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Home Inspections: FAQs

  1. What's a home inspection?
  2. Can anyone perform a home inspection?
  3. Why should I have the home inspected?
  4. Do I need a home inspection?
  5. How do I request a home inspection and who will pay for it?
  6. Should I be present when the home inspection is performed?
  7. If following the home inspection, the seller repairs an item found in the home inspection, may I have the Home Inspector perform a "Re-inspection"?
  8. What other type of inspections do I really need to have to find out about the condition of the property?

What's a home inspection?

A home inspection is when a paid professional inspector -- often a contractor or an engineer -- inspects the home, searching for defects or other problems that might plague the owner later on. They usually represent the buyer and or paid by the buyer. The inspection usually takes place after a purchase contract between buyer and seller has been signed.

Can anyone perform a home inspection?

No. Only persons licensed by the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board are permitted to perform home inspections for compensation. To qualify for a licensure, they must satisfy certain education al and experience requirements and pass a state licensing examination. Their inspections must be conducted in accordance to the Board's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Why should I have the home inspected?

Most home buyers lack the knowledge, skill and emotional detachment needed to inspect homes themselves. By using the services of a licensed Home Inspector, they can gain a better understanding of the condition of the property, especially whether any items do not "function as intended" or "adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling" or "warrant further investigation" by a person who specializes in the item in question.

Do I need a home inspection?

Yes. Buying a home "as is" is a risky proposition. Major repairs on homes can amount to thousands of dollars. Plumbing, electrical and roof problems represent significant and complex systems that are expensive to fix.

How do I request a home inspection and who will pay for it?

You can arrange for the home inspection or ask your real estate agent to assist you. Unless you otherwise agree, you will be responsible for payment of the home inspection and any subsequent inspections. If the inspection is to be performed after you have signed the purchase contract, be sure to schedule the inspection as soon as possible to allow adequate time for any repairs to be performed.

Should I be present when the home inspection is performed?

Whenever possible, you should be present. The home inspector can review with you the results of the inspection and point out any problems found. Usually the inspection of the home can be completed in two to three hours, depending on the size and age of the dwelling. The home inspector must give you a written report of the home inspection within three business days after the inspection is performed. The home inspector may only give it to you and may not share it with other persons without your permission.

If following the home inspection, the seller repairs an item found in the home inspection, may I have the Home Inspector perform a "Re-inspection"?

Yes. Some repairs may not be as straightforward as they may seem. The inspector may be able to help you evaluate the repair, but you should be aware that the re-inspection is not a warranty of the repairs that have been made. Some Home Inspectors charge a fee for re-inspections.

What other type of inspections do I really need to have to find out about the condition of the property?

A number of inspections are highly recommended. The most important inspections are:

  • Wood Destroying Insect Inspection: Have a licensed pest control operator perform a pest inspection prior to closing. It should reveal evidence of wood-destroying insects, if an, that could adversely affect the structure.
  • Survey; A survey provides accurate measurements of the property: its precise total area; the location of buildings and other improvements to the property; and any encroachments, easements an possible setback violations. You are typically responsible for paying for the survey. Examine the survey prior to closing to make sure the acreage and other conditions of the property match what you were told by the seller or real estate agents and what is shown in the purchase contract. You should also be aware that the title insurance company may exclude from coverage problems shown on the survey which are not resolved before closing.
  • Wells and Sewage Disposal Systems: If you a buying a property served by either a well or a septic system, you should have them inspected prior to closing. A well inspection and separate water test should be done to determine whether there is an adequate amount of water and water pressure fro the property and if there are any harmful contaminants in the water. An examination of the septic system should determine if it is adequate to support the property and is properly performing. Repairs to these systems can be very expensive.
  • Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that can be found in homes all over the United States. Any home can have a radon problem, regardless of its age or condition. Therefore, you should have the property tested for radon to make sure that any detectable radon is at or below EPA's guidelines for an "acceptable" level.