When buying a new home or putting your home up for sale it’s smart to hire a home inspector. A good home inspector can help you detect issues within the home that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Although adding additional home hazard evaluations to your home inspector's list can increase your fees when buying a home, detecting issues early on can save you a ton of money in the long run.
Here are 5 hazards to get evaluated by your home inspector:
Radon is a poisonous gas that is produced from the decomposition of the element uranium in the soil, rock and water under your home. If the soil around your home is producing radon gas, it could be seeping through cracks in the foundation, and other small openings in your home. This then will trap the gas in your home causing elevated levels of radon in the air. Elevated levels of radon negatively affect your home’s air quality and could potentially result in illness as extreme as lung cancer. Because of this it’s important to test for radon before purchasing a new home. If radon is discovered in a home you're interested in by your home inspector, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t purchase it. There are precautionary measures you can take to reduce the levels of radon including installing a radon reduction system into your home. Although radon can be hazardous, it is one of the easiest hazards to detect and fix, so as a home buyer or seller hiring a qualified home inspector is the best way to prepare for this hazard.
Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that was commonly used in home construction and other products for its heat resistance and insulation properties. Because of its durability it was used very frequently in homes by being weaved into fabric and included in cement. It can be commonly found used as an adhesive for siding and roofing, in paint, and inside the walls used as insulation. It was readily used in homes between the 30’s and 50’s, however was finally banned for it’s mesothelioma causing properties in 1977. If you purchase a home that was built prior to 1980, it’s important to get your home materials tested for asbestos. This is especially important if you plan to do any home renovations that will disrupt the material. This is because as it is broken down the mineral particles fill the air and cause a hazardous contamination that could affect your health. It’s important to have a home inspector test materials in the home for asbestos so that you can have it properly removed by a hazardous waste team and disposed of properly.
There are a wide variety of mold forms that can be found in a home. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Arizona, found that 100% of homes have some small amount of mold in them. Mold is caused when spores come in contact with moisture and begin to multiply. Some mold is manageable to clean up by yourself if detected quickly enough. A small patch of mold can be mitigated using at home cleaning techniques. However, most of the time mold goes undetected until the problem is so extreme that it takes a total gut job and remodel of the affected area. Not all mold is hazardous to you and your family’s health, most mold forms will just cause allergy flare ups and discomfort. Although there are a few extreme forms of mold, including black mold for example, that could cause lasting health issues if not detected and removed. Hiring a home inspector that can detect mold is a great practice for home buyers and sellers alike to ensure that a small mold issue doesn’t turn into a large mold disaster.
4. Lead Paint
Another hazard to get inspected by a home inspector is the presence of lead paint. Lead paint was commonly used in homes before it was banned in 1978 for its negative health effects. You can test for lead paint on your own, or have a quick test included in your home inspection. If lead is detected in your paint there are a few different choices of how you can rid the home of the paint. If the paint is in good condition, and isn’t chipping or peeling, this means that the lead is contained and isn’t affecting the surrounding environment. If this is the case you can usually cover the surface with a few coats of durable non-lead paint or wallpaper. However if the lead paint is deteriorating and needs to be completely removed, this typically means a high price tag to completely remove the affected areas. Another area to pay attention to to detect potential lead paint are painted window frames and doors. These pose an especially high hazard if they are covered in lead paint because they are surfaces that rub together. This could cause the lead paint to be disrupted and lead dust could affect the environment. Removing and replacing windows and doors that are covered in lead paint is probably the best option to be safe.
3. Termite Damage
A final hazard to have your home inspector look at is potential termite damage. Termites are small bugs that get into wood products and burrow and destroy the integrity of the wood. This then causes the affected areas to deteriorate over time causing structures to weaken and even fall. If termite damage is detected during a home inspection it’s important to hire an exterminator to first take care of the termites so that they do not return, and then a contractor to repair the damaged materials if the damage is extensive. Prior to buying or selling your home you should test for termites if the home has had them in the past, or surrounding homes have experience termite damage.
Although adding these 5 hazards to your home inspectors inspection list can increase the price of the home inspection, it could save you a ton of money down the line. Letting these hazards go undetected could negatively effect your health or cause you to have to completely gut your home which in the long run could cost you thousands of dollars.