Whether you’re considering buying a new construction home or a fixer-upper, it’s important to find out the condition of the house you want to purchase. This is where a home inspection comes in.
Home inspections can save you thousands of dollars in future repair costs and uncover problems that aren’t apparent to an untrained observer.
While home inspections are optional, they are an important part of buying a home. Here’s what you need to know about a home inspection in New Jersey.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of the structural and mechanical systems in a home, including the heating and air-conditioning systems, plumbing, walls, ceiling and foundation.
A home inspection typically takes several hours to complete. A house does not pass or fail a home inspection; within a few days, the inspector will produce a report that includes recommendations for repairs and replacements.
“Many people believe that a home inspection is like an insurance policy,” says Kate Wilhelmi, founder of Tried-and-True Home Inspections in Medford, New Jersey. “It is not. It’s a tool along with many other tools that you have to educate yourself when you are purchasing a property.”
How much does a NJ home inspection cost?
A typical home inspection in New Jersey can cost $300 to $500 or more, depending on the location and size of the home. In Trenton, for example, the average price is $420, according to HomeAdvisor.
Who pays for a home inspection?
It is the buyer’s responsibility to hire and pay for a home inspector. While you are not required to attend the inspection, being there will allow you to ask questions and learn more about the home you wish to buy.
Some sellers choose to have their homes inspected before they list them. This is known as a pre-inspection. If certain types of defects are uncovered during the pre-inspection, sellers may be legally required to disclose them. However, buyers should still have a home inspection done and get their own report, whether or not there was a pre-inspection.
» MORE: Home inspection do’s and don’ts
How to choose a home inspector in New Jersey
Begin your search for a qualified inspector by visiting the website of the American Society of Home Inspectors or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, says Wilhelmi. Both organizations allow you to search for certified home inspectors on their websites. She also notes that Google searches and online reviews can be helpful.
It’s important to choose an inspector who is insured, says Anthony Russo, owner of Focal Point Home Inspections in Ringwood, New Jersey. Not only does that protect the home buyer, but also the inspector in the case of an error or omission or if they get injured. He says that a home inspector with a construction background is an added bonus.
New Jersey home inspection checklist
While radon tests and oil tank sweeps may not be included in a standard home inspection, Russo says both of these potential environmental hazards should be investigated when buying a home in New Jersey.
Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally and causes lung cancer. One in 6 New Jersey homes has elevated levels of radon, according to a 2017 release from the New Jersey Department of Health. If your home inspection doesn’t include a radon test, Russo says it’s worth paying for it.
Oil tank sweep: Underground heating oil tanks, which are not uncommon in New Jersey, can leak and contaminate soil and groundwater. Oil tank sweeps are checks performed with special tools to see if a heating oil tank is buried on the property. While oil tank sweeps may cost between $200 and $300, Russo says the tests are important, especially for older homes in New Jersey.
While a home inspector is trained to spot problems with the house, there are some things they can’t see. Russo says based on what he uncovers in the inspection, he may advise home buyers to conduct one or more of these additional inspections or systems checks:
He notes that the above will likely come at an additional cost and may require specialized training or equipment.