Whether your real estate purchase contract is prepared by a realtor or an attorney,
it should contain a home inspection clause. This affords you the opportunity to
have licensed professionals inspect the home to seek if there are any significant
problems. Your home inspector will provide you with a written report, which
your attorney will send to the seller’s attorney. Often, the seller will agree to
correct deficiencies in the house or to give you a monetary credit against the
purchase price of the home.
The most common home inspections include radon, termite, well, septic, building
and tank sweep.
A radon test involves the placement of a canister in the basement of the home
which is later sent to a lab to determine whether the radon level is under the
standard limit of four picocuries per liter. If it is over, the seller generally will hire a contractor to install a remediation system and to retest and give you a warranty.
The termite inspector looks for wood destroying insects such as carpenter ants, termites and carpenter bees. S/he also looks for damage to the structural frame of the house.
The seller will need to treat any infestation, make any repairs and provide you with
a one year warranty. Mortgage lenders usually require a termite inspection.
New Jersey state law requires a well test on every home resale. A water sample is submitted to a lab for analysis, to confirm that the well is not contaminated.
The septic inspector will check to see that the tank has been pumped out and that
the laterals are not saturated. If the septic system is not functioning properly, then
a new lateral may have to be installed or repairs made.
The building inspection covers all major systems and parts of the house. It is important
that any stored items be moved away from the walls prior to the inspection so that the
inspector may observe everything. Typically, sellers will not agree to pay for any
upgrades suggested by the inspector, or for any functioning item which is nearing the
end of its expected life.
The tank sweep involves the use of a metal detector to check the grounds for any
abandoned underground oil tank. If the property contains such a tank, then the seller
will need to have it excavated and checked to see if any oil leaked into the soil.
In that case, the seller may bear a major expense in remediating the contamination,
under the oversight of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Your attorney will assist you in negotiating home inspection issues of concern,
and generally protecting and guiding you in the home purchasing process.