A Home Inspection is meant to evaluate many, many areas and items in and on a home, including all major functional systems. The areas inspected are defined New Jersey State regulations, as well as American Society of Home Inspection (ASHI) standards. The following is a list of many (but not necessarily all) of the areas / items inspected:
Structure of the home, including masonry foundation and major wood and steel framing of the home.
Roof and roofing system & Roof Drainage System, including inspection of roof material and underside of roof where accessible.
Basement and accessible crawl spaces, Moisture evaluation of basement and sump pumps, Attics where accessible.
Exterior siding and trim, Windows and doors
Stairs, porches decks and balconies.
Heating system, Central Air Conditioning system.
Plumbing system, including water main, water piping in the home & Hot Water Heater & visible Drain Waste & Vent piping.
Electrical system, including main service, breaker panel, all visible wiring.
Interior condition of rooms in the home including Kitchen & Bathrooms.
Garage and garage doors, Driveway, Paths & Walkways around the home.
Chimney structure & Fireplace if present.
Termite / wood destroying insect inspection.
Yes. A home inspection is done predominantly visually, and by actually testing / using home systems, such as heating systems, plumbing, electrical items, etc. In some cases, certain tools can be used such as moisture meters to help detect water entry, and binoculars and / or drones to more closely view roofs. Home Inspectors are supposed to attempt to remove covers from items like circuit breaker panels, and heating systems, but they can’t extensively dis-assemble any items, and can’t do any damage, such as breaking or cutting wall material in a finished basement. Attics should be entered, but can only be entered where access points such as hatches or stairs are present and large enough, and lack of flooring can limit safe access. Basically, a Home Inspection is limited to visible and safely accessible areas and items.
Absolutely not. Under no circumstances should you buy any home without having a home inspection. Many significant issues can be present in a home of any age, even if the home appears to be well maintained. If the seller insists, you can say that you will limit demands from the inspection to costs above a certain level, such as items that cost above $2500.00, and / or exclude cosmetic defects. This will reassure your seller that you will not nit-pick, but just want to find out if there are significant defects. If a seller insists that you completely waive Home Inspection, you should walk away! Find another house! I have found many high cost and / or dangerous conditions in homes that appear to be and are otherwise beautiful homes! Don’t put you finances, and your family’s safety at risk! Insist on having a Home Inspection!
Yes. Definitely. Building a new house is complicated, involving dozens of sub contractors and hundreds of different areas and items of work. I inspect new homes all the time, and although some are generally well built, I have never found a new home that did not have at least several defects. Again, some of these defects are safety related, such as poorly built decks or incorrect wiring. I once inspected a new house where windows were badly installed, and when I unlatched a window the top portion came crashing down and smashed the end of my finger! Ouch! I would rather have this happen to me than to a new homeowner, or their kids! I’ve also found badly installed water heaters and stoves, spewing carbon monoxide into the interior! This is a life safety hazard! Also, I have gone into $2M new homes, with multiple heating systems, turned on the heat, and one or more of the (new) heating systems does not work. So no heat in your beautiful, expensive new home on the day you move in. Nobody wants that! How is this possible? Shouldn’t builders know to do things right, and check and test everything? The answer is that they simply can’t always check everything, and many builders have multiple projects going on. Smart builders actually hire me to inspect the houses they build BEFORE they put them on the market!
I am not an attorney, but have used and work with real estate attorneys. A good attorney should never tell you not to have a Home Inspection, and it is not true that you can’t ask for repairs or replacements based on anything found in the home inspection. With this in mind, be aware that you can always switch attorneys.
Home Inspectors CAN and are SUPPOSED TO inspect foundations, and other parts of the structure. Unfortunately, many home inspectors do not have the confidence, background, education or experience to evaluate things like foundation cracks, sagging floors or other defects. I DO have this experience and education. I have an engineering degree, and have also taken multiple state approved specialty courses in evaluation of structural defects. Such courses are available to any home inspector, so one does not have to have any engineering background in order to learn to evaluate foundations and structure. However, it helps, and if you have your Home Inspection with me, you will never have to call someone else for followup evaluation (which would cost you more) for foundation cracks.
The price for a home inspection can vary fairly significantly from inspector to inspector, and of course also with the size and type of house. There is no regulation of Home Inspection fees, so home inspectors can charge whatever they want (assuming they can get it). Our fees are not the very lowest, and are also not the highest you could pay. For example, for an average size 3-4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home, our fee range would be $600.00 - $650.00. This would typically include termite inspection and radon testing. Larger homes will typically be more, sometimes only a bit more, but for a very large home it could be significantly more. We feel our fees are reasonable and offer excellent value. We feel price should not be the main way you choose your home inspector. Saving $100.00 on the fee is not worth it. You need a good inspector, and the expense of missed items in an inspection is high.
It’s fine to use a real estate agent’s inspector recommendation, but before you do, check out the inspector. Talk to them. How much experience do they have? 1 year? 5 years? More? Is it a multiple inspector company, where you don’t know who you will get? Do they give you a form type “checklist” report, or is it a detailed written report, with clear language explaining everything found, and what to do about it? Also, will your inspector commit to working for YOU, and NOT your real estate agent? All Home Inspectors are SUPPOSED to perform unbiased inspections, reporting all conditions found, and not minimizing anything. This is required by law. Many do this, but unfortunately some home inspectors are too afraid of losing a real estate agent’s referrals, and end up not reporting everything honestly and completely. I get referrals from real estate agents, attorneys, previous clients, family members, advertising, internet search. Many sources. I am happy to get referrals from agents. I inspect thoroughly every time, and report everything honestly and completely. The best, most professional real estate agents accept this. Some agents are upset when I find too many defects. I cannot and do not consider this. I work for my clients best interests, not for their real estate agents.