Other Testing You May Want
Home buyers are increasingly contracting for additional testing beyond the scope of a home inspection to protect their investment and the health of their families.
Sewer line inspections - Camera inspections of sewer lines between the house and the main have become very popular in the last few years. Originally, these inspections were performed on older houses, but more and more consumers are having newer properties inspected as well. Sewer line replacement due to damage or age can be expensive and an increasing number of purchasers are opting to be proacitve in avoiding unpleasant surprises. Defective underground sewer lines are often undetectable without a camera inspection. Cost for these inspections currently varies between $125 – $175. The quality of the inspection is largely determined by the person operating the equipment. Try to get a referal or check the references of the operator.
Radon - Testing for radon gas inside homes has become increasingly important with consumers and is now a common practice in a real estate sale. Radon gas is colorless, odorless and is given off by underground decaying uranium. The EPA has determined that high levels or radon inside homes increases the potential for lung cancer. Test screening kits can be purchased from home improvement stores, analytical laboratories, radon mitigation companies or some home inspectors. Testing protocols must be followed for accurate results. Various methods for testing are available and you should discuss the time restrictions of your transaction before deciding what method of testing to pursue. Radon screeening tests must operate 2-4 days inside the house. Currently, the cost of 2 charcoal screening tests is about $50 – $60 and the cost of more accurate machine testing is about $150 – $175. The charcoal tests have to be mailed to a lab for analysis, which can add a day or two to the process. Machine results are available immediately.
Septic - Purchasers of property with on site septic systems, sand filters or cess pools are advised to have these systems evaluated by a professional. Most home inspectors do not provide comprehensive evaluation of these systems.
Water and Well - Evaluation of the well, the pump and the water quality is not a part of the home inspection and consumers are adivsed to consult reputable professionals should they require these services.
Underground Storage Tanks (UST) - Many home buyers are opting to have the soil tested for fuel oil leaking when a UST is present. Sometimes if there is uncertainty about whether or not a tank is present, the buyer will hire a company to conduct an electronic tank locate on the property. Soil cleanup from tank leaking can be expensive and consumers are reluctant to blindly accept this expense.
If you are purchasing a commercial property you should obtain a Level I Environmental Survey as a matter of limiting your future liabilty regarding clean-up costs, as dictated in Title X, The Superfund Act.
Lead and Asbestos - Testing for these substances is not part of a home inspection. Currently there is a minimal amount of testing being done by home buyers on single family homes. A prevailing opinion is that as long as these substances afre being contained and not ingested, there is minimal risk. This line of reasoning also applies to other substances; it is not healthy to ingest any building material that is not approved for consumption, either through inhalation, orally or dermally.
Mold - Many people feel that testing for mold is expensive and inconclusive. Testing can be beneficial if one is trying to isolate a particular organism, prepare a case for trial or evaluate a remediation and repair project. Mold infestations are a result of moisture intrusion, improper ventialtion or sometimes from mechanical malfunction. Most home inspectors do not test for mold, but many do inspect for conditions that are conducive to moisture intrusion and mold. Consult your inspector for an explanation of their scope of services.