Greater New Milford CT Real Estate Talk, The Home Inspection Primer
Second in my series of experts in real estate is Connecticut Home Inspector James Quarello of JRV Home Inspections, located in Wallingford, CT, JRV Home Inspections serves Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London counties in Connecticut. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jim as he has performed a few inspections for my buyers in New Milford, CT. He is thorough, professional and a pleasure to work with. Jim comes highly qualified, you can read all about Jim Quarello here at his blog.
As a Realtor® in the greater New Milford, CT area, I know the question my buyers ask first is how much does a typical home inspection cost?
The short answer is it depends. Most home inspectors price by house size. Some also consider the age, with older homes costing more, new construction somewhat less. For a typical smaller starter home (1100 sq. ft.) the price can range any where from $300 – $500. Most experienced, quality companies will fall some where in the middle.
It’s important for your clients to understand this price does not include ancillary services such as radon and water testing. Adding those tests can easily add hundreds of dollars to the cost of the inspection.
Another thing buyers worry about is that if the Realtor® gave them your name, you won’t find anything wrong with the house. I know I disagree with that, how would you respond to that?
This is a question I hear often. I will usually answer by saying something like, home inspection is my livelihood and I had to work long and hard to obtain a license. I will not “go easy on a house” and jeopardize my license just to keep an agent happy.
Uncle Bob the Builder said he would check the house for the buyers. Do you think that is a good idea?
NO!!! Many of the problems home inspectors find are done by Uncle Bob and assorted “professionals”. One important thing to remember is Connecticut contractors are not licensed meaning no training or apprenticeship is required to go into business. The exception is plumbers, electricians and HVAC professionals and even there I have found issues with work done by all of those trades.
What are you going to be checking for in a typical home inspection?
There are literally hundreds of items that get checked in the course of a typical home inspection. Starting with the exterior, the roof and chimney, the siding and trim, the grading and drainage, decks (a favorite Uncle Bob project) and porches.
Inside the house the attic, the rooms including a representative number of doors, windows and electrical receptacles. The bathrooms, kitchen and laundry, the foundation, heating system, plumbing and electrical.
This description is very brief and does not truly show the detail that each area mentioned, and some that were not, requires.
Do you take the buyer around with you when you are inspecting the home?
I tell the buyer they are welcome to follow me and ask questions, most seemed to get bored with that fairly quickly. After all I am working and focused on inspecting. What I normally do is bring the buyer back to an area after I have finished to go over any issues. I find this reinforces the information when they see it in the report.
How long does a typical home inspection take?
It depends on the many factors. Bigger homes take more time, as will a home with a lot of problems. Clients that ask a lot of questions will add to the length of the inspection, not that I’m complaining. I much prefer a curious client over a passive buyer. A typical inspection on a starter home should run about 2 hours or more.
If the buyer requests repairs be done prior to closing, should they have their inspector come back and check on the repairs? Do you recommend this for all repairs or just certain repairs?
If the client wants me to come back to check repairs I will, but there is a fee for my time. Personally I would rather see the client have the repairs done by a contractor of their choosing. The seller is likely going to find the cheapest company available, which is totally understandable, to do the work. I know every situation is different and I am generalizing.
There are certain repairs that will come up that should be done right away or before closing. Examples of these would be anything safety related or a problem that would adversely affect living in the home like a heating issue.
Do you recommend a recheck for certain repairs?
That again is completely up to the client. What ever makes them comfortable is fine with me.
How does your inspection for an FHA, VA loan product differ from a conventional loan product?
There is very little if any difference. I have seen companies that advertise they do FHA, VA, etc compliant inspections. In reality a standard home inspection should conform to those guidelines. In the past a termite inspection by an S licensed exterminator was required on all FHA transaction, but not very often today. The other difference which I find to be more prevalent or should I say still required is with water testing on wells.
For FHA, VA, etc. in addition to the basic water quality tests, a lead in water test is also required. I have never been able to determine if there is an age cut off for this requirement. Fortunately this test is relatively cheap ($30).
The other requirement is a well flow test. This test should be performed using a flow gauge with the data recorded and put into the home inspection report.
We all hear about Radon in the air, what is it, what can be done about it, and will the house ever be safe?
Radon is a radioactive gas produced from the decay of uranium. Radon has a very short half life (3.8 days) meaning it breaks down into simpler elements. As it breaks down it releases radioactive particles into the air. These particles can be breathed into the lungs where they can potentially cause damage.
The EPA has established a continuous exposure level of 4.0 pCi/L (pico Curries per Liter) as the action level at which remedial action is recommended.
One very important point to understand is this level is not a health standard. The number is based upon mitigation technology. In other words it’s a mechanical standard. Simply put, the higher the level, the longer the exposure the greater the risk. Smoking increases an individuals risk considerably.
So will the house ever be safe? The simple answer is yes. There is radon in all the air we breathe. A mitigation system in a home will often lower the level to near what is found in the outside air (0.4 pCi/L).
Why do you check for Radon in the well water?
For many years it seemed the protocol was to perform a radon in air test and use that result to determine if testing the well water for radon was necessary. This information is false. A high level of Radon in water will not show up in an air test. I can tell you from personal experience there were many times where I tested that the level of Radon in the air was well below the EPA action level. When the water results came back the levels were over the Connecticut action level (5000 pCi/L).
This brings up the action level for water. The EPA has not established a standard for Radon in water, but the Connecticut Department of Public Health has a standard as mentioned.
If there is radon in the water, can it be fixed? Will it be safe to drink the water if it is fixed?
Yes, but it is expensive. For lower levels, under 10,000 pCi/L, a carbon filtration system is installed. For higher levels a bubbler system is necessary. Bubbler systems cost around $4000.
What are some of the typical issues you find with well water. Are they fixable?
Bacterial contamination is by far and away the most common issues with well water. There are of course other physical properties that can be some what problematic such as high iron content or hardness. These problems are all fixable. With bacteria chlorinating the well is the cure, with hardness or iron a water treatment system is needed. Treatment systems require maintenance and thus do cost the homeowner money for up keep.
I would also add that a home buyer should educate themselves on home inspections before they need their inspection. Not all companies and inspectors provide the same level of service. DO NOT shop by price alone! Cheap companies almost without exception provide very poor inspections. Conversely the super expensive company may not be any better than the moderately priced inspector. The home buyer should be prepared to ask questions of each company they call in order to determine whom they feel will provide them with the best inspection for their dollar.
The other thing for the home buyers to keep in mind is the home inspection is a snap shot in time. There is no question that after the buyer lives in the house for a while other issues may pop up. A good inspector can help a buyer anticipate maintenance issues or potential problems that may crop up down the road. There is not a home inspector alive who can predict the future, but a good inspector can help a buyer understand what to expect from their home.
If you are looking to buy a home in the Greater New Milford, CT area, please give me a call at 203.460.1775, or visit my website and start your home search here!
Greater New Milford CT Real Estate Talk, The Home Inspection Primer
c Andrea Swiedler 2011
Originally posted at sellnewmilford.com