Which inspections are common when buying a home in Northern Virginia? The short answer is that it varies depending on the age and type of home. In the Northern Virginia area (like Fairfax County, Loudoun County etc) the most common inspection would be a general Home Inspection. As this area also has radon, radon testing is also done regularly.
A general Home Inspectionis a great way to get an overview of the condition of the home and to identify potential trouble spots. I recommend a home inspection to all my clients (though the need for one may vary based on the type of home and the experience/knowledge of the purchaser.) The price of a home inspection will vary based on the type and size of property, but a $300-$500 range is typical. Time-wise the inspection may take an hour for a small 1 bedroom condo to 4-5 hours for a larger home (and more for mansions with a lot of complicated systems.)
Radon is prevalent in many Northern Virginia areas so a Radon Inspection/Testis often a worthwhile investment for the peace of mind it will give you and your family. A radon test may cost $150 or so and will let you know if the levels in a home are above the maximum recommended EPA level of 4.0. Some areas and homes are at a higher risk than others – particularly homes with a below grade basement and little air circulation. Remediation for radon is typically in the $700-$1400 range.
If a home has a chimney I would usually recommend a chimney inspection. A home inspector may inspect the outside of the chimney and the firebox for obvious issues, they rarely will be able to discover serious chimney issues. Chimneys issues are almost always expensive to fix and often cannot be deferred as they are safety issues. A cracked liner or leaning chimney can cost in the $10’s of thousands to replace or repair in worst case. Contrast that with a $75 to $150 inspection and you quickly see how the small upfront inspection expense is worth it.
If the plumbing in a home appears to have issues with water draining, or there is a bright green fertilized line in front of the home (could be a sign of waste line breakage), you may want to have a plumber from http://www.thompsonfamilyplumbing.com come and inspect the waste lines with a camera. Especially in older homes the sewage line could have issues with just age or large trees having roots ripping the line apart. An inspection of the sewer lines is in the $500-$1000 so not really something buyers would do for every purchase. However, if there are signs of issues (10 roto-router stickers on the sewer cleanup may be one of them…), it may be a worthwhile investments as replacing a sewer line to the street will quickly become an issue.
The general home inspection will often identify additional areas of concern and may prompt you to get electricians, plumbers, roofers, HVAC people etc to come and do a more specific inspection.
There are multiple other inspections you will need if the home is on a well or has a septic or drainfield system, has a pool, has soil or erosion issues etc. Also, if there are oil tanks on the property (abandoned or still being used) you will likely want those checked out as well.
In closing – remember that no home is perfect. There will always be issues. However, with all the necessary inspections done you can purchase the home with the confidence of knowing what you are getting yourself into.
If you are looking to purchase a home in Northern Virginia, we can help! Call us at 703 560-3424 or contact us anytime.