Some condo purchasers desire to have just the interior of their condos inspected prior to purchase. At Key Inspection Services, we don’t recommend this type of inspection, but we will perform it if you desire.
An interior only inspection means that no commonly owned areas of the condominium will be inspected. The inspection will include electrical in the condo, major appliances, plumbing, etc. It will not include common walls, structure of the building, etc.
When customers request this type of inspection it is usually because the condo they’re purchasing is fairly new, but has had a previous owner for a short period of time. These customers mostly want to ensure that they are fully aware of the wear and tear the first owner has left on the condo.
The reason we don’t recommend this type of inspection is because it leaves out the condition of the building and systems that apply to all owners. As a buyer, if one of these systems breaks, you are responsible for a portion of the repair as an owner in the complex. Even if the complex is fairly new, there could be repairs coming down the road.
Interior only inspections also don’t discuss homeowner dues, and whether or not the monthly amount being paid is sufficient to cover unexpected expenses. During a full inspection, we would look at past assessments, and whether or not there is a surplus in the fund sufficient to cover large maintenance items in the near future, as well as unexpected problems.
We strive to satisfy our Seattle area customer base. If an interior condo inspection is your desire, we’re happy to perform one. But, keep in mind, you might not be getting the full picture.
Many new homeowners purchasing new construction are surprised to hear us say that they need a home inspection before moving in. It’s easy to believe that since everything is new, there’s no reason for an inspection. But, here in the Seattle area, we encourage new homeowners to have a new construction inspection before closing and moving into their new home.
A new construction inspection ensures that nothing was missed or completed improperly during the construction of your new home. Just like a regular inspection, we check the major systems of the home, like electrical and plumbing, along with structural systems like the roof and foundation and the major appliances.
In the case of new construction inspections, we’re not looking for wear and tear or items that need to be replaced. Rather, we’re ensuring that things were built properly and installed appropriately. As a homeowner, you deserve to know that no corners were cut in the building of your home.
Though many builders include a warranty, it’s much easier to get problems taken care of before closing. Once you’ve closed on your home, you lose a lot of leverage with your builder. This often means that problems take months to get repaired. In addition, you may not notice your problems until a year or more later, and by then you may not even be able to find your builder to get the problem taken care of.
Let your builder know that you plan to have an independent new construction inspection before closing. It may make your builder give your home a little special attention to detail.
Many people ask if condos really need to be inspected, and if the same inspectors that perform home inspections can perform condo inspectors. At Key Inspection Services, we certainly can’t speak for home inspectors everywhere, but we do perform condo inspections, here in the Bellevue and Kirkland areas. They are a lot like home inspections in many ways, but there are some differences.
Condos include shared areas. Essentially the condo owners own these areas as a whole, which is why there is a condo association. It’s important to know the condition and any problems associated with these areas, even though you’re not buying the area in its entirety. For example, let’s say your condo is in a building of six separate units. When the roof needs to be replaced, that cost will be split among all owners.
Part of a good condo inspection is a financial inspection. As a condo owner, you need to know if the condo association dues you’ll pay each month or quarter are going to be enough to handle repairs like roof replacement or to handle unforeseen problems, like storm damage. As part of your condo inspection, problems with the structure and systems of the building will be noted, and compared to the amount the condo association has in reserve, and the amount being collected each month. Past assessments will also be examined.
Condo ownership does have some special requirements, so condo inspections do, too. Be certain that you hire a home inspector who has experience in inspecting condos so that you can ensure that there are no surprises.
Last week, in question number six, we talked about specialty items in your home, like swimming pools, security systems and hot tubs that are not covered in general home inspections. Answering that question leads homeowners to ask if there are specialized inspections that they need in addition to their regular home inspection.
Of course, if your home has any of the specialized systems we mentioned last week, it’s up to you to decide whether or not they need to be inspected. Take a look at them yourself as you tour the house. If they look old or in disrepair, they may need to be inspected. If it appears that they have not been used in a long time, it’s a good idea to have them inspected. It’s possible that the previous owner did not use them because they didn’t work, or did not use them and is unaware of whether or not they work.
Outside of these specialty items, there could also be specialized inspections you need. One that comes to mind is a septic inspection. During a general home inspection, the inspector will do a general check of the plumbing. However, there will be no real inspection of the septic system.
Septic systems are difficult to inspect, as it requires digging into the ground to reach the tank for some items. Inspections are not normally recommended. However, if your general home inspector has concerns that there may be a problem, it may be worth the trouble. In some cases, it is simply best to request that the homeowner have the septic tank pumped out prior to closing.
For those living in the city, a sewer inspection using a sewer scope might be recommended, especially if there have been problems in the area.
Termite inspections may also be necessary. It’s important to know that your new home is free of termites and termite damage before buying.
Different areas of the country have different requirements and needs when it comes to specialty home inspections. At Key Inspection Services, we recommend specialty inspections as needed or required here in the Seattle area.
