A home inspector can look for leaks and can test to make sure the water is running and draining well, but he can’t see inside the drain pipes to confirm that there are no major problems. For this reason, you may decide to hire a plumber or plumbing inspector to stick a camera down the sewer lines and check for problems. After all, a cracked drain line can cost thousands of dollars to repair, especially if it’s broken under a driveway or parking lot.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material used during the 20th century in a lot of building materials, but it was later discovered to be dangerous, even deadly, to humans who might breathe in fibers that become airborne. Asbestos can be found in hundreds of different products but is most common in popcorn ceilings, exterior siding, and pipe insulation. If you or your inspector have concerns about asbestos being used on your property, get the house tested by a local environmental testing agency. Although asbestos can be removed, this must be done by a licensed professional trained to remove the lethal product.
3. Lead-Based Paint
Before 1978, lead was often used in both interior and exterior paint. It was added to paint to speed the drying time, increase the longevity of the paint, and resist moisture, which can cause corrosion on the painted surface. It was later discovered that lead can cause damage to the human nervous system, especially in young children. In 1978, lead-based paint was outlawed in the United States for residential use. Therefore, anything built before 1978 may contain lead (the older the home, the greater the chance).
Because of the danger this poses, there are some fairly strict laws in place concerning the disturbance or removal of lead-based paint from a property; this, of course, means that the issue can be very expensive to remediate. If you are buying a property that was built before 1978—and especially if you plan to do major work on it—you may want to test the surface of several painted areas of the property to determine whether lead exists. You can either hire a professional to do this, or you pick up a lead-test kit from any home improvement store and do it yourself.
4. Pests/Wood Destroying Organisms
Termites, flying beetles, carpenter ants, and other wood-eating bugs can cause tens of thousands of dollars in structural damage to a house, years before a homeowner or tenant even knows they are there! If your home inspector finds evidence of pests in the home, or if you simply live in an area of the country where this is common, hiring a professional pest inspector to perform a pest inspection would be wise.
This is also known as an “inspection for wood destroying organisms.” These inspections are generally done by local pest control companies whose workers are specifically trained to spot signs of these “silent killers.”