Fathom : When to Call an Inspection Specialist

It is your buyer’s usual duty of care to hire an inspector on a contracted property. But how do you know when a specialist for a particular trade should be consulted for a closer look? The main systems of a home are big bucks, so if any aspect of the home requires further attention, protect your client by hiring a specialist.

The initial inspection

Even if a house is almost new, an appraiser will find some shortcomings. Your buyer doesn’t have to rush into nickel and dime, especially simple wear and tear. This will irritate the seller and unnecessarily delay the transaction. However, if the inspector does discover a problem with any of these important household components or systems, it is advisable to hire a contractor in that trade to take a closer look.

The basis

Simple settlement is expected, but it is time for a foundation repair company to do a detailed assessment if there are signs of real shifting. These include:

  • Diagonal cracks on inside or outside walls.

  • Cracks that run through bricks, not just the mortar around them.

  • Doors and windows that stick.

  • Sloping floors.

The roof

Have a roofer check if the appraiser determines:

  • Shingles that are missing, cracked, or have lost most of their gritty coating.

  • Missing or intermittent flashing.

  • Proof of leaks in the attic and / or on ceilings just below the roof.

Electrical systems

As building codes updated the standards, electrical defects have become quite common in older homes. Homes built before 1980 may still have dangerous aluminum cables that need to be removed. A house should have breaker boxes, no fuses, and earth leakage breaker (GFCI) sockets in kitchens, bathrooms, and anywhere that uses water. All-electric outlets should have a left slot that is larger than the right. The house’s fire alarms should be hardwired into the electrical system and connected together in a circuit. If the general home inspection reveals that any of these components are defective, contact a professional electrician to estimate the cost of the upgrade.

Heating and air conditioning

Major repairs may be due when the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) is 20 or more years old. Contact an HVAC specialist with a quote to upgrade the system if:

  • A thermometer indicates that the vents are not cooling or heating sufficiently.

  • The oven has a wobbly heat exchanger.

  • The condenser cooling fins are dented and dirty.

  • The thermostat is an old analog model.


Like electrical installations, plumbing is an important residential system that easily fails to meet the newer code requirements. Have an installer check the system if it is at least 20 years old and has never been upgraded. If the house was built in the 1960s or earlier, the main drain line between the house and the city sewer should be inspected with a camera, as older pipes are made of galvanized metal, which will break down and crumble over time.

Most states require the seller to report past water damage in property condition reports. If mold has been caused by past leaks, have a mold removal specialist checked out to make sure it was completely removed.

Wood destroying insects

Most states also require the seller to disclose past damage from wood-destroying insects such as termites and carpenter ants. If the seller reports such damage or the inspector sees signs of an active infestation, have a pest controller examine it. Obtain copies of previous work orders and warranties.

Asbestos and lead

Between the 1930s and 1970s, asbestos was used in insulation, floors, and some plastering on walls. It was banned in 1978 after it was linked to cancer. In the same year lead paint was also banned.

If a house was built before 1978, there may still be asbestos in the insulation, the floor, or the plastering of the ceiling. If you suspect the presence of asbestos or lead paint, ask the county health department to investigate and issue a report. Then have the appropriate specialist prepare a cost estimate for the rectification.

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