Frequently Asked Questions
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a visual inspection of the structure and components of a home to find items that are not performing correctly or items that are unsafe. If a problem or a symptom of a problem is found the home inspector will include a description of the problem in a written report and may recommend further evaluation.
Why is a home inspection important?
Home Buyers: Emotion often affects the buyer and makes it hard to imagine any problems with their new home. A buyer needs a home inspection to find out the problems /defects with the home before moving in.
Home Sellers: More and more sellers are choosing to have a thorough inspection before or when they first list their home. First and foremost, you should have a home inspection for full disclosure. You will have demonstrated that you did all you could do to reveal any defects within the home. Second, you will save money and hassle by knowing now what your defects are, not after you have already negotiated a price and are faced with costly repairs discovered on the buyer’s inspection. Defects found before the buyer comes along allow you to shop around for a contractor and not deal with inflated estimates that a buyer will present.
What if the report reveals problems?
All homes (even new construction) have problems. Every problem has a solution. Solutions vary from a simple fix of the component to adjusting the purchase price. Having a home inspection allows the problem to be addressed before the sale closes.
What does a home inspection include?
A proper and comprehensive home inspection will review the accessible and visible condition of the home from the basement to the roof, which includes the following systems and areas: Structural, Roofing, Exterior of Building, Electrical, Heating, Cooling / Air Conditioning (temperature permitting), Plumbing, Interior of Building, Functioning Permanently Installed Kitchen Appliances, and Fireplace Hearth. Many inspectors will also offer additional services not included in a typical home inspection, such as termite, mold, radon, septic, water testing, etc.
What should I NOT expect from a home inspection?
A home inspection is not protection against future failures. Stuff happens! Components like air conditioners and Heat Systems can and will break down. A home inspection tells you the condition of the component at the time the component was inspected. For protection from future failure you may want to consider a home warranty such as American Home Shield.
A home inspection is not an appraisal that determines the value of a home. Nor will a home inspector tell you if you should buy this home or what to pay for this home.
A home inspection is not a code inspection, which verifies local building code compliance. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house. Homes built before code revisions are not obligated to comply with the code for homes built today. Home inspectors will report findings when it comes to safety concerns that may be in the current code such as ungrounded outlets above sinks. A home inspector thinks "Safety" not "Code" when performing a home inspection.
Should I attend the home inspection?
It is often helpful to be there so the home inspector can explain in person and answer any questions you may have. This is an excellent way to learn about your new home even if no problems are found. But be sure to give the home inspector time and space to concentrate and focus so he can do the best job possible for you.
Are we licensed? If so by Who?
Absolutely, FHIE is fully licensed in the state of Florida by none other than InterNACHI. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the world’s largest inspection trade association. Based in the United States, InterNACHI is both non-profit and federally tax-exempt, and operates in 65 different countries and nine languages. InterNACHI is the inspection industry’s largest provider of education and training. InterNACHI has been awarded more than 1,400 governmental approvals and accreditations.
How is the industry regulated?
In Florida, all inspections should be performed to the standards adopted by InterNACHI. To become a member, an inspector must pass a written examination to prove their competency. InterNACHI and other professional training and certifying agencies train and certify their members through rigorous classroom and field testing. Moreover, InterNACHI inspectors must participate in continuing education courses to maintain their certifications and memberships. InterNACHI-Certified Professional Inspectors® adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice.
Where can I read the complete scope of a Home Inspection?
We at FHIE, have been professionally trained and licensed to follow InterNACHI's Standards of Practice. You may read the links provided to get a better understanding of what a Pre-Purchase Home Inspection consists of: https://www.nachi.org/sop.htm and https://www.nachi.org/documents2012/InterNACHI%20SOP%20and%20COE-Dec%202015.pdf
What's a Wind Mitigation & how can it reduce my homeowners insurance?
