Step 7 In Buying A Home: Inspections

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

Barbara Reagan

Congratulations! Your offer was accepted by the seller and you are now under contract! Now the real fun begins! One of the biggest things you need to now do is your inspections!

As I have said in previous posts, Virginia is very much a buyer beware state! That is why it is more important than ever to do as much due diligence as you can on the house you are planning to buy! One of the things you need to do your due diligence on is the condition of the house!

Your contract has built into it an inspection period! When I am working with a home buyer, I generally will try to get a 14 day inspection period - this would be 14 calendar days from the day of ratification. During that time period, you need to do any and all inspections you want to AND get to the seller any repair requests. In our contracts here in the Richmond area, we have what is called a "forced negotiation period" (unless you have something different put into the contract). That means that, even if you are unhappy with the results of the inspection & you want to terminate your contract, you can't without first having negotiated the repairs! The contract also defines what is considered to be a defect - it is NOT cosmetic things that need to be done (no, the seller will not fix nail holes that are in the wall); it is NOT replacing some system that is functioning properly but is just old (no, the seller will not replace the roof just because it is 30 years old if it is functioning as a roof needs to function), and it is NOT updating a 1920's house to a 2019 building code! It is to negotiate true defects in the home that affect the normal stability, safety or use of improvements to the property!

So what inspections would be recommended? There are lots of inspections that you can choose to do, but here are the ones I normally recommend:

Whole House Inspection

This is the main home inspection recommended. This inspection generally will last about 3 hours or so and the whole house inspector will completely inspect the house from top to bottom! It is recommended that you be there as the whole house inspector is a great resource to not only let you know about items that will need to be repaired but also just how the house you are buying functions!

Radon Inspection

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause lung cancer. I have seen more and more of my buyers go ahead and get the radon tested in the house they are buying! And I have also seen more and more of my buyers who are purchasing properties with well also have the well water tested for radon!

Fireplace & Chimney Inspection

Many sellers in the Richmond area are selling their homes with the fireplace, flue & chimney being sold in as is condition, which means that a seller will not do any repairs if there are issues. So many of the buyers are going ahead and having the chimney & fireplace inspected to know whether or not there are issues that may need to be taken care of after closing.

Well and Septic Inspections

This is normally provided by the sellers. But in some cases a buyer may want a more in depth well inspection, so they may opt to have their own separate well inspection done! Septic inspections are also provided by the seller (unless it is an as is sale). There are different types of septic inspections that can be done - a visual inspection of the property or a more in depth inspection whereby the septic system is opened up, the distribution boxes inspected and the septic system is pumped. The buyer determines at time of contract which type of septic inspection they wish to have.

Termite Inspections

This is another inspection provided by the seller (unless it is an as is sale). Because termites are an issue in the Richmond area, most lenders will want to make sure that the termite report is a clean report. If termites or other wood destroying insects (such as carpenter ants or powder post beetles) are found, or termite damage is found, the seller will need to get this taken care of to the lender's satisfaction. Please keep in mind that the termite inspectors are not looking for wood destroying organisms, such as mold or fungi, so make sure your whole house inspector checks to make sure that this is not present in the house!

Other inspections buyers sometimes do include the roof, HVAC system, underground oil tanks. Sometimes these will be done by the buyer depending on what the whole house inspector finds (such as on the roof and HVAC). For the underground oil tanks, most buyers will generally get this done when there is evidence that there may be an abandoned underground oil tank on the property!

Please keep in mind that your inspection time is NOT for checking on things like Megans Law, whether the property has great rental potential or anything other than trying to find out about the condition of the property. If there are concerns other than condition, this should be something you discuss with your Buyer Agent before you write the contract!

Have questions on inspections or anything about buying a home? Feel free to contact me at 804-869-1191!

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