Country Home Inspection

Professional real estate agents will always order a country house inspection. This is one procedure that ensures that you don’t buy a “lemon” instead of a house of your dreams. Naturally, when buying a house in the country there are more things to worry about such as water supply, sewage disposal, power and telephone access, the access to the property as well the property boundaries. This on top of inspection procedures that check the house structure, the house safety inspection – for insurance reference -- as well as inspection for things like mould and house pests.

The purchase of your country home is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make in your lifetime – all your expectations should be satisfied and you should be aware what to expect as well in terms of future maintenance. A lovely coat of paint could be hiding some structural problems; stains on the walls can mean leakage or one-time accident. Your house inspector has the training and knowledge to interpret the clues and give her / his professional opinion. The inspection will naturally tell you all you want to confirm about your building’s advantages as well and also will recommend any preventive measures that will help to avoid future problems.

Home Inspection

More than eighty percent of home buyers in America insist on a home inspection -- this shows that the current estate buyers are quite educated on real estate proceedings; however the home inspection services are not always up to the buyers’ expectations so make sure you ask around before you decide who to trust with your new country house inspection.

A home inspection should be an unbiased review and report on a country home’s systems, conditions and components. The home buyers and real estate representatives should expect and receive full professionalism, credentials, knowledge and courtesy as well as adherence to code of ethics and standards of practice from a house inspection professional.

One of the biggest issues is that new homeowners believe that they will be able to fix whatever is wrong with the house but have totally unrealistic ideas about remodeling costs. For example, imagine a house that is more than eighty-years old: you could have problems with in-house plumbing, coal packed under the cement – expensive and hard to drill through if there are any drain problems in the future, gas leaking from pipes in the walls, invisible fungi eating wood. Real estate specialist recommend that if a house is older than eighty you should look for an older-home inspection specialist as they will have the required knowledge to uncover unique problems.

Lots of houses that have been built before the 80s experience problems with sewage disposal – repairing or installing a new septic tank is a $20,000 to $40,000 expense. Before committing to buying a house a potential buyer should be prepared to spend between $350 and $450 for an open pit evaluation to dig up the septic system, pump it out and evaluate the results.

House Inspection Process

You must be curious to find out what exactly should be involved in a typical house inspection? A typical house inspection process goes as follows:

· A complete and proper inspection of a house will include a visual examination of the house and the property. The house inspector should first of all evaluate and report on the condition and the house structure: the condition of the roof, foundation, drainage, plumbing and heating system, visible insulation, wooden-stove functionality, the condition of walls, doors and windows. Only the means that are visible and accessible by normal means will be included in a typical report. You can require a more detailed inspection but you must be prepared to spend extra on specialists.

· You should request for a house inspection as soon as you make an offer on your country home. Ideally the real estate agent should include the inspection clause in your contract making your offer dependent on the findings of an inspection. If your agent doesn’t suggest this make sure you request it.

· There is a misconception that a house inspection is the same as a municipal standard code inspection, it is not. The country house can’t fail or pass the inspection; the inspection is simply a report of existing conditions. It describes the conditions of the property and points out which items would need minor or major repairs; what needs to be replaced.

· If there are problems found in the country home it doesn’t mean that you should not consider buying it – you’ll simply have knowledge about what kinds of repairs to expect. Also, the seller may be make an offer to fix the problems if the problems are significant and outweigh the benefits. If your budget does not allow for the repairs the best thing is to consider another property – there’s also no point of overpaying for the house’s value.

· The general consensus among real estate agents is that even if the house seems to be in the ideal condition you always need an inspection. You not only learn some valuable things about your property that you may be asked about if you ever decide to sell it – you’re also given a priceless gift which is a peace of mind.

· “So. How much? Can I do it myself?” First of all, no, you shouldn’t do it yourself – you may not have enough knowledge about the house structure and may be oblivious to specific problems, especially if you’re emotional about your purchase. Hire an expert. Hiring an expert will const you depending on where you are geographically, just like the real estate prices vary from area to area so do the real estate services.

· The fees usually vary depending on the size of the building, its features and age and any other qualities. The cost shouldn’t be a factor in your decision to consider buying a house – you need to have your future country home checked out, it’s simple as that. You don’t have to be present when the country inspection is performed but it doesn’t hurt for you to be there – you’ll learn a lot about your new house and you can find out some tips about the future maintenance.

