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Health Evaluations When You’re Buying a Home

Home Safety Tip: Choosing a Home Inspector continued...

Although it’s fine to consider your Realtor’s recommendation, Kolesari recommends making sure that any home inspector you choose is involved in a national organization, such as NAHI. Membership in these organizations often requires more continuing education and more stringent certification standards than state licensing agencies. If you aren’t working with a Realtor, you might consider using the tools on the ASHI and NAHI Web sites to find a professional home inspector near you. Or, ask friends or family in your area who have recently purchased a home about their home inspection experience.

Once you have a recommendation for a certified home inspector, it’s time to gather a bit more information. Experts recommend interviewing your potential home inspector before making a final decision. Some questions you might ask include:

  • On average, how many homes do you inspect each year?
  • May I see a sample report?
  • May I contact past clients to discuss their experiences with your work?
  • Are you insured?
  • How long will the home inspection take?
  • How much will the home inspection cost?

What Does a Standard Home Inspection Include?

Professional inspectors are careful to point out that their job is not to “pass” or “fail” a home, but rather to make potential buyers aware of certain issues that may not be obvious. Some buyers may find certain problems unacceptable, and other individuals may decide to purchase a home in need of major repairs or renovations and make the necessary improvements.

A standard inspection usually covers:

  • Structure
  • Plumbing
  • Drainage
  • Heating
  • Cooling
  • Electricity

Often, identification of blockages or other problems with heating, cooling or ventilation will point out possible sources of dangerous carbon monoxide. The ASHI and NAHI both have detailed descriptions of what a home inspection will include on their web sites.

Beyond The Standard Home Inspection -- Mold, Radon, Allergens, and More

But wait, you’re thinking. What about lead? Radon? Mold? Pests? Allergens?

By national law, all homes built before 1978 must be tested for lead-based paint. And many licensed home inspectors will do additional tests, such as for mold or lead, upon request, though they usually charge an extra fee for this service.

Also, if there are certain issues you’re particularly worried about, such as mold if you have a child with severe asthma or allergies, Richardson recommends discussing this with your home inspector during a preinspection meeting.

Additionally, just because home inspectors aren’t there to look for mold or pests doesn’t mean they won’t keep an eye out for these, and other, potential issues.

“A home inspection per state and national standards is not looking for pests, mold, or environmental issues,” Kolesari tells WebMD. “But just because it’s not part of a standard doesn’t mean a home inspector isn’t going to look for these items. If an inspector feels there’s a mold issue, they may recommend a mold guy. If there seems to be a huge lead issue, they may recommend a lead expert. If they find a lot of evidence of mice, they may recommend a pest person. Home inspectors are like general practitioners -- they look over the house, and, if they feel something should be evaluated further, they’re going to let you know.”

Next Article:

How do you stay warm at home during the winter months?