A home inspection is the best investment that any home buyer can make, providing you base your decision on the qualifications of the inspector and not by cost alone. In Colorado, home inspectors are not licensed, so look for one like Jim Camp of Metropolitan Home Inspections, who is ASHI-certified. Not only might you find a problem that you could get the seller to fix, but you’ll also learn things you need to know about as the future owner of that home.
The inspector will also show you where the utility shut-offs are located and how to operate them, which can be important during an emergency.
The cost of an inspection varies from one inspector to the next and depends on the size of the home or possibly the purchase price. Expect to spend between $300 and $500 for the basic or standard inspection. Add-on services which I recommend include a test for radon gas ($100 to $150) and a sewer scope (also $100 to $150).
If a high level of radon gas (over 4.0 picocuries per liter) is detected, the buyer should demand that it be mitigated, which costs a minimum of $900 and as much as $2,000 if there is both a basement and a crawl space.
A sewer scope involves sending a camera through the piping from the house to where it enters the sewer line under your street. Sewer lines in older homes were built with clay pipes which are prone to root intrusion and collapse. If root intrusion is discovered, the seller will usually agree to have the sewer line cleaned and rescoped, and if there is a collapse or other break, the repair could cost several thousand dollars, so both tests are money well spent.
The general inspection should be scheduled as soon as possible to allow time for additional inspections as indicated. For example, the inspector may discover evidence of mold or mildew, termite infestation or structural issues, and you’ll need time to arrange those inspections.
In older (pre-1985) homes, it’s common to encounter a Federal Pacific Electric or Zinsco panel, which can cost $1,500 or more to replace. The inspector should recommend further evaluation and certification by a licensed electrician and recommend its replacement since FPE and Zinsco lost their UL endorsement due to breaker failures resulting in electrical fires. An inspector will test electrical outlets for correct polarity and will also check for ground-fault protection on outlets located within six feet of any water source, such as kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, outdoors or in the garage, etc.
He (or she) will walk the roof if possible (even though it’s not required) to look for hail damage as well as proper sealing around chimneys, etc.
In this article, I have touched on only some of the many tests and inspections which make the money a buyer spends on professional inspection the best money he or she will spend.