The Importance of Home Inspections

Once a buyer is under contract to purchase a home we begin the process of inspecting the home for any necessary repairs. This can range from small items such as an outlet that doesn’t work to a full roof replacement. It is so very important for buyers to have inspections done on their potential home to avoid any large, unexpected repairs after closing. With detached homes there are a number of inspections that I recommend to get a full look at the home.

The first is a general inspection. This is done by a local home inspector. He or she will come to the home and take a look at all of the large systems in the home such as the furnace, water heater and roof. They will also visually inspect the plumbing and electrical work in the home. This inspector will check for any evidence of leaks in the home and things such as dry rot and mold. After this inspector has completed their report we will know if any further inspections are needed from a specialized technician.   For example, if the inspector notices a leak or crack in the furnace we might have a licensed HVAC technician come out to assess the issue and if any repairs are needed.

The second inspection I recommend is a sewer scope. This is a very common inspection to check the entire sewer line from the house to the street for any cracks or leaks. Most of the time, if there is an issue it will be a root from a nearby tree growing into the line or a small crack from age. During this inspection a small camera will be run from the sewer line at the house to the street to check for any problems with the line.

The third inspection I recommend is a radon level test. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can cause cancer. There are areas in Portland, especially the north east, that have historically high levels. (See the Portland radon map here https://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/HealthyNeighborhoods/RadonGas/Documents/2015%20Maps%20and%20Zipcode%20Data/Radon_Map_2014_PortlandMetro.pdf) This inspection is done over a 48 hour period. The home must have closed conditions for 12 hours prior to starting the test through the full 48 hours. A device is placed in the home to track radon levels over this period of time and find the average level of radon pCi/liter. The EPA suggests an average level under 4 pCi/liter does not need radon mitigation and any average over 4 should be mitigated. New construction code now requires a passive radon mitigation system be in place upon completion and in older homes with high levels a mitigation system is usually easy to install.

The fourth inspection I recommend if the home was built before 1965 is an oil tank scan. Homes built before 1965 were likely to have used oil heating at some point and checking for an underground tank is recommended. Many homes that did use oil heating have since been converted to gas heating, but the underground tank may not have been decommissioned properly. A leaking underground oil tank could cause soil contamination and be a health risk. An inspector will come out to scan the entire property for evidence of an underground tank. If one is found the next step is to check soil samples to find out of leaking has occurred. Decommissioning an oil tank will require a bit more investigation to find the extent of any contamination and decide on the best way to remove or fill the tank.

These are the main inspections recommended for a detached home in Portland. There may be other inspections required after the initial ones, but this is a good start to protect yourself when purchasing a home.