inspection: The hidden horrors
"Inspecting these should be a no-brainer,"
Again, costs vary, but set aside $150 to $350 for
this peace of mind.
Pests and mold: Preins
has witnessed wooden foundation joists hollowed out by termites
and carpenter ants, literally leaving the home on shaky beams. Because
pests are so destructive, many general inspectors also obtain licenses
to offer this service for an additional fee.
Expect the bill to hover in the $75 to $120 range,
depending on the home's total square footage.
The pest inspector (and some general inspectors) may
express a willingness to search out wood-destroying organisms as
well -- a fancy term for mold, dry rot, mildew and other fungi.
Thanks to the rise in allergy susceptibilities, ASHI
anticipates this to be the next hot specialty area. Typically, your
tolerance for this fee should be tied to your health condition.
What one homeowner won't notice can wreak havoc on a new buyer's
sinuses. However, if you don't like playing any odds, cough up the
money now to at least check for the toxic stachybotrys mold, warns
Brown, owner of Environmental Services and Products
in San Marcos, Texas, is learning everything he can about what he
calls "the Latin critter." One of his clients abandoned
a multi-million dollar home near Austin to escape this organism
that doctors suspect, at its worst, can cause bleeding lungs or
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
are quick to point out that such cases are rare.
Don't get taken
At some point, the law of diminishing returns means homeowners are
spending inspection money foolishly.
"If your family doctor gives you a clean bill
of health after a physical, you don't then consult a neurologist,
an orthopedic surgeon and a cardiologist," says Preins.
Lead-based paint falls into this category. Thanks
to Title X national legislation, sellers in all real estate transactions
must disclose that homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based
paint. However, any inspection findings are non-negotiable, so the
seller isn't legally obligated to do anything about the results.
"So what does a test get you? Nothing,"
The inspector, however, may need to recoup the $15,000
investment price and $4,000 annual maintenance on the necessary
equipment, so keep that in mind if he pushes this roughly $375 test.
Preins tells his clients to simply assume all paint
in these homes contains lead and assign the children's rooms accordingly.
He recommends wiping out friction areas such as windowsills and
doors once a week with a soapy rag, and saving your bucks to repaint
over the existing wall coloring.
Kuhn admits radon's presence doesn't raise red flags
today either. Like mold, it's a personal health risk decision, and
the cost to actively mitigate the problem is under $1,200. (Passive
measures cost less.)
Certain areas of the country are prone to higher radon
levels, so check with your state department of environmental protection
for data on potential radon activity for your zone. Then budget
the $100 to $150 for the test when you are more flush with cash
down the road.
Finally, think hard before paying $60 to $100 to a
chimney service. Sending cameras down your fireplace flue to scour
for cracks sounds sane, but in reality a re-line job isn't costly
enough to warrant that attention, Preins says.
"If the home is 50 years or older, you
might consider it," he says. "But most good home inspectors
can give you a clue about this structure."