The Due Diligence Period is the time during your contract period in which you will conduct any and all inspections on the home you are purchasing.
The general home inspection is perhaps the most important $300-400 you will spend during your home shopping process. Your inspector will provide you with a detailed report on the condition of the home, including the plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, the air conditioning and furnace units, the appliances, and any other aspect of the home that is important to its structural and functional soundness. The general home inspection is conducted by a home inspector that you choose and hire (see below for How To Choose a Home Inspector) who will spend between two and four hours at the home (depending on its size). I recommend that you attend your home inspection in the last 30 to 45 minutes to go over the report findings with your inspector; as your REALTOR®, I will also be in attendance during this time. This will give you a firsthand look at the findings and allow you to make educated choices when it comes time for us to put together the list of repairs we will submit to the seller.
How To Choose a Home Inspector:
Choosing a home inspector is an important part of the process. As your REALTOR®, I can recommend a list of home inspectors that my clients have used in the past and given great feedback for; I also recommend you ask friends and family for referrals to inspectors they have used. You may also want to consult the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) website to cross reference any referrals you receive. Because Virginia does not have a home inspection licensing board or certification process, ASHI is an excellent resource for home inspection professionals; this “not-for-profit professional association for home inspectors made its first order of business to establish and advocate high standards of practice and a strict code of ethics for the member community.”
In addition to a general home inspection, which assesses the condition of the property and all of its systems, you may want to consider a number of other types of inspections:
- Radon Inspection: Radon is “a chemically inert, radioactive gaseous element produced by the decay of radium; its emissions are produced by outgassing of rock,brick, etc. and are a health hazard. A radon inspector will deposit two canisters at the home and will pick them up 48 to 72 hours later. He can then read the radon level in the home and will provide you with a report of the findings. Many home inspection companies have a radon division. You can read more about radon in Virginia and view a map of areas of high concentration by visiting the United States Environmental Protection Agency website and clicking on Virginia on the map.
- Termite Inspection: There’s a saying in Virginia: there are two kinds of homes in Virginia – those that have had termites and those that will get them. Termites are not something to be afraid of, but they are something to get inspected. A termite inspection will determine if there is currently or has previously been termite infestation and/or damage to the home. Many homeowners in Virginia have a termite bond, an annual insurance policy issued by a termite/pest control company that provides termite monitoring service and, in some cases, a repair warranty in the event of damage. In my opinion, even homes with a bond should be inspected.
- Pool Inspection: If you are purchasing a home with a pool, it is a good idea to have a pool inspection. This will help you to assess the condition of the pool and whether or not it needs servicing or repair. A pool can be a great bonus to a home purchase, but it can also be very costly if it has not been properly maintained.
- Septic Tank Inspection: Some areas in the Hampton Roads area are not connected to a sewer service, so the homes each have a septic tank instead. A thorough septic tank inspection is money well spent to assess to its condition and the possible lifespan left on the septic system. A septic tank replacement can be very costly, so conducting a septic tank inspection is a vital part of your home purchase, if the area is not connected to a sewer system.
- Structural Inspection: You may determine the need for a structural inspection in a few ways. First, if you notice large cracks in the foundation of the home, in the floor or walls of the basement, or around doors and windows, you may want to hire a structural engineer/inspector. Second, if you’ve noticed that the ground outside the property has shifted substantially or you see evidence of a sinkhole near the home, you may choose to consult a structural engineer. Finally, if your general home inspector has concern about the structural integrity of a property, he or she may suggest a more detailed structural inspection.
Once you have completed all of your inspections, we will compile an Inspection Contingency Removal Addendum, in which we will list all of the items that we wish to have the seller repair prior to closing. We will reference the inspection report(s) and include copies of the applicable report(s) when we submit the Addendum. This will begin a second negotiation process with the seller, much like the contract negotiation, and we will attempt to come to a mutual agreement on the repairs, again keeping in mind that the goal is for it to be a win/win for all parties, with each making concessions and coming out with an agreed-upon list.
A walk-through of the property just prior to closing will allow us to determine whether the seller has completed all of the items we’ve requested. For some items, if they cannot be visually inspected or if they have to do with a mechanical system on the property, you may choose to bring your home inspector back to re-inspect those items, at your expense.