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Home Inspection Tips – Radon Testing For Sellers and Buyers

A home inspection is important whether you’re buying or selling a home. Where does radon testing fit into the picture?

Let’s look first at considerations from a home seller’s perspective. If your inspector or another qualified professional has already tested your home for radon, the buyer wants assurance the testing was done correctly. She may ask that testing be redone if certain conditions aren’t met.

Did testing comply with the EPA radon checklist or your state’s protocol? Was testing done within the past two years? Have you made any renovations on your home since testing was done? Does your prospective buyer want to live in a basement or level lower than where testing was done?

She may also ask for a new test if your state or local government requires the disclosure of radon information to buyers and that disclosure hasn’t been made.

If you haven’t yet had your home tested for radon, have it done as soon as possible. Test in the lowest level of the home that can be regularly occupied. Test in an area such as a basement or playroom area if that area could be used by your buyer.

If you do the radon test yourself, carefully follow the testing protocol for your area or EPA’s Radon Testing Checklist. If you hire a contractor to test your home, you’ll protect yourself by hiring a qualified individual or company.

How do you find a qualified professional to do the testing? Ask your home inspector. Also, your state should have an office that deals with radon issues. They may be able to provide you with a list of testers in your area. Many states require radon professionals to be licensed, certified, or registered.

If your state doesn’t regulate radon related services, ask your home inspector or a reliable contractor if he holds a license, or a proficiency or certification credential. Has he completed training in measuring radon and properly dealing with radon issues? You may also want to contact the American Society of Home Inspectors, the National Association of Home Inspectors, or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin. What if you’re buying a home? The EPA says if you are thinking of buying a home, you can choose to accept an earlier test result from the seller. Or you can ask the seller for a new test to be done by a qualified radon tester.

Before you accept the seller’s test results, ask a few questions. What did previous tests show? Who did the actual testing? Where in the home was the previous testing done? Was it in the level in which you plan to live? Have any changes been made to the home since it was tested? For example, have there been any alterations to the heating and cooling systems?

If you accept the seller’s test results, be sure the test complied with the EPA checklist or relevant state protocols. If you think a new test is needed, discuss it with the seller as soon as possible. If you decide to use a qualified radon tester to have it retested yourself, contact your state radon office for a copy of their approved list of radon testing individuals and companies.

If the seller hasn’t had the home tested, ask that it be done as soon as possible. Consider including radon testing provisions in the contract. Note where in the home the testing will be done and who will do the testing. Also note the type of test to be done and when it will be done. How will the seller and buyer share the test results? Who pays for the cost of testing?

You’ll want to be sure radon testing is done on the level you intend to occupy, whether it’s the first floor or basement area. If you decide to finish or renovate an unfinished area after you buy the home, a radon test should be taken before starting the project and again after the project is finished. Generally, it’s less expensive to install a radon-reduction system before (or during) renovations rather than afterward.

To view more complete information on radon testing from the Environmental Protection agency, go to http://www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html.

Home Inspection 101 For The Home Buyer

Why is the home inspector the buyer’s best friend? In a real estate transaction, there are many parties involved with different interests. The buyer, the seller, the real estate agent, the mortgage broker, the appraiser, the attorney, the title company, the insurance company and the home inspector. The inspector and the buyer’s attorney are the buyer’s best friend because they help protect the buyer’s interests. A home inspector is hired by the buyer most often to inspect the house he/she is buying to offer a professional and unbiased report on the condition of the house. So what is at stake here for the buyer? The money he is going to pay for the house as well as the future money he is going to pay for the house plus his and his family’s health

How does they buyer choose a home inspector? What are the fees associated with a home inspection? Since a home inspection is so important, a buyer should choose a inspector carefully. A buyer should not choose a inspector just based on the fee he charges. Ask questions about what he is going to inspect and how long his inspections take and how quick his report will be ready. There are home inspectors who charge $100 to $150 flat fee inspections, but whose inspection takes 1/2 hour to 1 hour and those inspections are not as accurate or has the quality as those inspections which require more time and equipment. A good inspection of a house can take 3 to 4 hours at a fee of $500 dollars. This fee is minuscule compared to the price of the house.

When should a buyer get a inspection done? Never use the home inspector your real estate agent refer to you even if the agent represents the buyer. This is obvious because the success of the transaction hinges on the outcome of the inspection. Nor use the home inspection an attorney refers you. To get the most unbiased home inspector, pick one who is not related to the other parties of the transaction. You should get the inspection done before you go into contract.

When should a seller get a inspection done? A seller should get a inspection done before he list his home for sale with a real estate agent.

What does a home inspector inspect? A general home inspection is defined by different home inspection organizations. One of the largest home inspection organizations is NACHI. Membership with one of the home inspection organizations is a good sign the inspector is following some standards of practice when he does his inspections. Click on this link to view the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.

How does a inspection help the home buyer save money? The answer is an inspection will most likely reveal a defect with the house you are buying that would cost some money to fix in the future if you are going to buy the house. You can save some money here by bringing up all the defects the inspection report reveals up to the negotiation process before you sign the contract, make the earnest money deposit, or the deposit.

Home Inspection: Confirming Accessibility Requirements

Dear Home Seller,

Crawl spaces, attics, furnaces, electric panels… these are a few of the many places where a conscientious home inspector needs to venture, in order to perform a complete and accurate assessment of your house.

Please have your stairwell tidy and free of debris and obstructions, and leave plenty of clearance around the garage door, electrical panel and furnace. If your attic hatch is in a closet, we need to have clothing and other articles removed from the upper shelves, to afford access using a step ladder.

If you have a crawlspace under the house, and the hatch is not readily accessible, we ask that you move any furniture or other items away from this area, and if necessary, roll back the floor coverings to expose the hatch, just prior to the inspection.

No house is perfect, and a home inspection is not intended to identify every little blemish or minute imperfection – however, the conscientious home inspector tries to discover if there are major defects in a home that the purchaser, and perhaps no one else, is aware of – and should also point out the positive aspects of the house.

In the vast majority of cases, we find nothing remarkable, or nothing to criticize, in crawl spaces; however If there is no access to your crawl space, we may not be able to provide your Purchaser with any relevant information about important components, such as foundation walls, floor structure, electrical wiring and the main plumbing system.

Try to understand the purchaser’s point of view… “inaccessible” can mean “unassessable” and therefore may leave a big question mark in the purchaser’s mind.

How would you feel if you were about to make the greatest purchase of your life, and were not given the opportunity to view one of the largest, most important component parts of that purchase?

And remember, you ARE marketing your house – you probably wouldn’t try to sell your car without letting prospective buyers look under the hood. It just makes good sense, to have all areas accessible, so that your purchaser can feel comfortable in the knowledge that there won’t be any unwelcome surprises later on.

Sincerely,

The Home Inspector

To give your home a competitive edge when it’s time to sell, make sure it is in good physical condition. This not only makes your house more attractive and desirable, it also simplifies or eliminates the negotiation process when the time comes for the buyer’s pre-purchase inspection.

To identify which components are most in need of repair, many sellers now enlist the services of a professional home inspector before putting up the FOR SALE sign.