Buying a home is one of the largest investments that most people will make wheither it's your dream home in Blue Ridge Ga or your North Georgia Mountain vacation home. You want to make sure there is no hidden issues that will arise when you least expect it. Repairs to a home can cost thousands of dollars, and environmental hazards such as lead paint and mold can cause serious health problems. You want to make sure you know what you're getting before you make that investment!
The seller must disclose the major defects s/he knows about in the house, but the buyer isn't required to have inspections done to find out what the defects are. The only way to protect yourself from nasty surprises is to have your own inspections done before the deal is final.
Your Initial Inspection
You can do an informal inspection when you first look at the property.
Are things like walls, windows, doorways, and floors straight?
Are there cracks in the walls, floors, or ceilings?
Are there watermarks on ceilings, walls, or in the basement or crawlspace?
Has there been poor maintenance of windows, doors, roof, gutters, and exterior paint?
Is the foundation eroding?
Do the appliances function?
Are there obvious problems with the electrical wiring? (Check outlets and switches.)
How old is the furnace and what condition is it in?
Are there water marks from plumbing, a leaking roof, windows or doors? Is there visible mold.
Which Inspections Should You Have?
There are 2 inspections most buyers have done: the general house inspection and a pest inspection. Be sure you know what you're getting. The pest inspection is for both bugs and fungus: termites, beetles, dry rot and other fungal infestations. The general housing inspection covers most of the structure and systems, including appliances and heating/cooling systems. These problems can all be extensive and expensive to repair.
General Home Inspection
Construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof and foundation.
Wall covering, landscaping, grading, elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, fascia, trim, doors, windows, lights and exterior receptacles.
Roof and Attic.
Framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing and gutters. It does not include a guarantee of roof condition nor a roof certification.
Identification of pipe materials used for potable, drain, waste and vent pipes. Including condition. Toilets, showers, sinks, faucets and traps. It does not include a sewer inspection.
Systems and Components.
Water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, fireplace and sprinklers.
Main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Dishwasher, range and oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal and, yes, even smoke detectors.
Slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights, receptacles, exterior, windows and roof.
If you have some reason to suspect an additional problem, like radon, mold, asbestos, toxic chemicals, or lead paint in a building built before 1978, you can schedule special inspections to check for those problems.
Finding the Right Inspector(s)
You should have an inspector identified by the time you are ready to make an offer on a home. Inspection periods are time sensitive. When choosing inspectors, you will want people who are knowledgeable, experienced, and reputable. Ask a potential inspector what kind of report he or she does. Don't hire an inspector who just gives you a rating of good, fair, or poor for each category. You want a discussion of problems and further problems that might be indicated. If you can possibly attend, you should also accompany each inspector to see the problems for yourself.