Understand Your Inspection

You’re purchasing a new home. In today’s real estate market that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. With the large percentage of bank owned and foreclosed homes in the Las Vegas area, it’s an excellent time to get a good home at a great price. Regardless of the age, condition, or financing of your new home, the question will come to mind, “Should I get a Professional Home Inspection?”

Before you can answer that question, you should understand what a professional home inspection consists of, and what benefits it can have for you, the home buyer.

In Nevada, professional home inspections fall under the Structural Inspection category, and are licensed and controlled by The Real Estate Division of Nevada. All home inspectors must be licensed with the state. Not all states require licensing, however, it allows control over training and competency of the home inspectors, to assure that the home buyers have an inspection professional, trained to perform at a measureable pre-determined standard.

A professional home inspection is a complete system by system and room by room, visual and functional inspection of everything on the property and dwellings. The inspection report must be presented in a written format. The licensed structural inspector, or home inspector, is responsible to visually inspect and functionally test all aspects of the home and property.

This differs from a “walk-through” inspection, which is a glance of the condition of the home at the time of the closing. Many home buyers feel confident doing a walk-through to discover things in the home that need repaired, but a professional inspection is more than a simple walk-through. It’s not enough to discover a problem in the home. Understanding the problem, why it is significant, and how to proceed is the difference between a professional home and a walk-through.

In addition, a professional home inspection includes areas of the home a typical buyer would never see, including roofs, crawlspaces and attics. Knowledge of structural concepts and design is a requirement for professional home inspections. Structural concerns are among the most feared issues in homes. The second largest fear is the presence of mold, or other water (leaks) concerns.

New Construction Homes
As a former Quality Assurance Inspector for new home builders, I should inform you that buying a new home does not guarantee that you will not have problems. Many problems are “hidden” in the walls and structure of a home and may not surface for years. Further, there are no guarantees that the builder will still be in business, or be willing to repair a problem outside of warranty. A new home warranty will protect you to a limited degree, but only if the problem is discovered within the warranty period.

Private Seller Homes
Private seller homes can also have hidden issues, especially in this difficult market. A motivated or desperate seller, who does not have the funds to make repairs prior to selling, may deliberately hide or conceal defects that they feel

could affect the sale of the home. In addition, items which should be disclosed by the seller, such as moisture intrusion or mold, may be concealed from potential buyers. A thorough inspection can help discover these “hidden” issues, informing the buyers of any problems BEFORE the final decision to purchase. This allows an educated decision on the home, with prior knowledge of problems, concerns, and issues.

Foreclosed Homes
What about hidden damage? Foreclosed homes can be beautiful, but they can also have a large amount of hidden damage. It has been my experience that foreclosed homes can be used to vent the anger of the former owners. I have seen plaster and concrete poured into drains, water damage from intentional plumbing and drain sabotage, missing components (including water heaters and HVAC units), stolen appliances, and even stolen copper wiring from attics. On occasion, lenders have made allowances for hidden damage. This is especially true when the hidden damage could involve safety or health concerns.

You need to know what to look for to identify this type of intentional home damage. This is where the expertise and experience of a professional home inspector comes into play. We are trained to identify damage concerns and disclose them to you, the buyer, so you know the exact condition of your new home at the time of the inspection, and before the final decision to buy at a specific price has been made.

Your financial institution may not loan on a home with water leaks or active mold, so discovering the presence of mold or moisture damage is an important part of any professional inspection. Discovery of the mold or moisture is only the tip of the problem. Where is the source, how much damage is there, and what do you do next? A professional home inspector addresses each of these concerns and questions.

Building Codes
Codes are generally written to protect us from safety and health concerns. Professional home inspectors must be sensitive to safety and health issues. This includes fire safety, electrical safety, and health and security concerns. A simple example would be a sliding glass entry door that is installed backwards, which would allow anyone to simply lift the door off the track from the outside and gain entry into the home. Complicated concerns, such as improper or outdated wiring in the home, can constitute a fire hazard. Depending on the age of the home, the codes may be completely outdated, or there may not have been building codes in place at the time the home was built. You, as a home buyer, need to know if your home is safe.

Wiring concerns can be a problem in older homes, as wiring codes, methods and materials have changed many times over the years. Ungrounded electrical outlets were considered normal years ago, whereas today they are a fire hazard. Cloth wrapped wiring was once used, but that same wiring cloth insulation deteriorates over the years, allowing exposed wires to arc in the walls, causing home fires. Inspection of the wiring, type of wires, electrical panels, breakers, grounding, arc fault and GFCI circuitry are all part of our professional home inspection service. Recently rodent activity was discovered inside the main electrical panel, where a mouse had been chewing on the wiring insulation. This can lead to a mouse BBQ and a panel fire! The mouse gained entry into the panel from an uncapped panel opening behind the wires leading to the interior of the walls. It gained into the walls from openings in the stucco on the exterior at unsealed wall penetrations. All these issues were discovered during the course of the normal home inspection.

Scorpions were discovered during a home inspection of a foreclosed home in North Las Vegas earlier this year. They were reported in the inspection report…complete with color photos, and a recommendation for a pest control professional to remove them. Unfortunately, pest control was not performed, and the buyer’s wife was stung, spending several tense hours in the emergency department. Any insect, rodent, or reptile activity is noted and reported. Termites and termite damage (yes, we have them in Nevada) are also part of the inspection, as are contributing conditions that could attract termites during a swarm. If termite activity or their damage is identified, an additional evaluation by a termite pest inspector is recommended.

Bees and wasps are discovered at approximately ten percent of homes. Some have built nests inside the home walls, and even inside electrical panels or chimneys. They are attracted to the warmth and buzzing associated with electrical main panels. Since a large segment of society has allergies to bee stings, which can result in Anaphylactic Shock and even death, it is important to identify this type of activity. Then corrective measures can be implemented for health safety. This is all included in a typical, professional home inspection.

Inspection Reporting
A professional home inspection is only half of the process. The inspection information needs to be reported in the Professional Home Inspection Report.

There are numerous types of inspection reports available. Our experience and desire to be on the cutting technological edge has guided us toward a computer-generated, narrative-based inspection report, complete with digital photography. The completed inspection report is emailed within 24 hours of the inspection via email.

Our reports include color-coded typography to help identify the severity of problems discovered during the inspection. Red ink is used to identify all Safety concerns. Blue ink identifies Maintenance and Cosmetic issues. Green ink indicates Functional items, and Black ink is for all Informational comments. This way, the home buyer can tell at a glance which items are most important to the purchase.

Photography is an important component, and numerous photos are included in the reports. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. Color photos demonstrate and describe the inspection process, with clarity that makes it easy to identify and understand. The problems are explained in detail, the photos are captioned, with recommendations for future actions provided.

Upon completion of the inspection, and while still at the inspection location, the buyer(s) will be provided with a verbal report of all problems found during the inspection process. Each issue will be explained thoroughly, and each photo will be previewed full screen on the inspector’s computer. All questions and concerns will be addressed and explained to your understanding. In short, the buyer will be aware of any and all issues that could affect the value of the home.

As you can see, the professional home inspection process is both detailed and complete. All questions are answered, and all conditions explored and explained. The peace of mind obtained by having the home professionally inspected is well worth the additional cost.