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Buying a home in the Nutmeg State? Before closing day, you'll want to get a home inspection to give you a better idea of whether your new house comes with any significant problems. Here's what you should know about getting a home inspection in Connecticut.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a basic evaluation of the house you're planning to buy. Home inspections generally happen after your offer's been accepted but before you've closed on the property.
The home inspection is distinct from the appraisal, which gives the lender assurance that the price you're paying (in other words, what they're lending you) is in line with the property's value. The inspection is there to help buyers know whether the house is structurally sound and its systems are in working order.
During the inspection, the home inspector will look over the home's exterior and interior, making note of any potential issues they see. This generally includes checking that the plumbing, heating and electrical systems are functional. They'll look at every room, as well as the roof, siding and foundation. Often, the inspector will make sure major appliances are operable.
After the inspection, you'll receive a report letting you know what issues they found. These can help you decide if you want to negotiate with the seller to have them lower the price or make repairs.
How much does a CT home inspection cost?
According to HomeAdvisor, a Connecticut home inspection costs about $475. That's a bit higher than the national average, which is closer to $400.
Why does it cost more? For one, some home inspections include age as a factor in pricing: The older the house, the more you'll pay. Connecticut has older housing stock than much of the country.
The median age of U.S. houses was 41 years in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while for Connecticut the median age was 54 — and more than 20% of homes were over 80 years old.
Size is the other key variable. "For the structural and mechanical portion, which is the standard home inspection for the state of Connecticut, I use square footage," says Ryan Hartman, who owns Anchor Home Inspection in southeastern Connecticut. "I start at 1,000 feet or less for $300, and go up from there."
A tight crawl space could also tack on an extra fee. Hartman notes that these require wearing personal protective equipment and can be difficult to access, so home inspectors often charge more for properties with crawl spaces.
Who pays for a home inspection?
The buyer pays for the home inspection. Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you'll ever make, and the home inspection can give you peace of mind about making this major investment.
Worst-case scenario, the home inspection uncovers a problem large enough that you back out of the deal. Best-case scenario, which Hartman says is common, the home inspection turns up only cosmetic or maintenance issues, and you’ve learned whether any of them need prompt attention.
The seller may offer you a "pre-inspection" or a copy of their home inspection report. While these can be worth reading over, they don't give you the whole story; these just show you the chapter that began when the sellers bought the house.
Sellers' disclosures (which are required by Connecticut state law) may give you an idea of certain types of issues that came up during the sellers' tenure, but again, they aren't a substitute for a home inspection.
» MORE: Home inspection do’s and don’ts
How to choose a home inspector in Connecticut
Hartman recommends talking to any friends or family members who have recently bought homes about their experiences with home inspection. You can also look to professional organizations like the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors or the Connecticut Association of Home Inspectors to find home inspectors near you.
Connecticut home inspectors are required to hold state licenses, so you should verify your home inspector's credentials on the state's license lookup website. "I'm a fan of licensing because it evens the playing field in terms of the minimum level of knowledge that you can have," says Hartman, who is InterNACHI-certified as a master inspector.
In Connecticut, a home inspection license tells you the inspector has done at least 100 home inspections as an intern, completed an approved training program and passed an exam. Home inspectors have to complete an additional 20 hours of continuing education and training every two years in order to renew their licenses.
Connecticut home inspection checklist
A standard home inspection in Connecticut includes a visual inspection of the premises as well as basic testing of mechanical systems. That's not really different from other states. But depending on where in Connecticut you're looking to buy — and what time of year you're buying — there may be specific issues to consider.
If it's cold outside, your home inspector won't be able to test the air conditioning. "Most manufacturers say you can't test it if it's colder than 65 degrees," Hartman says, so "there's really no way to tell if it's working or not until you need it." If the house has an older system, Hartman says he often suggests buyers talk to their real estate agent about getting a home warranty. Lack of maintenance on heating and cooling systems is a common problem he sees in Connecticut.
Snow can also be an issue. "With a snow-covered roof, it's a visual, non-invasive inspection," Hartman says. If the attic space is finished, the home inspector won't be able to look at the sheathing and check for signs of moisture intrusion.
Radon is a common issue in southeastern Connecticut. Radon testing is not within the scope of a normal home inspection, so to have it evaluated, you'd need to find a home inspector who is certified to test for radon or request a separate radon inspection. Hartman notes this as one reason why, even in a small state, having a local real estate agent who knows the area well can be an asset. An agent from another county might not be as informed about localized issues like radon or well water.
Hartman says that most foundation cracks he sees are what you'd expect to see from a house settling, and simply need to be sealed. However, crumbling foundations have made the news in recent years, found in homes built between 1983 and 2015 in northeastern Connecticut. If you're concerned about potential foundation problems, you may want to look for an inspector who's been certified by the Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Company; if the home meets certain criteria, you may be eligible to be reimbursed for the cost of the testing.