Information That Should Be Provided To Potential Clients or Realtors
''Buyers face big expenses when they do not realize these common problems before they move in
these issues are occurring more often than not, I suggest you reconsider adding new services to your business if you want to stay ahead of the curve!
Mice, mold, and leaking bathtubs are among the last findings home buyers want to make after moving into a new home. However, that is exactly what a client of Oakland, Calif.-based financial planner Cathy Curtis found shortly after closing. "The first week she moved in, she emailed me in a panic that there are mice, she needs a new furnace, and the ducts, bathtubs, and kitchen cabinets need to be replaced," says Curtis. Total cost to fix everything: tens of thousands of dollars. "I'm surprised that more of this didn't come up in the inspection," she adds.
Home inspections, it turns out, are much more limited than many first-time buyers realize. "The purpose of a home inspection is to look for material defects of a property—things that are unsafe, not working, or that create a hazard," explains Kurt Salomon, president of ASHI and an inspector based in
What home inspectors don't do, in addition to harnessing psychic powers, is test for environmental safety, such as lead in the paint or radon in the air, although they might recommend that the potential buyer do so. Inspectors can also overlook mold or vermin, if evidence of their existence is hidden behind floorboards or otherwise obscured. Nor do they examine more pedestrian child-safety issues, such as how easy it is to get into cabinets or fall down staircases. In addition, most inspectors lack specific expertise in pool safety, one of the biggest risks for young children.
That means buyers not only need to take matters into their own hands—they should also budget for unexpected expenses and utilize an inspection company that is certified to conduct not only home inspections, but environmental inspections as well,
2. Look for common hazards. Older homes often have outdated railings, with spaces so wide that babies and toddlers can crawl through them. "Back in the '50s, the space between railings was over six inches. An infant can crawl through that and fall down. Now, the rule is four inches," says Salomon. Backyard pools should be enclosed by gates that are at least six feet tall with self-closing hinges and latches at least 54 inches off the ground, out of reach of young children.
Home inspectors generally do not test for environmental toxins such as lead paint, asbestos, and radon, all of which pose significant risks and can be costly to remove, although they might point out that homes are at risk for such dangers. Homes built before 1978, for example, often contain lead, and nine-by-nine floor tiles in basements are likely to contain asbestos.
If buyers are aware of these toxins before closing, they can ask the seller to pay for all or some of the abatement, containment, or removal costs. A radon system, for example, can cost around $1,500, says Salomon. Lead paint abatement, which requires an EPA-certified professional, can be similarly expensive, costing double or triple a standard paint project. Since exposure to lead during childhood can cause serious development problems, buyers with young children should pay extra attention to this hazard.
Environmental Services Coordinator
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