If you live in a coastal state, you’ve probably heard of Wind Mitigation Inspection. If you’re a Florida resident, especially. And if you’re not, you might want to reconsider the significant savings a home inspection may offer, should nature’s fury unleash.
Many property owners receive wind mitigation inspections to assess the preparedness of their homes and businesses in resisting the effects of windstorm damage or loss. Interestingly, even in Florida, wind mitigation inspections are not required by insurance companies or mortgage lenders – it’s totally optional, unlike some derivative of the four-point home inspection (which assesses the status of a property’s electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems plus the roofing) or a more intensive roof condition inspection. So why would someone want to order an extra inspection if it isn’t 100% needed? Because it could save you money!
That’s right – SAVE YOU MONEY. Wind Mitigation Insurance is the only inspection that is almost guaranteed to result in some level of insurance discount on your insurance premium.
Here’s a rundown on why - Following an intensely active tropical storm season and resulting all-out battery on the US, a handful of insurance companies not-surprisingly went bankrupt over mounting claim and reparation costs. Officials in states like Florida and Louisiana, hard hit by strong storms saw an exodus of insurance companies and homeowners left high and not-so dry. They knew they needed to do something to help property owners and insurance companies alike… FAST.
Their solution: Incentivizing wind mitigation inspections as a means of properly safeguarding properties in targeted areas, in the hopes that insurance companies increase their odds of insuring more secure, less damage-susceptible properties.
In 2006, Florida became the first state in the nation to mandate that insurance companies offer some reduction insurance costs if a wind mitigation inspection is sought and certified upon review by a qualified inspector with the Multiple other coastal states including Lousiana, followed similar suit.
So you’re wondering – Do I just get an inspection and save on insurance? And how much could a person stand to save?
Well, that all depends on the features of your property. An inspector will evaluate the wind-mitigating characteristics of your home or business. Post-inspection, that inspector will make recommendations for any improvements or repairs the property owner could make on their home to enhance its sustainability against windstorm damage. He or she then submits a state-standard inspection report to your insurance agency. The report is viewed as a benchmark of your home's ability to withstand storm damage, and an appropriate discount is then applied – in Florida, an average discount of 30% is typical, saving a few hundred to over $1000 annually on your insurance premium.
Every state can vary on what safety features inspectors look for. As an example, Florida looks at 8 key categories, described below:
Roof Covering: inspectors want to know when the roof was installed and does if it meets building codes. In Florida, the code standard was updated in 2001.
Roof Deck Attachment: inspectors will determine what type of roof decking is used and how it’s attached to the underlying structure, like if it’s nailed or stapled down. If nails are used, nail length and spacing between each will also be noted.
Roof to Wall Attachment: the roof attachments become the focus here: are trusses attached with nails or hurricane clips? Are the wraps single or double? The more secure your roof, the better impact on your wallet!
Roof Geometry: is your roof hip or not? Nope, the inspector won’t care how cool it is, just how it’s shaped - a hip roof resembles that of a pyramid, and is a definite qualifier for a discount.
Gable End Bracing: if the roof is a gable style, an inspector will review if the gable ends are braced to Florida Building Code standards. Gable ends measuring more than 48 inches tall should be braced for reinforcement, and inspectors will be checking for this qualification for discount.
Wall Construction Type: Inspectors will review the construction materials used on your home for framing, reinforcement, and outer fascia, and at what percentages. Steel reinforced concrete block homes may yield a better discount than one with a plywood-only frame and plastic siding.
Secondary Water Barrier: This is a newer item for roofs. If your roof was installed or upgraded before 2008, it’s fairly unlikely you’ll have this sort of barrier. As with most newer features, photo documentation, at a minimum, will be required for a discount in this area.
Opening Protection: Here, inspectors are looking for shutters and installed-protection devices from wind-born debris for doors and windows. They will also be checking the rating of the devices, if you have them (as in- are they hurricane-rated?). 100% of all openings need to be covered with Hurricane rated protection to qualify for this discount.
