Buying a home is a thrilling experience. Whether it’s a starter home or a place where you and your spouse plan to raise your children, it’s always an exciting day when you make an offer on a home and get a call from your real estate agent saying it’s been accepted. It’s important that you don’t get in too much of a hurry to move in, though. It’s natural to want to take possession of the keys and start unloading the moving trucks, but be careful. Your lender will likely require your house to be appraised before you close the deal, and while that may seem like enough, it’s really not. An appraisal is not the same thing as an inspection. An appraiser wants to figure out how much the home is worth, while a home inspector does a lot more than that. There are multiple things you’ll want to get reviewed, including your plumbing.
Minor and Major Defects
House inspectors are a lot like food safety inspectors: They’re generally looking for defects, although not defects all created equal. It may help to think of a food safety inspector visiting a restaurant and finding two problems. One violation involves someone forgetting to put up a mop after they used it. That’s a pretty minor violation as far as things go, right? But the other violation involves employees who leave a carton of milk out of the fridge for an hour or two. The milk could go bad and make someone sick, so that’s a much bigger issue than improper equipment storage.
Similarly, a home inspector could discover that one of the light switches doesn’t work correctly. It’s not believed to be a fire hazard, but it does need to replaced sooner rather than later. That’s more manageable than if your inspector finds out that the home’s foundation is faulty, or if a sewer inspection reveals that some of the pipes inside your bathroom wall are leaking and mold is growing. It’s vital that you make sure your home inspection is as thorough as humanly possible. You can find lists online of things that need to be inspected, and feel free to ask your inspector about each item on the list. In some cases, there’s a good reason not to inspect something. Obviously, you can’t inspect the chimney if there isn’t a fireplace. But if your inspector says they won’t be looking for lead-based paint, feel free to ask why.
Why Sewer Problems Are a Big Deal
Sewage and plumbing problems are some of the worst kind to encounter, especially if you don’t find them until after you’ve bought the house. At that point, you’ll almost certainly be responsible for making any repairs, and sewer issues can cost thousands of dollars to make right. Another reason sewer problems can feel so huge is the way in which they usually come to light. Sure, occasionally you’ll notice the toilet is making a weird noise and can call someone in to come look at things before it gets out of hand. But all too often, we don’t know something is wrong until the toilet overflows or the water coming out of the shower suddenly takes on a strange hue not typically found in nature. At that point, fixing it is usually an emergency, and those are always more expensive to cover something that’s just a matter of routine maintenance.
Modern sewer inspections use cameras to get down in the system and check for things like cracks or blockages. Roots from nearby trees can even get tangled up in your sewer system. Sometimes, you’ll even be given a video of footage taken by cameras as they roamed around your pipes. It won’t be as cute as the home video of your toddler taking her first steps, but it can still be very helpful. It’s unlikely that the inspector will find something so big that you decide to back out of buying the house, but checking things out before the deal is final can give you some much-needed peace of mind.