When you’re buying a home, you typically rely heavily on the inspection report to help you to determine several things. These include:
• Do I really want to buy this house, based on problems that are present?
• Are there repairs I should ask the current owner to make before closing?
• Am I prepared for the upcoming maintenance this home will require?
• Is this house solid and safe?
These are important questions, and you should feel good about the answers before you move forward in closing on your home. At Key Inspection Services, we work hard to ensure that our customers in the greater Seattle area have confidence in the homes they purchase. But, there are some items that our home inspections, and those of most other home inspectors, don’t cover. You should be aware of these areas before scheduling your home inspection. Our inspections do not include:
• Swimming pools
• Hot Tubs
• Sprinkler Systems
• Security Systems
• Audio Visual Equipment
• Perimeter Lighting
We’re not suggesting these items shouldn’t be inspected. We’re just letting you know that they’re not part of a routine home inspection. Our suggestion is that if the home you’re purchasing has any of these items, you might want to call in a specialist to inspect them individually, particularly if these items have some age on them.
For example, many modern swimming pools have liners. They must be replaced periodically, and the replacement can get expensive. Before you buy a home with a pool, it’s a good idea to have a pool maintenance company take a look at the liner and the filtration system. This way you’ll know how soon you’ll need to replace the liner, pump and other items that keep the pool running appropriately.
Before you buy a home, you want to gain the confidence that you’re making a good investment. Use home inspectors, both general and specialized, to ensure you’re getting all your questions answered.
We all know that home inspection reports tend to be large and full of details. An inspection report should tell the story of a home, and should go into detail about all major areas. But, it’s also important that the areas where problems exist are highlighted. A good home inspector ensures that the trouble spots are easy to find when reading the home inspection report.
At Key Inspection Services, we cover all areas of the home. We divide our findings into four major areas:
• Major Concerns – These are significant problems with the home. They should be addressed right away. Repairs should be the responsibility of the seller.
• Potential Safety Hazards – These are also serious items the seller should take care of.
• Inquire with Seller- These are items that need more clarification. They may not be major areas of concern, but there are some questions you should ask.
• Deferred Maintenance- These are things that you should know since you are about to buy the house. They are maintenance issues you’ll have to take care of down the road.
Of course, not every home inspector will organize his inspection reports the way we do at Key Inspection Services in Seattle. But, you should expect to find the same major items highlighted, even if the order and terminology are a little different.
Even if you’ve been present during your inspection, and have received a verbal description of all the issues your home inspector found, your report is very important.
The written inspection report not only serves as documentation for you regarding the issues you’ll be facing if you buy this house, but it also is the tool that your realtor will use to negotiate repairs. A detailed report is critical to you being able to get your seller to take care of problems.
Be sure to ask up front if your home inspector takes pictures during the inspection and includes them in the report. Pictures are great tools when it comes to convincing a seller that their home truly has a problem. Those pictures also help you out in terms of finding the problem again if you end up repairing it yourself.
In addition to the pictures, the written report should be very detailed. It should be descriptive, yet avoid industry jargon that the homebuyer and seller don’t understand.
You should also expect your home inspection report to look professional. An unprofessional home inspection report lacks credibility. This lack of credibility will be used against you as your realtor tries to negotiate repair of substandard items or a lower sales price.
At Key Inspection Services, all of our home inspectors are thoroughly trained not only in how to inspect a home, but how to write a fair, informed and professional inspection report. Our inspectors include lots of pictures to back up our findings. We are proud to create some of the most professional reports in Seattle and the surrounding areas.
Most prospective homebuyers have their pre purchase inspection completed during their due diligence period. This means that they have a very short window to request repairs or back out of their contract based on the inspection results. So, as you can imagine, most prospective homebuyers are anxious to get their inspection report.
Reputable home inspectors in the Seattle area, and in most other areas of the country make it a priority to turn home inspection reports around quickly. You should expect a complete report within 24 hours of the completion of the inspection. At Key Inspection Services, we can often deliver our reports onsite at the end of the inspection.
If you’re anxious for an even quicker report from the inspector, ask if you can be present at the inspection. If the seller and your home inspector are ok with it, you can get the news straight from the horse’s mouth in real time. Most inspectors are happy to have you attend the inspection, and they’ll even show you areas of concern as they find them. Of course, the information you receive at the inspection will all be verbal. You can still expect to receive a written report in a day or two.
If you schedule your home inspection as soon as you have a signed contract to buy, you should have no issue getting your inspection report during your due diligence period, allowing you plenty of time to make requests of the seller or back out of your contract.
It is important to choose a home inspector with a good reputation for customer service, meeting deadlines and thorough inspections. At Key Home Inspection Services, we’re happy to help customers in the Kirkland and surrounding areas get great home inspections that give them peace of mind.