In the end, investing in a wind mitigation inspection is at your own discretion. The potential cost-savings per year could easily outweigh the cost. If you live in a coastal region, avoiding a wind mitigation inspection is at your own peril. For more detailed information visit: https://www.nachi.org/wind-mitigation.htm
What is a Four Point Inspection & Why is it needed?
The 4-Point Inspection is often a required inspection in order to obtain (or maintain) insurance coverage. The inspection requirements were designed by insurance companies in order to get a better understanding of the structure they are insuring.
This is especially pertinent when insuring an older home. Older homes have had more time in which to have systems repaired or replaced or for things to potentially fall in to disrepair. Older homes also may have used construction techniques or materials that were normal at the time, but were subsequently phased out in favor of more modern practices. These are all things that are interesting and important for the insurance company to be aware of, since it helps them determine if the home is eligible for coverage under their underwriting policies.
For example, a home from 1958 would have been built with a fuse box and screw-in fuses, as was standard practice at the time. Many of those fuse boxes are still in existence and replacement fuses can be purchased as needed. Nevertheless, many carriers have underwriting rules that prohibit them from knowingly ensuring any home that has old-style fuses rather than the more modern breakers that became the standard panel in the 1960’s. The 4-point inspection is what lets the carrier know what it is they are insuring. Since they don’t know until they get the inspection, the 4-point is often required when a home is of a certain age (usually 30 years or more), so the carrier can be sure about some of the important features of the home that it is insuring.
4-Points can also be requested in a wide variety of other situations not directly related to the age of the home. Some insurance companies perform one on all or virtually all of the policies they insure.
The reason for the inspection’s name relates to the fact that the inspector is going to look at four of the most important systems in your home that historically are the most likely areas to cause an insurance claim. For each of the 4 items, the inspection is limited to the visible parts of each system. These systems are:
1.) The Visible HVAC System (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
2.) Visible Roof System
3.) Visible Plumbing System
4.) Visible Electrical System
First of all they will want to know the condition of each system: are they new, used, and are they in relatively good shape? Is there any evidence of repairs that have been made? If so, do the repairs look like they were professionally done? If any damage or deficiencies are noted, it’s possible you will have to correct them in order to obtain or maintain your insurance policy.
The second thing that they are going to be looking at is the age of the components. If you are purchasing an older home there is a chance that the age of one feature or another will be beyond the maximum age allowed by a particular carrier’s underwriting rules, even if the condition of the component in question appears to be fine.
If the Four Point Inspection Reports a Possible Deficiency, Dont Panic!
A properly-completed 4-point is designed to capture all possible items that may fall afoul of any insurance company’s underwriting guidelines. In order for the 4-point to be useful and accepted by all insurance companies operating in Florida, the insurers have to be confident that the inspection will give them the information they need to make their underwriting decision.
As a result, many conditions that are reported on a 4-point inspection may be a problem for some insurance carrier, but may NOT be a problem for YOUR insurance carrier. This is where the expertise of your insurance agent is so important. It’s your trusted insurance agent that can help confirm and clarify whether or not a system needs to be repaired, updated, or replaced, or if after reviewing a reputable 4-point inspection, perhaps you should be placed with a different insurance company with underwriting guidelines that better fit your situation. The inspection company should always be happy to walk you through their findings, but it’s your trusted insurance agent that can take those findings and make sure you’re in the right policy with the right coverage, insured by the right carrier.
A Word of Caution
Notice that everything about the 4-point inspection is related to obtaining or retaining homeowner’s insurance, period. It’s a limited scope inspection that only takes 20-30 minutes in most cases. It’s focused on insurance and has nothing to do with the type of home inspection one should get if they are deciding whether or not to buy a home. For that, you would need a Comprehensive Pre-Purchase (or Real Estate) Home Inspection. That type of inspection often takes 2-4 hours and takes an in-depth look at (and documents) hundreds of features throughout a home. Exclusively or primarily using a 4-point insurance inspection in order to decide whether or not to buy a home would be completely inappropriate.
