Note: I can not stress enough the importance of having an inspection done by an experienced home inspector. However, I have seen all of these things missed and I have even seen inspectors miss 6 of these on a single house. My most important concern is my client living in a safe, functional home. Bring this list to your inspection, he'll be thrilled.

  1. Partially Blocked or Damaged Sewer Lines
    Trees or stumps near the sewer pipe could cause damage. Sewer-pipe scoping (sending a camera down the line) isn’t typically included in a standard inspection.

  2. Failing Central Air Conditioning
    Air conditioners when temperatures are moderate, can seem fine, but when temperatures get warm, the unit may not cool the house efficiently, or even fail completely. Bring an HVAC contractor to the inspection or possibly pay $5000-$10000 later. Also, testing below 60 degrees can damage the unit, so inspection might not be available depending on the time of year.

  3. Cracked Heat Exchanger
    Have an HVAC contractor examine the heat exchanger if a furnace is more than 10 years old, because Carbon Monoxide could leak into the house. Interesting fact, haunted houses are being debunked for carbon monoxide poisoning. 

  4. Electrical Problems
    When it comes to electrical issues, inspectors can’t always determine the problem’s source. A home inspector is not a licensed electrician. Bank owned properties will not normally let you turn on electric for inspection due to potential risk of fire or of course electrocution.

  5. Structural Issues
    A home inspector is not a structural engineer, and neither am I, so I won't elaborate too much. Look for cracks in the foundation and use a level. Also, look for temporary posts in the basement, or worse, missing ones. People love to remove and/or move them to open the basement to fit furniture and other items. Eventually the house may sag. 

  6. Leaks
    Leaks may not be there one day and show up the next. For this reason, inspectors might not initially detect them. If there is a failure to disclose, the seller will later say “it never happened to us”.

  7. Septic
    Get a septic expert to inspect. A new septic system could cost $15,000 - $30,000 later on, when a less expensive repair could be negotiated now. Also, check to see if there is an option to connect to the city. If there is a cesspool, you only have one year to replace it after you buy the home in RI. Get an estimate, it sometimes can be rolled into your mortgage.

  8. Well Problems
    An inspector will not know how much water you have unless he runs it full blast for quite some time. They may not miss offering a water bacteria test, but they will probably charge you extra. Test water for radon too if it needs to be mitigated in the air.

  9. Roof
    Get an inspector that's willing to get on the roof and check the flashing, gutters, ventilation, etc. I know a guy!

  10. Mold
    Inspectors don’t have x-ray vision and can’t see behind walls. Any mold they do find, they can’t tell you it is mold because they are not licensed to do so. They can only legally say that there is a mold like substance. The most common black mold symptoms are chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches. If there is a sump pump, evidence of water damage, homes with bank owned history or old roofs with poor ventilation, test for mold.

  11. Asbestos
    Special testing is required and not normally included in an inspection. Insulation between 1930-1950 was mostly asbestos. If your home was built before 1977, get this tests done. Asbestos causes lung cancer, however, it can be sealed and made safe as long as you don't remove it yourself, saw or drill into it.

  12. Lead
    If your home was built before 1978, get a lead test done. Inhaling microscopic amounts of lead can cause brain damage. Exposure to lead wreaks havoc in the brain, with consequences that include lower IQ and reduced potential for learning. We are required by law to give these to every one that buys a home. Click here: 
    LeadPoisoningProtectYourFamily.pdf

  13. Radon
    Inspectors charge a fortune and usually don't want to pick the test up several days later to mail to the lab. They usually try to make someone else do it, I have seen it too many times. You can order a "Duel" charcoal test kit online for 1/10 the price, ask if the seller will mail it. You are trusting the seller to not tamper with it while the test is being done, you can trust the seller to mail it for you. Assure the seller that it is not a deal breaker if it comes back over the limit, the solution is easily remedied. It literally takes 30 seconds to put the charcoal cartridge in a box, then in the mail, everything is pre-paid and filled out in advance. The lab later emails you the results. Air mitigation systems are around $1000. However, if you have high radon, it might be in the water too. Radon water mitigation can cost $5000. Get it tested. Radon causes lung cancer. Oddly, radon is random, it can be in one house, and not in the house next door.

  14. Plumbing 
    Bank owned properties will not normally let you turn on water for inspection due to potential burst pipes. Make sure they run the hot water long enough for a 10 minute shower at least. Tankless hot water units are sometimes weak at best when it comes to efficiency. We had to get an electric hot water electric tank to compensate. 

  15. Insects and Rodents
    Like the air conditioning, you may not see evidence of ants and other infestations until certain times of the year. Many inspectors can't or won't fit in the crawl spaces above and sometimes below a house. Look for droppings, torn pieces of insulation, saw dust. Look for tiny  holes in the wooden beams in the basement, poke it with a screwdriver. I have seen screwdrivers
    penetrate the wood beams supporting a house like styrofoam, and I think to myself, I am actually standing under this...

Remember: Caveat Emptor- Buyer Beware!

  • A home inspector does not need a certification in RI.

  • One third of all U.S. states have no certification or training programs in place for housing inspectors.

  • Two in five existing homes suffer from some type of major defect.

  • Not all inspectors carry "Errors and Omissions" coverage.

  • Inspectors are not legally responsible If they miss something.

  • It is a conflict of interest to have an inspector do the repairs.

  • Once you close, you have no recourse if something is wrong.

Thanks for reading!

Please feel free to post comments that might add to this list...