When you schedule a home inspection, you should know what exactly you’re getting. According to the California Real Estate Inspection Association, a real estate inspection is a survey and basic operation of the system and components of a building, which can be reached, entered or viewed without difficulty, moving obstructions, or requiring any action, which may result in damage to the property or personal injury to the inspection.
What this means is your home inspector, whether in San Diego or New York, will let you know if the building is structurally sound. A home inspection is not designed to assess the aesthetic properties of the building or the integrity of cosmetic touches to the property. Items that fall under the ‘cosmetic’ category are pools or water features such as water fountains.
Another critical aspect to note is that a home inspection does not cover an assessment of potential damage caused by animals living in attics or crawl spaces or under the home. If you suspect squirrels nesting, spider nests, birds living in your attic, or raccoons living under the home, you should call an animal removal specialist or make sure it is written in your purchase documents that the current owner will take care of this problem before you sign the paperwork for ownership.
Fungus and mold are both potential health risks that home inspectors do not cover and are not required to inspect for. Water damage or pipes leaking can cause hazardous molds or fungus that affect human health. If you suspect mold call a professional mold inspector. A mold inspector can determine if the mold is causing structural decay and whether or not the mold is a health hazard.
Lastly, home inspectors are not responsible for determining health risks due to illegal substances such as methamphetamines being produced in a home. Methamphetamine homes, even those that have been decontaminated can cause long-term health effects ranging from migraines to respiratory problems. Long-term studies show the possibility of cancer resulting from exposure to methamphetamine labs. Your realtor should disclose whether or not your new property has ever been used as a meth lab even if it has been deemed ‘clean’ by the EPA.
A visual inspection and a little research can help reduce the risk of purchasing a home that may in the future cause health hazards to you or your family. Be sure to call the appropriate professional to assess any of the above problems. Home inspectors assess the safety of the structure of the home, but are not responsible for diagnosing health hazards in a home.