What 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 Inspection is 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 the $300-$500 range is typical. The inspection may take an hour for a small 1 bedroom condo or 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/Test is 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. Some areas and homes are at a higher risk than others – particularly homes with a below grade basement and/or little air circulation. Remediation for radon is typically in the $700-$1400 range.
If a home has a chimney I will often recommend a chimney inspection. A home inspector may inspect the outside of the chimney and the firebox for obvious issues, they are rarely 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. 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 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 come and inspect the waste lines with a camera. Especially in older homes the sewage line could have issues with just age or large tree roots ripping the line apart. A camera inspection of the sewer lines is in the $500-$1000 – so it is not really something buyers would do for every purchase. However, if there are signs of issues (ten old roto-router stickers on the sewer cleanup may be one of them…) it may be a worthwhile investments. Replacing a sewer line can get very expensive.
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 thorough 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.