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Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Should I Have a Home Inspection?

Let me start this off by saying that I am not at all interested in writing a 'Scare Article'. I do not want to scare you into having a Home Inspection; instead I am hoping to point out some of the main strengths or advantages that an experienced, professional Home Inspector brings to the table. I bought my home 7 years ago, before I was a Home Inspector. My house was a foreclosure, and, in Texas, foreclosures are bought 'as is' so I did not see any reason to have it inspected, but the truth is an inspection would have allowed me to negotiate a much lower price on the sale. I could list literally thousands of reasons to have a professional home inspection, but I am going to keep this real simple and tell you the three most obvious reasons I can think of.

A Home Inspector Knows How to Evaluate Your Foundation

You are probably aware tha
t we have expansive clay soil in the DFW area (at least you are now). The truth is that a large percentage of homes in the area will experience some degree of settlement and develop some interior and exterior cracks. With time, a Home Inspector comes to realize that these cracks, along with many other visual factors, tell a story of how the foundation is performing. After a full inspection is performed, your inspector will give you his professional opinion and let you know if he or she thinks your home is settling in a typical manner or if there is a more serious failure in the performance of the system. He will tell you all the things he sees and how those signs fit together to provide a strong indication of the strength or weakness of your new home's foundation. It is important to understand that Home Inspectors are not Structural Engineers, but we do have the knowledge and experience to let you know if you need to call an engineer.

A Home Inspector Will Remove Your Electrical Panel and More
I can't tell you how many times I've removed an electrical panel to discover serious deficiencies or legitimate safety hazards inside. Electricians are generally a pretty professional bunch, but it is not always an electrician who l
ast worked on the system. Home owners and handymen often feel they are qualified when they simple aren't. Because pictures are worth a thousand words, let me show you a few pictures so I can save a few thousand words. All of these issues were seen in the last 6 months.

This house was in Mansfield, TX. It was less than 5 years old and it was a beautiful home. While on the roof and in the attic, I discovered a leak that was traveling down into the garage wall. When I removed the electrical panel, this is what I saw. Everything green in this picture is copper. Now I know what you're thinking, 'Copper isn't green!' and you're right! The roofing leak was allowing water into the wall near the panel and it had caused the copper to oxidize. This is certainly not the safest thing I've seen this year, and if no inspector had been hired, the homeowner would have never known that it was there. Based on the findings at inspection, these buyers were aware of the issue and the probable cause. They knew they needed to call an electrician and at least determine the price of repairing the issue so that they could be sure the home was still within their price range, given the necessary repairs.

When I removed this panel I found, among other things, this burned neutral wire. You can also see a little bit of oxidation at the end of the wire, but imagine what was going on with the wire that caused it to burn so severely! It was only a matter of time before it started a fire. There were other serious issues in this panel, including another burned wire that was exposed and actually sparked during the inspection. Again, this was a beautiful home that was in very good condition otherwise. Without a professional inspection, these fire-safety issues would not have been identified.
In addition to removing the panel cover and co
nfirming that all items are compatible and appropriately sized, an inspector will test every single plug in the home along with every light and fan.

A Home Inspector Will be on Your Roof and in Your Attic
I know this one seems a little simple, but are you planning on visiting these two exotic locations yourself before buying the
house? I know I didn't, but take a look at some of the things we've found during the last few months.
Any home buyer would probably know that this roof is in bad shape, but only if you took a ladder and climbed up for yourself. Aside from the obvious, this roof had three layers of shingles and was certainly not insurable. These shingles were literally baked. The attic was not properly ventilated and this condition was likely to re-occur unless the ventilation issue was addressed. The potential buyer had been to the home four times and was unaware of this issue.
When an inspector enters the attic there are a lot of factors to consider in addition to the unbearable heat. We are looking at structure issues, roofing and decking issues, and ventilation issues, which are more important than most buyers realize. There are actually quite a few plumbing and electrical issues to inspect as well. I find exposed electrical connections all the time. I often see broken or incomplete plumbing ventilation. If the AC is in the attic, I will regularly see evidence of previous issues or units without safety pans below them. If your new home has gas, then much of the exhaust ventilation travels through the attic, and clearances are critical. I see disconnected exhaust ducts that are spilling toxic fumes into the attic fairly regularly.

Inspectors do not find every issue in the house. In fact, I always tell my clients that my goal is to find at least 90% of the issues, which will include 100% of the major visible issues. The fact is, I will spend over three hours thoroughly inspecting your new home, but you are eventually going to live there for 24 hours a day, and you will invariably discover additional issues. The bottom line is that Home Inspectors will be going to places in the home that you aren't going to look, and we are going to those places with a trained eye, a strong education, and a wealth of experience. Our job is to uncover the true condition of the home, and communicate that information to you in a way that you can understand. These days, anything we find in a home can be repaired. The question is do you want to find out what needs to be repaired before or after you buy the house?

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