Types of Home Inspections

Structural and Mechanical Inspection

  • This is the most common inspection requested by the buyer.
  • This inspection determines if the major mechanical and structural components of your home are performing their intended functions.
  • The inspections should take place as soon as possible in order to negotiate repairs early in the process.
  • A typical inspection will take two or more hours to complete. It includes roof, basement, plumbing, electrical systems and overall structural soundness. A detailed report is delivered to their buyer and their agent. From this report buyer and seller determine which repairs, if any will be made. The inspection also serves as an educational process, helping the buyer become familiar with their new home.


  • Radon is a tasteless, odorless gas. It is a proven carcinogen and ranks second only to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer.
  • If you have a radon problem, it is usually easy and inexpensive to abate.
  • It typically migrates through the ground to the air above and into your home through the following: cracks in concrete, suspended floors, gaps around pipes, cavities inside walls, or the water supply if you have a well.
  • Nearly one out of fifteen homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Although radon is more common in some areas, any home may be at risk.
  • The only way to know for sure is to test. A monitoring device is put in place. There are a number of radon sampling devices that you can buy, or you can have a professional company conduct tests. It is important during the test period to keep all windows and doors closed except for normal exit and entry.
  • If the test reveals a radon level of 4 pico curies per liter or more (EPA standard) a second test will usually be conducted. If the level remains elevated, it will be necessary to take corrective measures. The type of remediation will depend on the design of the home and the cause of the problem.

Wood Destroying Pest

  • It is frequently referred to as a termite inspection. The inspection is usually required by the lender and strongly recommended if not required.
  • This inspection also identifies the presence of certain types of beetles, carpenter ants and wood rot. All of these left unchecked can cause extensive structural damage.
  • If an active infestation is discovered you will be responsible for having it treated.
  • If any damage is discovered from either a past or current active infestation, the lender will most likely require further investigation by a licensed contractor or structural engineer. This is to determine if the damage has compromised the structural integrity of the house. This cost is usually borne by the seller.


  • Many older homes have asbestos insulation in walls and ceilings, wrapped around hot water pipes or in exterior shingles.
  • If you suspect there may be asbestos in your home, you should have a professional inspection. Generally, asbestos is considered a health hazard when the material is friable, that is, when it crumbles, releasing tiny fibers into the air.
  • Removal of asbestos can be an expensive process and must be conducted by trained and certified professionals. But the presence of asbestos may not be a health hazard, and in some cases, an asbestos hazard can be isolated without removal.

Well Water and Septic Systems

  • It is recommended that a seller has their septic system pumped every three years and before the septic inspections are done.
  • Various tests will be done to check the quality of well water. The standard tests are: Coliform, pH; Iron; Manganese; Harness and Nitrates.
  • When the test results exceed the Board of Health standards, the seller will be required to correct the problem.

Lead-Based Paint

  • Approximately three-quarters of the housing in the United States built before 1978 (about 64 million dwellings) contain lead-based paint. When properly maintained and managed, this paint possesses little risk.
  • Affects Brain - Lead poisoning can cause permanent damage to the brain and create reduced intelligence and behavioral problems. Lead also can damage other organs and can cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. People can get lead in their bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips with lead in them.
  • Often Found in Pre-1978 Housing - The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction ACT of 1992 directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure people receive information needed to protect themselves from lead-based paint hazards.
  • Requirement - Most home buyers and renters must receive information on lead-based paint and leadbased paint hazards when they buy or rent housing built before 1978. Some housing, such as efficiency apartments, dormitories, vacation rentals, adult housing and foreclosure sales are not covered. Under the rule, sellers, landlords, and their agents will be responsible for providing information to buyers or renters before a sale or lease. Home buyers will have 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense. The rule gives the two parties flexibility to negotiate key terms of the evaluation. The new rule does not require any testing or removal of lead-based paint by sellers or landlords and does not invalidate leasing and sales contracts.
  • Pamphlet Available - For a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, sample disclosure forms, or the rule itself, call theNational Lead Information Clearinghouse (NLIC) at (800) 424-5323, or TDD (800) 526- 5456 for the hearing impaired. You may also send your request by fax to (202) 659-1192 or by e-mail to ehc@nsc.org. TheEPA pamphlet and rule also are available electronically and may be accessed through the Internet.