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Guide to Home Inspections

Author Natalie Bruno | Buying, First-Time Homebuyer

A home inspection is an all-encompassing examination of the condition of a home. Home inspections are typically performed during the inspection contingency period after your offer for a property has been accepted. This period usually lasts 10 business days and gives you the opportunity to uncover issues with your home before moving forward with the transaction. If issues emerge during the home inspection, your buyer agent will attempt to negotiate repairs or consideration for repairs on your behalf. If negotiations fail, you may walk away from the property and receive a refund of your earnest money. Below we outline common types of inspections, when you should consider them, general costs, and our recommended vendors.

What Inspections do we Recommend?

GENERAL HOME INSPECTION

A general home inspection is a visual inspection of a home’s interior, exterior, roof, plumbing, electric, heating and cooling, and unfinished attic and crawlspace. General home inspections are a great starting place to see if there are any existing issues with the home. We recommend scheduling your general home inspection early on in your inspection contingency period in case any issues arise and you need a specialist to inspect further and/or quote a repair. General home inspections typically cost around $500 with a reinspection fee of $125. Reinspections are only necessary if a home repair was made during your transaction. Our favorite inspectors are Trunz Home Inspections and Pillar to Post.

SEWER SCOPE

A sewer scope is a visual inspection of the condition and functionality of the property’s sewer line from the house to the city main through a video scope. The inspection is conducted by a sewer scope technician and is performed by inserting a mini camera and transmitter into the sewer line clean-out and observing and recording the condition of the sewer pipe. Root intrusion and/or collapsed lines are commonly discovered through this inspection. It’s important to address these issues early on to avoid costly repairs later. Sewer line repairs are common requests in repair addendums to the seller. A sewer scope typically costs $125- $150. Our recommended inspectors are Todd Scopes and Accurate Sewer Inspections.

TANK SEARCH

Tank searches are typically performed in homes built before 1970 to detect the location of an underground heating oil tank or other large metal targets on the property. When an underground heating tank is located, soil sampling is also recommended to check for soil contamination. Tank searches cost around $100 while soil sampling typically starts at $195. In the event an undocumented oil tank is discovered, a decommissioning is recommended and is typically asked for on a repair addendum to the seller. Currently decommissioning is still voluntary, however, any environmental contamination is reported to the DEQ.

RADON

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and emits into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Portland is known for the risk of radon exposure, specifically in the northeast so it’s typically recommended to have radon levels checked during your inspection contingency period. The air in the home is measured for radon during a 48-hr test using specialized equipment. A radon level of less than 4.0 pCi/L is considered to be acceptable. It is recommended that a radon level of higher than 4.0 pCi/L be lowered with a professionally installed mitigation system. Radon testing typically costs $150- $175. Environmental Works and Soil Solutions are our go-to companies for radon testing, tank searches, and soil sampling.

When purchasing a home you want to feel confident about the investment you’re making. Nothing kills the honeymoon phase of homeownership like costly unexpected repairs. That’s why it’s important to set aside funds for inspections and utilize your inspection contingency period to truly understand the condition your investment is in. This time in the homebuying process should be used as a safety net for you to determine whether the property is a right fit for you and if not, it allows you the chance to leave the transaction with only a minor financial loss. The above are starting places to consider when choosing your inspections, always consult your buyer’s agent for which inspections they would recommend for the property you are purchasing.

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