· There are many ways of finding the right inspector to report on your country home – the easiest thing to do is to get your real estate agent to arrange this – they should give you a professional recommendation but you do want to be careful – it is in your real estate agent’s best interest that you buy the house so some small problems may be “overlooked”. Also, lots of inspection services advertise their business through the real estate offices – make sure you ask your real estate agent about the credentials of a service you’re thinking of contacting if that’s how you decide to pick your inspector. The best recommendation is personal – you do want someone who is throughout and tough and not someone who will ignore a problem because they have connection to the real estate office. You may even consider hiring a real estate professional who is not connected with your sale. You can obtain local referrals through American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) – these inspectors must past technical exams and have to meet very specifics standards of practice. Ideally you want at least two or three specific bids from professional home inspectors who come with best recommendations.

· Don’t accept the cheapest bid. Before you make a decision as to whom to hire make sure you check the status of the inspector’s license and check if there are any outstanding complaints with their state licensing agency, as well as check with your better business bureau or the consumer protection agency. Ask your inspector about the insurance coverage as well as their liability including malpractice insurance that covers inspector negligence as well as insurance coverage that includes “errors and omissions” details.

· Some home sellers are advised to conduct a home inspection before putting their property on the market – that way the inspection may uncover unknown conditions that will allow the seller an opportunity to conduct necessary repairs. Sometimes a professional inspection will be marked included in the country house listing – this may reduce negotiating points but also makes the whole process more efficient and without necessary delays.

· In most states the real estate law requires that a seller discloses all the relevant facts about his or her property through a transfer statement. This can’t be used as a substitute for inspection report it does offer additional information and may serve as a guide for when the actual inspection is being carried out.

· A seller is not always obligated to repair problem conditions that are outlined in the house inspection report – potential repair issues are known to both parties and become a subject to price negotiations. A seller can certainly make certain repairs but they are not obligated to and have a legal right to refuse repair demands, unless these demands are outlined by state law or the real estate contract.

· In order to do well on an inspection test – and to avoid complicated and lengthy offer negotiations -- a seller can ensure that the house is clean – the garage and basement interiors aren’t cluttered, the furnace filters are clean or replaced, the exterior is painted and caulked around trims, chimneys, doors, windows and all the other exterior wall objects.

· The seller should also check to make sure that doors and windows are in good conditions and that cracked glass is replaced if necessary. The seller can also make sure that all the plumbing fixtures are in good conditions and work properly; nothing’s leaking or rusting away. An easy access to foundation crawl spaces as well as attic, heating/cooling system, water heaters, electrical and distribution panels should be provided.

· Finally, all the utilities – water, gas and electricity – should be turned on, the inspector will not turn them on and the time frame of sales contract contingencies will be affected.

Land Survey

A country house should also have its acreage examined. For example, the trees surrounding the house should be checked out if possible – a woman in New Jersey bought her dream country home only to have it destroyed by a tree that fell down, a couple of months later.

The area that contains mature trees – older than fifteen years old – or evergreens risk purchasing sale bugs, bag worms, spider mats, borers under the barks… It is not uncommon for country house owner to spend a couple of hundred dollars for treatments for ill plants or $1000 plus fee for the removal of the dead ones. Instead of these, pay an inspector to take a look at your trees – it shouldn’t cost more than $300 and will save you some worrying. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend the proper service to carry this out.

Finally, one more area that you may want to consider is pest-inspection (some house inspectors will be qualified to do this as a part of their service) – termites, carpenter ants can hollow out most wooden foundations – this is not always observable so make sure you ask that an inspector makes this a part of the routine or that they recommend someone if there’s a suspicion that the insects – as well as wood-rotting plants such as fungi -- are present.

Last advice, when contracting a country house inspector, is to remember not to go overboard with the inspection. Find out, if possible, what is a normal house inspection procedure for a house similar to yours, also ask your agent what she or he would recommend. There’s no point of hiring someone to check for the presence of allergy-inducing elements if you have no allergies and such presence is unlikely in the first place. However, depending on the property and the area where it’s located, you may want to arrange specialized inspections for hazards from floods or earthquakes and other natural disasters as well as environmental health hazards such as asbestos, mold or lead.