What’s Wrong With Real Estate Agents Recommending Home Inspectors To Prospective Home Buyers?
Most real estate agencies work on an average commission of 5% paid by the seller of the property. A house selling for $350,000 has a potential commission of $17,500. (FYI, real estate commissions are negotiable.) Sometimes a selling agent will recommend particular home inspectors to a prospective buyer, sometimes a list of three is given out. How did these inspectors “qualify” to get on the “approved” list? Is the agent recommending a thorough non-bias inspector or is the agent recommending someone who will help protect the potential $17,500 commission?
Do prospective home buyers have the right to use an inspector of their own choosing?
If a real estate agent tells you that you cannot use an inspector of your choosing, or insists that you use one of their “recommended” or “approved” inspectors, you should contact your attorney. A real estate agent who tries to get you to use an inspector of the agent’s choice is trying to control the home inspector selection process. Prospective home buyers must keep in mind that real estate agents who receive a commission from the property seller, are working in the best interest of their client, (the seller.) As the prospective home buyer, you are a customer of the agent, not a client. As the prospective home buyer, the inspector you’re paying for should be working in your best interest.
Common Mistakes Buyers Shouldn't Make During an Inspection
The home inspection is one of the most crucial steps for buying a home, and it shouldn't be overlooked or rushed. In fact, the inspection process has the potential to be just as nerve-racking for the buyer as it is for the seller. What if you've fallen in love with a beautiful home that has major problems lurking beneath the surface?
That's why it's extremely important to pay attention during this process, and take steps to avoid common pitfalls. How can you possibly screw it up? We're here to tell you.
Stay clear of these mistakes when you get an inspection on your dream home.
1. Forgoing an inspection in the first place - Sure, most people know they should get an inspection on a home they're buying from someone else. Many buyers tend to skip an inspection when buying new construction. And that can be a huge mistake.
2. Choosing the cheapest inspection option - There are a lot of inspectors who offer very low prices for home inspections and that could indicate they're new and inexperienced, or that they’re having trouble finding clients. We're not saying you should never opt for an affordable inspection, or that all affordable inspectors are dummies. But we are saying you should do your research before defaulting to the cheapest option.
3. Not being present for the inspection - Tempted to let the inspector just do their job and read the report later? Hearing the inspector’s comments directly and being able to ask questions is extremely helpful in figuring out what items from the report are truly a concern.
4. Not making the rounds with the inspector - Don’t squander the opportunity to learn more about your home. Don't spend your inspection time checking your email or choosing colors for your new living room while the inspector is doing their work.
5. Being overly involved in the inspection - On the other hand, it’s possible to be too involved during an inspection. Don't distract your inspector from the details of the job. Be a good listener, but keep the chatting to a minimum.
6. Expecting a perfect report (and overreacting if it’s not) - An inspection is not a pass-fail test, and every home will have flaws. Don’t be surprised if the inspection uncovers as many as 50 to 100 “deficiencies." Many of these may be relatively minor. Buyers who are unprepared for the depth and breadth of an inspection are often taken aback, and it can sour them on the home when many of these blemishes are to be expected.
7. Focusing on the wrong things - Not all "deficiences" are equal. Remember that an inspection is the chance to find out about significant red flags with the property (e.g., issues with the roof, foundation, HVAC systems, or other costly problems).
8. Not getting negotiated repairs reinspected - Once the negotiated repairs have been completed, it’s wise to get a final written approval from your home inspector—even if there's an additional cost.
What is Infrared Thermal Imaging?
