Do you remember the last time you went for a checkup at your doctor’s office? Your MD probably ran a gamut of standard tests and procedures to make sure your blood pressure, weight, and lungs are all healthy. If you needed some special diagnostics done, however, you were likely referred to a specialist. Though it was probably a little bit nerve racking waiting for your results, you were ultimately relieved to learn that you’re in good health, or that you caught a problem early enough to take action.
Much like a checkup at the doctor’s office, hopeful homeowners should order a home inspection to make sure there are no major issues with their future house. “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 the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Contrary to what you might have thought until now, a home inspection is not an in-depth examination. In fact, there are quite a few things your home inspector won’t be looking for. Aside from your regular home inspection, here are some additional tests you’ll want to schedule before closing on your new house.
Termites and Pests: Though not typically included in a home inspection, having your home checked for termites and rodents by a pest inspector is important. Detecting termites before you move in can save you from expensive repairs in the future.
Septic System: Raw sewage – is there anything more repulsive? Septic tank problems are nauseating to say the least. If you’re considering buying a home that isn’t connected to your city’s sewage disposal utility, hire a contractor who specializes in septic system maintenance and repair to evaluate your septic tank.
Mold: Surprisingly, a regular home inspection doesn’t include a test for mold, which can cause major health problems. Your inspector should make a note if they see something suspicious, but it’s ultimately the buyer’s responsibility to get a mold specialist involved to make a professional evaluation.
Lead: Homes built before 1978 often contain lead-based paint, exposure to which can cause serious developmental problems in children. Lead paint abatement, which requires the help of an EPA-certified professional, can wind up costing buyers double or triple the price of a standard paint job.
Radon: Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, according to EPA estimates. Luckily, a simple test can show you whether radon is above the safe level in your future home. If it is, your inspector should be able to recommend a licensed treatment expert. Oftentimes, the professionals licensed to treat radon are also qualified to remove asbestos, so you only have to deal with one person.
The bottom line: Consider going beyond your standard home inspection to avoid unexpected costs after closing. It’ll be worth the extra time and effort.