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Real Estate Inspections Save You Money

Property, like any other good for sale, comes in all conditions. But the average home or real property costs 8-10 times or more the amount of other high ticket items. That's what makes it an investment rather than merely a purchase. Essential to ensuring it's a sound one is getting a thorough inspection. Write right into the deal that any offer is contingent on a satisfactory inspection. And what constitutes 'satisfactory'...?

Assuming the property contains wood, first and foremost is a separate termite and pest inspection. Most 'home inspectors' don't check for this, concentrating instead on mechanical and others aspects. Termites, carpenter ants, even mice can weaken walls and floors, chew through wiring, and ruin attics and shelving.

Professional inspectors check every aspect of a property and structure.

Starting with the foundation, they look for large cracks (almost all have minor ones), check for level ground, and influx of water. Evidence can show up as efflorescence — a white powdery material which indicates penetration points, mold or mildew (black stained areas). Some will use lasers to check level and cracking and some even use meters to check for radon gas concentrations.

Houses sit on top of foundations and that flooring has to be inspected for proper joints, angles, and materials used. From those floors rise walls which are similarly subject to incorrect framing and potential water damage. Inside the walls, plumbing and electrical systems are inspected for damage, non-code compliant construction, or simple age or wear. Any leaks are noted and pipes inspected for rust, lead, or other chemical concerns. Flow rate and pressure are sometimes measured.

Electrical systems get a thorough review, checking for faulty wiring, uncovered switches or receptacles, incorrect grounding, inadequate circuit breakers, or bad GFCI trips. The latter are those little red buttons often seen in the middle of outlets. They are somewhat like miniature circuit breakers built into the receptacle itself.

Working up to the attic, framing is checked for angles and strength and the area checked for air or water leaks or damage. The underneath of the roof is examined for tears or holes in papering and proper seal where vent pipes protrude outside.

Up on the roof the inspector will check for holes, loose tile, bad flashing or any other weakness that leads to lack of protection against the elements.

Around the house outside all faucets are tested for leaks and proper flow, inside all heating and air conditioning systems will be checked for duct leaks, filter condition, and adequate capacity and flow. Thermostats get a thorough going over.

Any inbuilt appliances, such as stove and water heater are checked for compliance with standards. Installed propane or wood stoves and piping are checked for physical integrity and proper function.

Carpets are checked for inappropriate levels of wear or damage and tested for mold or water damage. Any paint damage, particularly due to water infiltration, get noted.

All these items, and many more, are noted on a report available to whomever ordered and paid for the inspection. To the potential buyer, defective items can be used as bargaining chips when negotiating price and other terms of sale. But the inspection can also benefit the seller by allowing for the opportunity to repair or improve items before putting the property on the market.

To either party, an inspection for a few hundred dollars can save thousands during the process. Information isn't just power, it's money, too.

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This information is not a substitute for professional medical, legal, or financial advice from a qualified provider.