What should I be aware of that the house inspector should be doing during the inspection of the house I am interested in buying?

Asked by Amy Sherman, Brooklyn, NY Mon Jan 28, 2013

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Tue Jan 29, 2013
Good afternoon Amy,

Typically your Home Inspection will alert you to problems in five key areas, and these key areas directly relate to the contract of sale for a NY area home purchase:

1. Foundation: sound and solid
2. Roof free of leaks
3. Plumbing working and leak-free
4. Heating system sufficient and operating
5. Electrical system sufficient and up to code

If there is a serious problem with any of these five items, typically the Seller has a responsibility under the terms of the contract of sale to repair the problem at their expense, not the Purchaser's expense. Sometimes a Purchaser will receive a credit at closing to repair one of these items (assuming the home and the defective issue has not compromised the Lender's appraisal). When the Purchaser receives a credit at closing, the amount of the credit is based upon legitimate estimates for repair and negotiations between the Attorneys representing each party.

Other items you discover are in need of repair/upgrade (i.e. diswasher not operating properly; air conditioner on second floor inoperable, etc.) can be negotiated for a repair credit or replacement at the Seller's expense. Again, these negotiations are handled by the Attorneys.

It is extremely RARE that a purchase price is drastically reduced due to repairs from a Home Inspection. Best to consult with your Attorney for more detailed information in this area.

If you don't already have a good real estate Attorney and you're shopping for homes, you need to reverse your process. First, get properly prequalified for mortgage financing by a Local Mortgage Banker. Second, line up your Attorney. Third, line up your Home Inspector. Fourth, line up a great local Realtor with personal experience in the area in which you'd like to buy.

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
Mobile: 516-582-9181
Office: 516-829-2900
Fax: 516-829-2944
PowerHouse Solutions, Inc.
185 Great Neck Rd, Suite 240
Great Neck NY 11021
Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Dept. of Financial Services

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Donna Kuehn, Agent, Danbury, CT
Mon Jan 28, 2013
The purpose of the home inspection is to inspect the home from top (roof) to bottom (foundation). He will be looking at the heating system, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning along with roof, attic, walls, visable insulation, floors, windows, ceilings, doors, basement, and the structure. This is a large investment for you so you need to be sure there are no surprises or additional costs that will come up after you buy the home. He will idntify the problems that need to be addressed and suggest maintanance and updates on others done the line. This will give you great comfort that you have made a good choice in your purchase.
0 votes
Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Mon Jan 28, 2013
Dear Amy:

First of all the inspector should be licensed in the State of New York. The inspector is supposed to thoroughly check the house up and down, inside and out to make sure there are no hidden problems with the condition of the house. The inspector will check all the mechanical systems, the roof, foundation and plumbing.

Some, but not all inspectors are also licensed to check for termites. If your inspector is not licensed to check for termites, then you would have a separate inspection for that. In addition, if you are concerned about lead based paint, you may have to hire a separate inspector for that as most regular inspectors are not licensed to check for lead based paint (that is an additional and separate type of license).

Your average inspection on a typical house in Brooklyn probably takes an hour or two. It is a good idea for you to be there with the inspector when the inspection takes place and pay close attention. In the end the inspector will give you a written report, but if you pay attention during the inspection, you will be better able to grasp the contents of the report.

The main thing you want to make sure of when the inspection is done are the big tickets items/expenses. things like the heating system, plumbing system, electrical system and roof. Another item that sometimes is overlooked is the waste line from the house. Most inspectors do not check the waste line for the house because it is a cumbersome task and they are not required to. The only way to really check a waste line is to have a plumber insert a special video camera type devise all the way down the waste line until it meets with the city sewer line. In my 20 years of selling homes, I have yet to see in inspector do a sewer line check like that. I have had buyers who are concerned about this hire a separate plumber to check it out. It will probably cost about $200-$300, but it is worth it because replacing a new sewer line usually will cost you $10,000 and up!

If you have further questions, please contact me direct. Good luck!

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
Email: MitchellSFeldman@aol.com
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Jason Sciula…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Mon Jan 28, 2013
Hi Amy,

You should be aware of all that the inspector is doing during the inspection. It would be a great idea for you to accompany the inspector and have him/her convey what conditions are found along the way. The purpose of an inspection is to tell you the condition of the house from top to bottom. Heating, electical, windows, outlets, plumbing, visable structure which can include foundation, surrounding exterior, roof and more. Since most sales are as is you simply want to know what you are buying. Once you have this overall idea you can buy the house with confidence that you reasonably know what you are getting.
An inspection gives you a 'to do' list of things that are not deal breakers but perhaps things you may want to address in the future. For example: The inspector may say that the caulk around the tube is cracking a bit with age so you may want to recaulk in time. Perhaps a recommendation will be made, by the inspector, to change an electrical outlet from a 2 to a 3-prong GFI (ground fault interuptor) outlet. When the home was built it may have been standard practice yet is better to upgrade.
Naturally, if there are major issues found you should discuss them with the seller. Houses should be free of leaks and all electric and plumbing/heating in working order.
I hope that the house you are interested works out for you.
-Doug Meyer, Realtor
Bergen Basin Realty
718 915-8003
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First Last, , 90002
Mon Jan 28, 2013
Follow the inspector around the house and ask questions. Pay special attention to the roofing, flashing, heating system, plumbing and electrical systems. These are the big money items. A loose floorboard is not good but it is not nearly such an expense.

Often these reports are filled with boilerplate language such as, "Plumbing system is 50 years old. The lifespan of plumbing is 60 years. Therefore buyer should plan on replacing all plumbing in 10 years." Such comments may not account for new plumbing the seller has already installed, or for condition of existing plumbing, which could be far worse than average and in need of immediate replacement.

So my advice is to pretend that you won't be receiving any written report (although of course you will), and take notes on whatever the inspector will tell you as he or she goes around the house.

Also--ask the inspector to flush all toilets and turn on water faucets. Most don't bother to do this and in my opinion they should. Some interesting findings are possible.

Karla Harby
Licensd Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
New York, NY
212 688 1000x146
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