I thought it was inspected by the municipality and/or the state? Or, the builder has a great reputation.
There is a false assumption with new homes that "new" means "perfect." The consequences of this erroneous belief are that most new homes are purchased without an adequate final inspection and there is also a possibility that some inspections were skipped over. Construction defects often remain undiscovered, until a later date-typically when the Homeowner goes to sell. Building inspections are performed in various stages of construction; these components are inspected and passed and usually are never inspected again. If any alterations take place with the inspected component, such as when the plumbing system is added after the framing, it will probably not be detected. The purpose of the Home Inspection is not to substitute for municipal, state and/or building inspections, but to enhance the inspection process.
The average inspection is between 3 to 4 hours (or longer); this may vary due to the style or components of the house or the condition of the house. The variables to the length of the inspection are due to size of the home, type, age and overall conditions. Age is a main factor, because older houses are more challenging to inspect than newer ones; also, if the house has been poorly maintained it is more difficult to inspect all components. A large rambler, with a crawl space, will probably take longer than a small split-level home (no crawl space). Other factors may include remodeling and additions to the home, non-professional workmanship and not having inspections and permits for alterations to the house.
Note: Home Inspections that last 1 to 1-1/2 hours should be treated with skepticism; there are too many components in the average home for all areas to be properly inspected in such a short time.
The inspection should be booked as soon after the signing of the purchase contract as possible. Good inspectors are usually booked several days in advance and waiting too long to call will limit your choices. We recommend giving the Inspector at least 48-72 hours notice. Sometimes it’s necessary to pre-book inspections, even without a purchase contract, especially when the market is in high gear.
In our real estate market, most of the home inspection prices are based on square footage on the house, with some variances. The price of the home inspection may correspond to the experience of the inspector (but not in all cases). But this should not be the main factor for deciding which inspector or company to use. Experience and qualifications of the inspector should be the deciding factor.
- Gutters leaking during raining periods: leaks at joints and outlets, overflowing gutters from being dirty and clogged
- “Homeowner/Handyman” electrical work in the house: quick fast jobs that were installed poorly or the conversion of outlets/switches and fixtures that are improperly installed
- Wood-soil contact to the exterior wall siding/cladding: landscaping bark added to the house to sell and make it look more appealing (only to have the inspector advise you to remove it.)
- Plumbing leaks in hidden areas of the home, such as under sinks or in the crawl space. (No one wants to go into the crawl space)
- Rodent issues in the home, located in the attic spaces or crawl space sub-area. This is extremely common in the Puget Sound area and no houses are immune. This could be a minor issue or a significant problem in some cases and can be very costly
- Pressure washing the roof- excessively; while attempting to remove the moss, leaves, needles and debris, shingles roofs are being damaged from aggressive pressure washing. Granules are removed, gouging into the shingles, loosening the shingles (making them prone to wind damage). This will shorten the life expectancy of the roofing material or destroy it, requiring replacement
Asbestos is a mineral fiber. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
How can asbestos affect my health?
From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease.
Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.
Where can I find asbestos and when can it be a problem?
Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos.
Common products that may have been made with asbestos include insulation, soundproofing, decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings, hot water and steam pipes, and furnace ducts.
What should be done about asbestos in the home?
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic! Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone, since material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs.
If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed.
Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.
The federal government has training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also have or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area.
For more information, see the EPA's Asbestos Information Resources. The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. In general, the older a home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.
The most common sources of household lead are:
- Paint- The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978, but homes built before this time may have used lead paint.
- Dust- Household dust can be contaminated with lead from paint, as can the soil around a house whose exterior was painted with lead paint.
- Drinking water- Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder.
Can lead cause health problems?
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and headaches.
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.
What should I do about lead?
You can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels. These actions are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention.
To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead abatement contractor. Abatement methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials.
Who should do the cleanup?
Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems -- someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government. Contact the National Lead Information Center for help with locating certified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available. For more information, see the EPA's Lead Information Resources. The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.
Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances.
Allergic reactions to mold are common and include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.
How do I get rid of mold?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors, but indoor mold growth can be controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and also fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, the mold problem most likely will return.
Who should do the cleanup?
If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet, you can probably handle the job yourself. However:
If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult the EPA's Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types.
If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA's Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, or the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold, consult the EPA's Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold - it could spread mold throughout your home.
If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.
If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup. For more information, read the EPA's A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon causes lung cancer, and is a threat to health because it tends to collect in homes, sometimes to very high concentrations.
How can radon affect people's health?
Almost all risk from radon comes from breathing air with radon and its decay products. Radon decay products cause lung cancer.
There is no safe level of radon -- any exposure poses some risk of cancer. In two 1999 reports, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded after an exhaustive review that radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die every year from radon-related lung cancer.
How do I know if there is radon in my home?
You cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below the third floor.
Radon testing is inexpensive and easy--it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon. Various low-cost, do-it-yourself test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. You can also hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you.
What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed if it is at or above EPA's Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA's newly proposed standard.
*NOTE: Despite Radon being present in many regions across the country, the Puget Sound area of Washington does not have any significant amounts of radon in the soils and testing is not a common practice. According to the EPA, there are only minimal traces of radon in this region. Elevated amounts of radon can be detected in the NE and SW parts of WA State.
For more information, read the EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon and How to Find a Qualified Radon Service Professional in Your Area. The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.