Caveat emptor. In Latin it means “buyer beware.” The principle behind it –that the buyer of a product, service or anything else — is responsible for checking its suitability and quality, is never more important than when buying a home.
In fact, it’s the reason behind the birth of the home inspection industry, nearly 50 years ago. At that time, homebuyers hired general contractors to check a home’s systems and components and it was called a “Contractor’s Inspection.”
Today, as we all know, the home inspection is something that no homebuyer should forego. Not only will the report show you what is currently wrong with the visible parts of the home, but it will also tell you what may be about to go wrong in the near future.
Additionally, without a home inspection to prove you performed your due diligence, you may not have a leg to stand on if you end up in a court battle with the seller over his or her failure to disclose problems with the home.
While it’s importance can’t be overstated, a home inspection isn’t the whole ball of wax when it comes to checking out a Billings home for sale. Let’s take a look at some of the other inspections you may want to consider having performed during the escrow period.
Well and septic
Many Billings homes for sale, especially in more rural areas and those in subdivisions with large lots, lack city services and, instead, rely on wells and septic systems. If you’re interested in purchasing one of these homes, you should consider having both systems tested.
Many homeowners neglect water well maintenance, which is dangerous because the federal government doesn’t regulate the quality of water pumped from private drinking water wells. Not only is routine maintenance important to ensure the well’s performance, but to protect the water quality as well.
A good well inspection will include the collection of water samples for analysis, inspection of the well for code compliance and assurances that the well contains appropriate seals, screens, vents, overflows and gaskets.
The inspector will also test the pump to ensure that it’s operating properly. By the way, most mortgage companies want to see a yield of at least 5 gallons per minute.
Septic systems require routine maintenance as well. Over time, sludge builds up in the container and it needs to be pumped out. In fact, experts recommend an annual septic system inspection and a pumping every three to five years.
The inspection of the system involves determining when the tank was last pumped, measuring the sludge in the tank’s bottom, ensuring the tank is large enough for the home and its occupants, checking that no liquid waste is discharging to the surface or backing up into the house, examining the drain lines and more.
Learn more about septic systems in Montana in an online pamphlet compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Want to hear something scary? More than half of Montana’s homes have high levels of radon gas, according to a Montana State University Extension study. Considering that radon gas is linked to lung cancer and other diseases, and children are more susceptible to the damage it causes, you may want to have the home you’re considering buying tested for radon.
In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has urged that all homes be tested for this odorless, colorless radioactive gas. It is possible to perform your own test, but
There are two tests for radon — one short-term, the other longer-term. Test kits are available at large home improvement stores, such as Lowes (2717 King Ave W in Billings) Home Depot (2784 King Ave W) and at Walmart. Order online at Amazon or Kansas State University.
Gives you the creeps just to think about mold, doesn’t it? It’s nasty stuff and causes a host of health problems.
It’s sneaky, too – hiding behind walls and under floors. Water leaks are the common culprit when there’s a fungus infestation so it’s important to look for signs of water damage when you tour the home you’re thinking of buying.
Yes, the home inspector will make note of any suspicions he or she may have but two sets of eyes are better than none. I typically keep my eye out for signs as well. Here’s what I look for:
- Any discoloration on the ceilings and walls.
- Musty odors.
- Signs of excess moisture and water damage.
Aside from finding the mold, a mold remediation professional will determine where the moisture is coming from and how to fix the problem to avoid further infestations in the future.
If the inspections turn up problems
Repairs, like everything else in the purchase agreement, are negotiable. If you feel the problems uncovered are unacceptable, you can walk away from the deal and typically expect the return of your earnest money deposit.
Once the seller is aware of the problems, however, he or she is obligated to disclose them to the next buyer that expresses an interest in the home so most smart homeowners will make the necessary repairs.