A very common question we get when talking to buyers who are scheduling a general home inspection is “What other services do you think I need?” The answer can depend on the age of the home, whether any remodeling has been done, and what specific concerns the buyer has with the home. The more information we have about the home, whether it has been vacant for a long time, or whether it was meticulously maintained by the homeowner, the better we can help suggest whether certain add-on services are recommended.
There are a couple of services we usually recommend with every inspection, especially to those who might be moving in from out of state and may not be familiar with our area. We’ll go through each service in this article, and help you decide what extra inspections you should realistically consider.
Radon Testing During A Home Inspection
Radon Testing in Colorado is important because it is known for its elevated levels of radon gas, due to the specific mineral content in the soils. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, but you can’t tell if a home has high radon levels unless you test for it.
If a home does test high for radon levels, then that is something that your agent can help negotiate, possibly for a credit or for a radon mitigation system.
During the test, the radon monitor is always set in the lowest living area of the home, even if it is an unfinished basement. These areas may be converted into bedrooms, office space, or a play area for the kids, so it is important to test at this location. It is in the lower parts of the home where the concentrations are highest.
Whether a home has a basement, crawlspace, or is on a slab, it should still be tested for radon, according to the EPA. If a home has a radon mitigation system, it’s always good to check when the last test was performed.
We will check to make sure the system appears to be in working condition during the home inspection, but the only way to know that the radon gas is truly mitigated is to perform a radon test.
When Should I Get A Sewer Scope Test?
A Sewer Scope is another important service that is suggested, particularly for single-family homes and townhomes, where the owner is responsible for the condition of the line from the home to the city’s or HOA’s main sewer line.
While we believe this is one of the most important add-on inspections for all properties due to the high cost of repair, it is even more important for older homes.
Many older homes will have original sewer lines made from clay or cast iron piping. Older pipes are more prone to issues like root intrusion, cracking, and offsets than newer PVC lines. We highly recommend a sewer scope on these types of lines.
What about septic systems? Many people tell us that they don’t need a sewer scope because the property is on a septic system. However, the main sewer line from the home to the septic tank is still susceptible to the same issues as a line from a home to a public sewer pipe and it should be checked.
Agents and buyers need to ensure that the septic tank itself and the rest of the septic system are properly inspected by a qualified septic servicer as well.
Problems with a sewer line can be very costly to repair, so it is always a good idea to have an independent and unbiased scope of the line. What is out of sight should not be out of mind!
Water Conscious Or Buying A Home With A Recent Water Event?
For properties that have had a “water event” or for clients with sensitivities to mold allergies, the Infrared (I/R) Scan service is a great way to help the inspector find hidden moisture concerns. An infrared camera reads the surface temperatures and moisture will show itself as cooler compared to the surrounding areas.
The camera cannot “see” behind the walls as some might think, but it can help the inspector focus on an area of concern, and recommend repair and mitigation of an area if active moisture is found.
Mold Air Sample Testing can further help to quantify whether there are elevated levels of mold spores in the home. A typical test consists of taking a minimum of 3 air samples. One is taken outside as a control sample, and then two more are taking on the inside of the home.
The samples are then sent to a specialized laboratory, where the samples are analyzed for fungal types and levels. The results are sent back to the buyer the next business day, in an easy-to-understand report.
While these tests can be beneficial during any home inspection, we recommend them to buyers with allergies or mold sensitivity, or in homes where water issues may have been disclosed.
Hate Pests? We do Too!
For those who are particularly concerned about wood-destroying insects, rodent intrusion, and other critters in the home, a Pest Inspection might be a good option to consider.
The pest inspection is performed by a specialist who follows the National Pest Management Association guidelines. This inspection includes a visual review of the entire home including the structure and foundation where any evidence of pests will be documented.
Observations and recommendations will be made as to how they might be entering the home, and how best to address any future entry or intrusion.
If a home is older, if pest issues have been disclosed, if the home is built in a high humidity area, or if the home is a mountain home in Colorado, we will typically recommend this inspection.
Concerned About Energy Consumption?
If you’re an energy efficiency geek, or just want to save on your future energy bills, an Energy Checkwill help to identify several ways to improve your future home’s comfort and efficiency.
During an Energy Check, insulation levels will be checked in the attic, which is one of the greatest sources of heat loss in a home, in addition to the crawlspace or basement.
An I/R camera is also used to help find voids of insulation in the walls and ceilings. The HVAC system, and other components of the mechanical systems are also assessed for their energy efficiencies, in addition to the windows.
Appliances and lighting fixtures are reviewed as well, with recommendations made for possible improvements.
An Energy Check provides information to a future home owner, and is primarily information only for future reference. Many of these items may not be negotiable in the purchase of a home.
So should you order an Energy-Check with your inspection? Many newer homes have been built to higher energy-efficiency standards per the building codes of a particular area. However, some of the older homes that are inspected were built when energy-efficiency was not fully appreciated for either the homeowners or the planet!
Generally, you will receive the most benefit from this in older homes pre-1990s or if you are looking to make improvements.
What About My Drinking Water?
Finally, a Water Quality Test is a test that is becoming more popular as well. Everyone wants to know that the water they are drinking does not contain dangerous substances, but also that it doesn’t put unseemly spots on your dishes.
Even though the public source of the water is tested regularly, there may be older pipes through which the water runs that may contaminate it, resulting in poor quality water at the tap.
We utilize state-of-the-art equipment approved by the EPA, which provides immediate results. The primary components that are tested include lead, copper, chlorine levels, hardness, pH, alkalinity, and total dissolved solids (TDS).
The age of the home and age of the neighborhood can help you decide if this test is right for you. Older homes, typically built before 1950 may have been built with some lead supply pipes that have yet to be removed. While we try to find these during the inspection, there may be small sections that are not visible.
Even if the house is brand new, it may be built in an older neighborhood. This increases the likelihood that there are lead supply pipes running to the lot itself. Any house built in an older neighborhood is a good candidate for this test.
When In Doubt, Give Us A Call.
Hopefully this article helps you decide which add-on services you should consider. When making a large purchase, like a new home, the more information you have the better.
If you are still unsure about which services to order with your home inspection, visit us online or contact us and our customer service team can help look up the home and give you recommendations.
We hope to hear from you soon on your next Colorado home inspection.
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Ann Scott is Co-Owner and Sr. Advisor at Scott Home Inspection. She has worked in the company since founded in 2006 and enjoys helping clients and agents with their home inspection needs. She enjoys riding her horse, and working on outside projects around the family's 18-acre property!