Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQs are broken into several categories. Click below to select a category.

Basics for First Time Buyers

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems. The intent is to provide each client with thorough, unbiased information so an informed purchase decision can be made. The inspection is neither an appraisal to determine value nor a municipal code inspection. The inspector does not pass or fail the home, but rather describe its physical condition and highlight the components in need of repair or replacement.

What does a US Inspect inspection include?

Our inspections exceed the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Standards of Practice and include the components below. Each client also receives an infrared thermal imaging scan at no additional cost.

Structure
Insulation and Ventilation
Roofing
Plumbing System
Exterior
Interior
Electrical System
Appliances
Heating and Cooling Systems
Fireplaces

Why do I need an inspection?

BUYERS – Buying a home is likely the single largest investment a person will ever make. Minimizing unpleasant surprises and unforeseen costs requires extensive knowledge of the home prior to purchase. A home inspection can identify needed repairs, builder oversights, and deferred maintenance issues which can lead to these surprises and costs. After the inspection, a more informed purchase decision can be made.

SELLERS – A pre-listing inspection allows potential sellers to make repairs on their schedule, using personally selected vendors. Performing repairs without the pressure of a pending real estate transaction saves money because vendors can be properly selected and multiple quotes obtained for comparison.

EXISTING HOMEOWNERS – The inspection can identify existing problems before they become larger and more costly in the future.

How long will the inspection last?

The duration of the inspection is dependent upon 2 key factors: size and condition of the home. A 600 square foot condo might only take 1.5 hours while a 10,000 square foot home could take an entire day. It is safe to assume that the average single family home will take 2.5 – 3 hours.

Why can’t I do it myself?

Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a full-time professional home inspector. Our familiarity with the elements of home construction include proper installation, maintenance and safety. We understand how the systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail. Additionally, buyers find it difficult to remain objective and unemotional which clouds their judgement. The inspector acts as an impartial, third-party professional to provide unbiased, accurate information.

Pricing

What does an inspection cost?

We believe in fair, transparent pricing, and our fees do not change based upon the week’s workload. In other words, we do not charge more when we are busy. Our fees begin at $295 and are based upon the total square footage. We base our fees on square footage since this is the best measure of the effort required on our part. All inspections include an infrared thermal imaging scan. Mold and radon testing are not included in the base fee.

US Inspect is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive inspection company. If you look around, you will find a cheaper company. However, US Inspect provides the best combination of price and value. As with any purchase, make sure to obtain an “apples to apples” comparison. The cheaper company may be less experienced, under insured, and may not answer the phone if an issue arises after the inspection.

Keep in mind, “The bitter taste of a bad inspection is remembered far longer than the sweetness of its price.”

Can I lower the price by excluding the infrared scan?

No. US Inspect has performed thousands of infrared inspections in Atlanta since 2005. Evidence strongly supports the importance of this step and highlights the many significant issues found with this technology. For your benefit, the infrared scan is always included. It’s simply too important.

Why do you charge extra for crawlspaces?

Since most homes do not have a crawlspace, it would not be fair to imbed a crawlspace fee into the overall fee for every home. Therefore, we only charge for crawlspaces when they are present.

Crawlspaces present a unique challenge for the inspector. In addition to the extra inspection time required, the inspector typically has to use a respirator, knee pads, and a protective suit. Crawlspaces also present inherent hazards such as standing water, exposed wiring, rodents (and their feces), and construction debris which must be climbed over and through.

How do I pay for the inspection?

In order of preference, US Inspect accepts credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express), check, and money order. Preferred payment is by credit card at the time services are rendered. If you cannot attend, you may call our office to provide credit card information or you will be prompted to make payment via credit card prior to downloading your report.

Foreclosure Homes

Will US Inspect turn on the utilities?

It is the client’s responsibility to ensure the water, electricity, and natural gas services are operable for a complete inspection. All main shut-offs should be in the “on” position and all components should be functional (i.e. furnace, water heater lighted and working). Please verify utilities in person rather than taking someone’s word for it. Often, utilities are disconnected when the seller moves or by the bank if the home is a foreclosure. Additionally, miscommunication can occur about the status of utilities.

Delays related to utilities can impact the due diligence period and possibly delay closing. Additionally, there is a $200 re-inspection fee if US Inspect must return and complete the inspection for utility related reasons. To minimize delays and costs, it is important to ensure the home is ready to be inspected.

What does de-winterizing mean?

Foreclosed homes are typically winterized by the bank to protect against bursting pipes during the winter. The home should be de-winterized prior to the inspection so all components can be evaluated. This includes turning on utilities, lighting pilot lights, filling the water heater, etc. The bank is responsible for preparing the home for an inspection, once the buyer has made the request. This process can take up to 7 days, depending on the utility status. If a home is found to be winterized upon arrival, US Inspect will either return when it can be inspected in full or perform a partial inspection and return at a later date to complete it. Either way, a re-inspect fee is required.

New Homes / Phase Inspections

Should I have a new home inspected?

Yes. US Inspect inspects many new homes each year and typically finds as many issues with new homes as with older ones. Sometimes the issues are mostly related to fit and finish, while other times they are much more significant. US Inspect’s new home inspections are conducted by ICC certified inspectors.

Keep in mind. . .

