You’ve made an offer on a home and it’s been accepted. Congragulations, you have a contract! Don’t celebrate just yet though. You’ll still need to put the home you’re buying through some inspections.
The home inspection is the first that you’ll need to schedule. A home inspector will review the condition of the home’s heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, interior plumbing, electrical system, roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows,doors, foundation, basement, and visible structure. Make sure if the home is older than 20 years that you have a four-point inspection included by the home inspector for insurance purposes.
Wood Destroying Organism Inspection
Wood destroying organisms include termites, powder post beetles, carpenter ants, and fungus. You should expect to find WDO damage to some extent since Tallahassee has a subtropical climate. In your offer, you can either ask the owner to treat WDO damage, or you can address it yourself. Keep in mind some lenders may require a clean WDO inspection prior to closing.
If a survey will not be done on a home, the title company can still issue title insurance with survey exceptions. However, since lenders will require a clear title insurance policy covering the face value of the mortgage, it becomes necessary to obtain a survey to satisfy the lender’s requirements.
Appraisal and Flood Certification
When getting a home loan, there are some inspections that the lender will likely take care of for you. During your loan application, you will pay a non-refundable application fee that goes towards an appraisal. The lender will schedule the appraisal, often with a certified appraiser. The lender will also order a flood certification to verify which flood zone the property is in. If the property is at risk, it doesn’t necessarily preclude a loan, but flood insurance could be required.
Radon is dangerous, but it can also be expensive. Suppose you don’t do a radon test. In 5 years you put the home up for sale. A potential buyer tests for and finds radon. Buyers don’t want a home with radon problems, so now you have to fix it. It’s better to address radon at the time you buy than at the time you sell.
Wind Mitigation Inspection
To get the lowest rates on an insurance policy, a homeowner may need to show that their home, and particularly their roof, is built to withstand extreme weather. Roof deck thickness, deck and shingle nailing pattern, the presence of roof to wall attachments (toe nails, clips or hurricane straps), and the presence of a secondary water resistance barrier are all construction features that have been show to reduce losses in hurricanes. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’ll benefit by having a wind mitigation inspection done.
Four Point Inspection
A four-point inspection has far less scope than a home inspection and can usually be done by a certified home inspector for an additional $100-$150. It is a limited, visual survey of the roof, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems. Most insurance companies will require homes older than 20 years to have a four point inspection done before they will insure the home.
After WWII, stucco was developed as a repair tool for war-damaged buildings. Most of the buildings being repaired were stone, concrete, brick or other durable material. In the 1980’s, North American contractors began applying those same techniques to wood-frame houses. Stucco forms a barrier that doesn’t breathe. If moisture gets trapped behind the stucco, it will likely lead to wood rot and other problems in the home. A stucco inspector will test for moisture around stucco seams and look for damage that may allow moisture to pass through to the wood frame.
If a four-point inspection shows a roof with considerable age (shingles curling, cracking), your insurer may ask that you get a roof inspection to verify its remaining life. Many insurers won’t insure a home if the roof has less than 5 years remaining; a few will but at a much higher cost.
Septic Tank (optional)
Most septic tanks have a useful lifetime of 20-25 years. After that, the concrete tanks can become cracked, drain fields become clogged with solids or roots, and sewage pipes become blocked or broken. If home is older than 20 years and there is no record of septic tank maintenance, it’s best to have a septic tank inspections