walls. Or a crack in the foundation that you didn't notice. Getting an inspections helps you to know things are up to code.
When it comes to things like asbestos, mold, radon, and lead, you do not want to take the risk. These things cause a hazardous environment that can be potentially lethal to both you and your family. Take the safe road. Get an inspection and know that your home is safe.
First a lead inspector will conduct a Visual Inspection on both the exterior and the interior. During this process they will be looking for signs of chipping, flaking or peeling paint. Once completed they will begin taking dust wipe samples. This measures the amount of lead dust on different surfaces. If they are inspecting a property with replacement windows, only one dust wipe sample is required per room. If the property still has original windows that are painted, two samples per room are required. If there is a room without a window, only one sample is needed.
A termite inspector will evaluate all accessible locations for evidence of a termite infestation and damage. This includes signs that are from both the past and present. They look for wood damage, mud tubes, discarded wings, termite exit holes and termite droppings. Subterranean and Drywood are the two most common types of termites. Drywood termites prefer wood that is completely dried out, where Subterranean termites need moisture to live. For this reason, they tend to live underground. Inspectors will focus on common termite entry points for activity based on each termite species unique behavior.
A radon inspector will need access to the property to place a measurement devices. This device will record the radon levels that are present. A radon test can be conducted in as little as 48 to 96 hours (It is a good idea to redo the testing in multiple seasons because radon levels can sometimes be higher depending on the season.) Upon completion of the test, the inspector will need to retrieve the devices. A detailed analysis is performed by a certified lab and results are provided to you generally within 2 days of submission for analysis.
Mold inspections will look for both evidence of past and present growth. Past mold growth may indicate a water problem which if recurring, mold can return. Inspections will look for mold within the property, inside walls, and in other areas where mold growth is undesirable. This includes areas where mold growth can cause structural issues. Samples will be taken and tested to give a clearer picture of the extent of the mold infestation. Mold growth is dependent on moisture. For this reason, it is important to find the sources of the moisture causing the molds growth.
If the property is supplied by a well system, or is in a neighborhood with old lead piping, water testing is needed. The water inspector will take samples and test for water hardness and metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic. If the home has a septic tank, that will also need to be tested to ensure the system is working properly.
There are three major methods for asbestos testing. The type of testing your inspector uses will depend on the type of sample they are testing. Polarized light microscopy is quick and and can distinguish asbestos from fibers like cellulose and fiberglass. Phase contrast microscopy (PCM) is also quick but it cannot directly identify asbestos. It would be used to determine if fibers are present in an air samples. If this test comes back positive, additional testing would be required. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) accurately identifies asbestos fibers that the other testing methods cannot identify as accurately.
A home inspector will evaluate the plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling systems using the standard operating controls. They will not operate any shut off valves, switches or breakers for this reason, make sure utilities and heating/cooling systems are on prior to the inspection. A home inspection will take a few hours and should cover things such as the: plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, foundation, basements/crawlspaces, siding/trim, roof/gutters, appliances, water heaters, porches/decks, driveways, walkways, exterior steps, and railings.The inspector will then share a report.
A rental inspector provides you with a detailed report of their findings. During the inspection, They will look at a series of things. In most cases this includes all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functional and located in the correct areas, that electrical wires are not visible in living areas, That both cold and hot water run in the bathrooms and kitchen, that any sleeping areas in basements have a second means for escape in the event of fire, That sinks and toilet flushes are leak free, all railings are present and secure where appropriate, and that the furnace is functional.