Before I even start this page let me preface it by saying I always suggest you have a Licensed Professional Home Inspector perform a full Home Inspection on any home you buy. You may think $500 to $1,000 is a lot of money for an inspection but think of it as $500 to $1,000 to assure peace of mind on your $500,000 to $1,000,000 investment. I have had Buyers who are Professional Contractors or a "Handy House Husband" who waive their right to a Home Inspection. That is their choice and their money. When this happens I insist they sign an Affidavit, "Addendum to The Contract", acknowledging that I, as their Realtor, advised them to hire a Licensed Home Inspector and they chose not to do so. You will notice I keep repeating the words "Licensed Home Inspector". I can't stress enough how important it is to have a Florida Licensed Inspector do your Inspection and a Florida Licensed Contractor performing any work. The Building Department, Code Enforcement Office and your Insurance Company will all be much more pleasant to deal with knowing all work was done by a Florida Licensed Professional.
I always suggest a Local Florida Keys Inspector due to the uniqueness of the Florida Keys Real Estate. Also, a Local Inspector will know things common to a property that doesn't stand out. For example, The Key West Golf Club, very commonly has AC and rear window issues. When these Town-Homes were built the AC Air Handlers were put in the attic without drain pans under them. An AC sweats and emits moisture. Attics are hot. The moisture from the Air Handler gets on the wood and ceiling below it possibly causing mold, wood rot, soft drywall/ceilings. Also for some reason unknown to me every Key West Golf Club unit I have seen has wood rot around the main back window on the second floor facing the Golf Course. I have no idea why this is but it has been the case with every Key West Golf Club unit I have ever been involved with. In just about every one of them the AC and Window either has been corrected or most likely needs to be corrected. A Local Florida Keys Licensed Home Inspector is going to know to pay extra attention to these two items before he/she even walks in the door.
A credible Licensed Home Inspector will have a list of standard things to check as well as anything unique to the particular property. There are standard things that are always inspected and some nonstandard but the Inspector has learned through experience what items break more than others. I like to be present for all my Home Inspections because I learn a lot by watching and most Inspectors will be happy to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. Here is a checklist of the main things every Licensed Home Inspector should cover and you will want to pay close attention when reading his/her Inspection Report.
Look for missing shingles on roofs to spot potential problems.
A thorough inspection of the exterior of the home includes an examination of driveways, walkways, foundation, landscaping, decks, roofs, gutters, doors and windows. Potential problems or hazards such as cracked driveways, uneven walkways, rusted gutters and sloping lots are noted by the inspector on the checklist. Further recommendations for repair or replacement or additional inspections are recorded. Often times a Licensed Home Inspector will suggest a Licensed Roofer give a second opinion.
Ceiling stains can indicate problems.
Home inspectors look for adequate insulation and ventilation in attics. Crawl spaces are examined for excess debris and ground condition. Some properties located in wet areas may have a sump pump installed in the crawl space to remove water during the rainy season. Standing water may indicate a malfunctioning sump pump that should be repaired or replaced. Cracks on the walls may indicate problems with the house settling. Stains on the ceilings may indicate water damage from a leaking roof. Further inspection may be advised.
Leaky faucets should be fixed prior to completing the sale.
A home inspector will examine pipes for rust and corrosion. If leaks or water flow problems are detected, further inspection by a plumber will be advised. Sinks, toilets, bathtubs and showers will be inspected. Sometimes home maintenance items that have been neglected will be listed. For example, a home inspector may recommend tightening the seal on a toilet or caulking around the bathtub. These items do not affect proper functioning but should be addressed to prevent future problems.
Electrical components will be inspected for proper functioning.
Electrical outlets will be tested to see if they are properly grounded. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) should be installed on outlets near sinks and bathtubs for safety. If any outlet does not work or a GFCI fails to trip, the inspector will recommend repair or replacement. The electrical panel will be examined and the age and condition noted. Exposed wiring throughout the house from computers or other electronic equipment can be a hazard and should be properly enclosed.
Spot problems with appliances before a sale is final.
Refrigerators, built-in microwaves, dishwashers, ovens, stovetops, washers and dryers will be tested. Some problems that may be encountered include a microwave not heating, a dishwasher not filling or emptying of water, ovens that do not heat or a gas stovetop that does not ignite when the knob is turned. Recommendations for repairs or replacements will be noted on the checklist.
Wind Mitigation Insurance Credits (Unique to The Florida Keys)
This is one of the most important parts of a Home Inspection in The Florida Keys and could save you thousands of dollars in Homeowner's Insurance immediately. That $500 to $1,000 you spent on a Home Inspection doesn't seem like much money when the Licensed Home Inspector saves you $1,000 to $5,000 in closing costs when your Lender insists you pay a full year's Homeowner's Insurance up front at closing. It is VERY IMPORTANT to make sure your Florida Licensed Home Inspector is also Licensed to certify Wind Mitigation Forms, in The State of Florida, to your Insurance Company. Your Windstorm Insurance, which is usually the most expensive part of your Homeowner's Insurance, price could be cut by 1/3 or more with credits for upgrades your home has. Often times the inspector can suggest upgrades for a couple hundred dollars that will save you several thousand dollars in Insurance Premiums year after year.
Gary McAdams, P.A.
The Key West Life
Barbara Anderson Realty