It is usually best to schedule a home inspection as soon as possible after submitting the contract – even if we can’t come to terms on the contract, the appointment can always be canceled. During the busy summer months especially, inspectors may be booked out up to a week or more in advance, so make sure to book one quickly. The inspector will need 1-2 days to write the report after the inspection, and then you’ll need some time to review it and ask for credits or repairs before the inspection period ends (typically 7-10 business days in OR).
Plan on attending the inspection with comfortable clothes that can get dirty, just in case you want to take a peek in the crawl space, or attic. Iit usually takes 2 hours for a condo and 3 hours for a single family home. Inspectors only work Mon-Fri during normal business hours; they don’t work evenings or weekends.
In Oregon, home inspectors must be certified by the state. You can see more information about state home inspector certification here.
Home inspectors are generalists – knowing about all the different types of systems in a home, however, sometimes if there is a problem with plumbing, electrical or other specialty, it is always best to have a contractor in that field come out and diagnose, or bid on repairing the issue that was raised. Sometimes the inspector calls something out, but a licensed, bonded and insured contractor can verify if it is actually an issue.
In addition to a general inspection, in Oregon we usually do a radon test, and a sewer scope.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that emits from the ground, and can cause lung cancer. Testing to see that levels do not exceed the EPA’s recommended levels ensures you are aware of this potential issue, however, the fix for radon is fairly straightforward and relatively inexpensive. As radon follows the path of least resistance an environmental company generally fixes the issue by putting a suction pipe below the foundation with a fan on the side of the home that runs 24/7 and channels the radon through an exterior pipe extending above the house and into the atmosphere. The company retests and generally this takes care of the issue. The installation cost generally runs from $1500 to $2000. But not all Oregon properties have radon intrusion. It is definitely a case by case basis. For information on radon from the EPA click here.
The sewer scope ensures that the home’s sewer is in working order and does not have any breaks or cracks. A sewer scope technician, (usually from an environmental company, but not always), runs a camera from the home’s sewer cleanout to the street which is the city sewer. In Oregon, the homeowner is generally responsible for the condition of the sewer from the home to the street.
Another potential inspection is for an underground storage tank (UST), which is generally used for heating oil. If there is any concern at all that there might be a UST at a property we have an environmental company do a tank search with a magnetometer which is a very strong metal detector. If one is found they take soil samples from either end of the tank to see if it has leaked. If it has, they determine the size of the “cloud” of oil in the soil. Sometimes the soil has to be removed and sometimes it does not. For more information about UST’s from the EPA click here.
Don’t forget to bring your checkbook or credit card with you to the inspection, as this will be necessary to pay the inspector. The home inspection report is generally delivered the next business day. If there are issues that the inspector was concerned about, actual contractors (electricians, plumbers, siding experts) can come and give quotes for repairs.
To resolve issues there are 3 general solutions:
- Have the Seller hire a licensed, bonded and insured contractor to fix the issues before closing. You have an opportunity to inspect the repairs before closing, and if there is an issue after closing, having used licensed professionals you have recourse through the state contracting board.
- Have the Seller contribute to the Buyer’s closing costs in lieu of repairs, generally based off of an estimate from a licensed contractor.
- Lower the sales price. This is the least used solution.
Once there is a signed agreement, the inspection period ends and the appraisal is ordered. (Sometimes we order the appraisal right away, but we do not confirm the appointment until the inspection period is over so money is not committed to the appraisal until the Buyer is sure they want the home.