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Suzanne Norris' Blog

By Suzanne Norris | Broker in Phoenixville, PA


As Real Estate practitioners in the State of Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have Act 114, The Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law.  The Home Inspection Law applies to “residential real estate transfers,” defined as a sale, exchange, installment sales contract, lease with an option to buy, grant or other transfer of an interest in real property where not more than four residential dwelling units are involved.  A home inspector is defined as an individual who performs a home inspection!  Act 114 requires that home inspectors be a member of a National Home Inspection Organization, complete or participate in more than 100 home inspections and pass an examination that tests their knowledge of the proper procedures for conducting a home inspection, comply with a code of conduct, and attend continuing professional education classes as an ongoing condition of membership. Home inspections can also be performed by a properly licensed or registered engineer or architect.


So, the bottom line is:  there are many home inspection companies to pick from.  Sometimes a buyer will rely on a friend for a recommendation.  Maybe this is not their first home purchase and they were happy with the home inspector who covered their first sale so they are happy to use the same one.  Some Realtors will give a buyer a few different names to call. As a Realtor for the past 29 years, I cannot even count how many home inspections I have attended.  Some of them were so impressive that I made sure to get a business card from that particular inspector to add to my preferred list of inspectors.  Some of them were so mediocre that I felt that I could have done a better inspection myself!  Keeping in mind that my client made the choice of the inspector, I just let the inspector do his job.


My advice to my buyers is to ask the home inspector some basic, but important, questions:


1.    Are you a member in good standing of a professional inspectors organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors?

2.    How long will the inspection take?

3.    How much will the inspection cost?

4.    Do you have references?

5.    Do you carry Errors and Omissions Insurance?

6.    Do you provide a written report?

7.    Do you take color pictures of problem areas?

8.    Does the report include estimates of repair costs?


A typical inspection includes:


·    Roof, vents, flashings, and trim.

·    Gutters and downspouts.

·    Skylight, chimney and other roof penetrations.

·    Decks, steps, porches, walkways, patiosand railings.

·    Grading and drainage.

·    Basement, foundation and crawlspaces.

·    Water penetration and foundation movement.

·    Heating systems.

·    Cooling systems.

·    Main water shut off valves.

·    Water heating system.

·    Interior plumbing fixtures and faucets.

·    Drainage sump pumps with accessible floats

·    Electrical service line and meter box

·    Main disconnect and service amperage.

·    Electrical panels, breakers and fuses.

·    Grounding and bonding.

·    Fireplace damper door and hearth.

·    Insulation and ventilation.

·    Garage doors, safety sensors, and openers

·    Fences.

·    All the components of the kitchen.




Of course, there are some things that an inspector cannot inspect, even though he or she might comment on something he observes that might be a problem.  The inspector, in this situation, would recommend that a professional do a formal inspection.  Some exclusions are:


· Wood-destroying insects

· Underground tanks

· Wells

· Septic systems

· Swimming pools and Spas

· Alarm systems

· Toxic chemicals & environmental hazards (Radon)

· Play ground equipment and tennis courts

Even though, by law, the home inspector cannot express the exact cost of 

A repair -  either orally or in writing – he can give a range of costs, as long as he also provides the source of this range.  The home inspector should also recommend that the parties consider obtaining an estimate from a contractor who performs the type of repair involved.


What if the home inspection report reveals problems?  Finding problems in the home you are trying to purchase does not necessarily mean you should not buy the house.  Most Buyers and Sellers successfully negotiate home inspection issues.  The Part of the Agreement of Sale covering inspections will have a contingency time frame and within that time frame, inspections must be completed, the report received, at which time the Buyer will:

1.    Accept the property

2.    Terminate the Agreement, or

3.    Submit a written corrective proposal to the Sellers


The home inspection report is meant to be used by the Buyers as one more tool to utilize in the purchase of what very well may be the largest investment of your life.  The report will not focus entirely on repairs but will point out the positive aspects of the home, including ongoing maintenance required to keep your home in excellent condition.


A wise man once said: “Every man’s home is his castle”.  Let’s help our Buyers feel that way for many, many years.



Suzanne has been a Realtor for the past 29 years.  She is a member of the Suburban West Realtors Association, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors and National Association of Realtors and is very active in the Phoenixville Community.  She is an owner of Century 21 Norris-Valley Forge in Phoenixville, PA


Suzanne V. Norris

Century 21 Norris-Valley Forge

18 Nutt Road

Phoenixville, PA  19460

610-933-8600 ext. 14


Website: Phoenixville Real Estate

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