When purchasing a home it is always recommended to perform a variety of inspections to satisfy the buyer. The buyer can opt to perform a range of inspections to make sure that you are well informed about what you are buying based on the condition of the home. You can perform as many or as few inspections as you want. I have had buyers bring their construction buddy over to the home to take a look, or their handy father (or mother). But the most common method is for a buyer to hire a home inspector. These inspectors will go through the majority of the house, looking for defects. Their purpose is to find defects, and believe me, they will! They will generate a report detailing what they find. This report is usually many pages long, some reaching 20 pages or more. They usually know more than a handy uncle because they inspect hundreds of houses every year.
The main reason for an inspection though is to make sure there is a balance with how much you are offering on the home, and what you are getting. It is to know the home's defects are accounted for within the pricing of the home itself. So there a dozen of items to fix that total $300, that may be just fine and you may expect that. But if the inspection turns up a $6000 sewer line problem, you may have expected a properly working sewer line in the price you are paying for the house. This gives us the opportunity to renegotiate the price, or ask for repairs, so that the expectations of the house match the price you are paying for the house.
Besides the general inspection, you can also perform specialized inspections. The main one or two that I recommend is the sewer line inspection and/or a fireplace inspection. Other types of inspections include structural, or environmental hazard (radon, lead, arsenic, etc.) electric or plumbing (as separate from the general inspection), and several other types of inspections.
Radon is a common problem in Minnesota. But it is usually not too large of an expense to solve the problem if it occurs. Usually the general inspector can perform a radon test. You can see more on this post about radon.
Sewer Line Inspection
Sewer lines can be very expensive to fix or replace. A typical sewer line can run $6000 or $8000 to replace, making it one of the larger expenses in a home This is why it is a good reason to have the sewer line inspected. If the sewer line shows signs of failure, we can ask the seller to repair or replace the line, saving you the time and cost headaches. Here is more information regarding sewer line inspections.
A fireplace chimney is also very expensive item to repair. On South Minneapolis homes, the stucco chimney on the exterior of the home can run $20,000 to rebuild it from the ground up. That is an expensive repair. A fireplace inspector can send a camera up and down the chimney to verify that the joints are still solid so that water cannot get in between the bricks or liner pieces. They can also check for creosote buildup, which can be dangerous and could cause a chimney fire.
It is a good idea to chat with a few potential inspectors before making an offer on a home regarding items such as:
- Availability / timeframe
- Familiarity with area and style of home
- Newer or older homes
Some of them may be willing to provide a sample report to you. Or you can take a look at this sample report.
When it comes down to the inspection timeframe, most are available to schedule an appoitment within 2 or 3 days of the request. They usually will take between 2 and 3 hours or so. You don't need to be there the whole time, and many will ask you to be there for the last hour or 1.5 hours.
That's the basics of inspections.
Results of inspections
Once you have the results of an inspection what do you do with it? I've addressed that in this post called How to resolve inspection issues.