Having a Home Inspection: What a Buyer and Seller should know

Buying or selling a home can be a very stressful time for both buyers and sellers. Deciding whether or not to have a home inspection for a buyer is a very important part of the real estate transaction process. In most cases a buyer will be working with a buyer's agent at a local real estate company. When an offer is made, a buyer will be asked if they would like to opt to have various inspections performed. Some of the most frequently requested inspections are; the Structural or whole house inspection, which is a comprehensive evaluation of the entire structure. Wood Destroying Insect Inspections, often referred to as "termite" inspections are often times a mandatory requirement of the lender. Radon testing which is becoming more and more commonplace will determine the presence of the dangerous radioactive gas. For rural property homes that utilize on-lot septic systems and private wells, inspections can be required or requested depending on the type of loan being utilized for purchase. Some other less frequently requested inspections that a buyer may elect to have are: lead-base paint testing, asbestos screening, and mold evaluation among others.

Once a buyer has selected to have any of the above mentioned inspections, the selection process for a Home Inspection company is the next step. Until December of 2000, Pennsylvania was one of the few remaining states that had no regulatory guidelines for inspectors. Basically anyone could hang out a shingle and call themselves a home inspector. In December of 2000 the new Pennsylvania law known as PA Act 114 of 2000 was enacted to provide the much needed regulatory guidelines. Some of the highlights of this law are as follows.

A home inspector MUST be a member in good standing of a National Home Inspection Association, not a code agency. The association MUST have, and the Inspector MUST utilize the ethical code of conduct and standards of the association. A home inspector who provides false representation is criminally liable. So don't be afraid to ask a home inspector you are contemplating using for their credentials. Credentials can often be verified on-line. A contract between Client and Inspector is also required under the law. The law also requires reports to be very comprehensive and address various aspects. The report must also be given only to the Client under penalty of law unless written permission is granted otherwise. The law also requires Inspectors to carry minimum amounts of both, Errors and Omissions as well as General Liability Insurance. Again, don't be afraid to ask your Inspector to provide copies of the certificate of Insurance.

PA Act 114 of 2000 addresses only Structural aspects of the inspection. It does not address requirements for the other above mentioned inspection services. It is suffice to say however that all aspects of home inspection whether it be Wood Destroying Insect, Septic evaluations, or Water Analysis all require certifications in order to provide these services. Radon Testing and Mitigation even requires a certification through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The bottom line is that it is important for Buyers and Sellers alike to understand Inspectors must be in compliance with the New Pennsylvania Law and be properly certified. Don't be afraid to ask questions and verify all information. A full copy of PA Act 114 of 2000 can be obtained on line by searching PA Home Inspection Law or PA Act 114 of 2000.