Thermography is a “heat diagram” or a visible picture using the infrared spectrum of light. This imaging technique is a powerful and noninvasive means of monitoring and diagnosing the condition of buildings. Thermal images can help reveal problems about moisture (which may be conducive to mold, decay and termites), electrical system hot spots, deficient insulation, Heat/AC and duct system, structural issues, and plumbing leaks. FHIE offers free thermal imaging scans for all scheduled home inspections a $265.00 value.
When is payment due and what payment options are available?
Payment is due at the time of the inspection. Due to Insurance requirements the report can’t be released until payment is made in full.
Payment options can be in the form of cash, personal check, or with Credit Card at the time of the Inspection. Our preferred method of credit card payment is via Square (a remote credit card processor using your card on-site the day of the inspection).
Is it really necessary to perform an inspection for new construction?
Absolutely! It is critical that your newly constructed dwelling be inspected by an experienced professional that looks at the property in a totally unbiased way. It is much easier to have items corrected before you close and inhabit the property.
When Will The Report Be Ready?
(All inspections are sent by email within 24 business hours . All of our inspection reports are computerized with digital photos and/or videos. All inspection reports will be e-mailed. We want you to have a full understanding of the home when you review the inspection report. We are available for you throughout your entire real estate transaction process. Please feel free to contact our office should you have any questions regarding the inspection. We at Florida Home Inspector Expert hope you enjoy your new purchase!
Nervous about your inspection?
The process can be stressful. But a home inspection should give you peace of mind, although initially it sometimes has the opposite effect. You may be asked to absorb considerable information in a short time, which includes a written report, photographs, lab reports, and comments by inspector during the inspection. All of this, combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you personally notice, can make the experience even more overwhelming.
What should you do?
Relax. Most of your inspection will involve your home inspector making maintenance recommendations, giving life expectancy for various systems and components, and noting minor imperfections. This information is useful. However, the important issues will fall into four categories:
Major defects. An example of this would be a structural failure.
Issues that lead to major defects, such as a small roof flashing leak.
Items that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home.
Safety hazards, such as an exposed, live bus bar at the electrical panel.
Anything in these categories that was noted during your home inspection in should be addressed. Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are honest and often surprised to learn of defects found during a home inspection. Sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect so keep things in perspective and know that, more often than not, defects can be repaired fairly easily. Your inspector is available to answer any questions or concerns you have and will help in whatever way possible to assist you through this process.
What Other Services Do You Suggest?
Our additional services can add piece of mind to buying a home, they are reasonably priced and gives a more in depth picture into the condition of the home. Our aim is to keep the home inspection cost low, so instead of including these services as a package we give them as an option so that you can decide what may be important to you. The most common additional services we perform are mold and lead testing. Please click for details on additional services we offer and the pricing.
Why do I need an inspection if I'm selling?
It is recommended you get your home pre-inspected. This prevents you from having to make repairs or pay for repairs when you go under contract. Moreover, you receive an unbiased report you can trust and are able to even increase the value of your property before you sell it by making the necessary repairs.
What is a Home Inspection NOT?
Able to identify concealed or latent defects.
Concerned with aesthetics or what could be deemed matters of taste or cosmetic defects.
Able to determine the market value of the property.
Advisement of the purchase of the inspected property.
Capable of relaying the life expectancy of the property or components.
A county code inspection.
A certification of property or its components.
What is Radon?
Radon is an odorless, tasteless gas which cannot be seen. But why do you care? Uranium in soils decays creating a radioactive gas – Radon – that is attributed to causing over 20,000 deaths per year (according to the EPA). Radon gas is noxious throughout the U.S.A.
Your home is a trap for radon gas, allowing it to build up and preventing it from dissipating into the air naturally. Radon can enter through unsealed crawl spaces, cracks in floors and foundation, and the water supply.
Is it necessary to get high radon mitigated?
Just like smoking cigarettes, it is not certain you will obtain lung cancer from high radon levels.
However, a radon level above 4.0pCi/L is proven to result in lung cancer; in fact, it is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. By not mitigating high levels, you are only exponentially increasing your chances.