  • Do not rely solely upon any municipal code inspections which might have been done. While beneficial, these municipal inspections are usually brief (less than 30 minutes).
  • Code is the minimum standard to which a new home has to be built.
  • Many builders are not ICC code certified for structural, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical.
  • Home building is a complex, multi-stage process with many moving parts involving many subcontractors. There is ample opportunity for items to be overlooked, installed incorrectly, or for stages of the process to get out of order.
  • Builders’ quality assurance processes can be lacking or missing altogether.

What are phase inspections?

Many buyers of new homes obtain peace of mind by having it inspected in three stages: foundation, framing (often called pre-drywall), and final. These inspections are conducted by US Inspect’s ICC certified inspectors.

Foundation inspections are usually performed just prior to backfilling the soil against the foundation walls and after the forms have been removed from the concrete. This allows for inspection of the sewer and drain lines prior to laying the slab. Additionally, the footings, drain tiles, waterproofing, etc. can be inspected at this time.

Framing inspections are conducted just prior to the sheetrock being installed. This allows inspection of mechanical and electrical rough-in of equipment, framing, foundation, etc. Typical flaws are cracked framing, damaged ductwork, improper notching, and inadequate fire stop material. These items must be found at this stage of construction if they are to be remedied. Once the drywall is installed, the defect is never found or is much more costly to remedy if it creates a future problem.

The final inspection is just as it sounds. . . a full inspection with which most buyers are familiar. It is conducted after the home is completed, but before the builder walk-through prior to closing. This allows items to be added to the builder’s final punchlist for remedy before closing.

When should I schedule my phase inspection?

Phase inspections require close coordination between the buyer and the builder. Once the home is ready for drywall installation, the builder will not hesitate to begin this stage of the process, thus eliminating the opportunity for a framing inspection. Communicate early and often with your builder to ensure they know which inspections you intend to have performed. Also, keep US Inspect notified of the anticipated inspection dates, as they are likely to change due to the builder’s schedule and any weather related delays.

Scheduling

When should I schedule my inspection?

The inspection should be scheduled immediately after the purchase contract is binding. This allows maximum flexibility in ensuring US Inspect can meet your timeline. Appointments are usually available within 2-3 days of your call, but next day appointments can be available if there has been a cancellation. If you plan to have a radon test (highly advised) or a mold test (as needed) conducted, please know they require extra time to complete.

When should I schedule my new home phase inspection?

Phase inspections require close coordination between the buyer and the builder. Once the home is ready for drywall installation, the builder will not hesitate to begin this stage of the process, thus eliminating the opportunity for a framing inspection. Communicate early and often with your builder to ensure they know which inspections you intend to have performed. Also, keep US Inspect notified of the anticipated inspection dates, as they are likely to change due to the builder’s schedule and any weather related delays.

Will US Inspect turn on the utilities?

It is the client’s responsibility to ensure the water, electricity, and natural gas services are operable for a complete inspection. All main shut-offs should be in the “on” position and all components should be functional (i.e. furnace, water heater lighted and working). Please verify utilities in person rather than taking someone’s word for it. Often, utilities are disconnected when the seller moves or by the bank if the home is a foreclosure. Additionally, miscommunication can occur about the status of utilities.

Delays related to utilities can impact the due diligence period and possibly delay closing. Additionally, there is a $200 re-inspection fee if US Inspect must return and complete the inspection for utility related reasons. To minimize delays and costs, it is important to ensure the home is ready to be inspected.

What does de-winterizing mean?

Foreclosed homes are typically winterized by the bank to protect against bursting pipes during the winter. The home should be de-winterized prior to the inspection so all components can be evaluated. This includes turning on utilities, lighting pilot lights, filling the water heater, etc. The bank is responsible for preparing the home for an inspection, once the buyer has made the request. This process can take up to 7 days, depending on the utility status. If a home is found to be winterized upon arrival, US Inspect will either return when it can be inspected in full or perform a partial inspection and return at a later date to complete it. Either way, a re-inspect fee is required.

Why do you ask for a CBS code?

A CBS code is required for the inspector to access the home with his lockbox key. This allows the inspector to start on time should the Realtor run late due to traffic, etc.

Do I need a Dekalb County Low Flow Plumbing certificate?

If the home is located in unincorporated Dekalb County and built before 1993, most likely yes. Dekalb County requires this document in order to place the water service in the new buyer’s name (and turn on the water). US Inspect will provide this document, assuming the home passes the requirements set forth by Dekalb County. For further details, click HERE. It is the client’s responsibility to verify if this document is required and to request it prior to completion of the inspection. Alternately, the client may have a plumber visit the home to provide the document.

Radon Testing

Should I test my home for radon?

Yes. The EPA and the United States Surgeon General stress that every home should be tested for radon due to the known health risk. According to the EPA, Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Dekalb counties have the highest predicted radon levels in Georgia. The remaining metro Atlanta counties have the 2nd highest predicted levels. For more information click HERE.

During the Inspection

Can I attend the inspection? Do I have to be there?

We suggest that you attend the inspection, if only for a portion of the time. Most clients attend for the last hour of the inspection to better understand the inspector’s process and findings and to ask questions. Even though everything will be documented in the report, discussing important information in person promotes better understanding of the issues by the client

If you are unable to attend the inspection, it’s OK. We have many out of town clients who cannot attend.

Do you inspect swimming pools and septic tanks?

These components fall outside the scope of a home inspection. Due to the wide variety of pool equipment and the inaccessibility of septic systems, we suggest using a qualified specialist for these components. At the time of booking your inspection, we can provide referrals for these services at no charge. Also, we do not receive compensation from these vendors for referring them.

After the Inspection

When will I receive my report?

US Inspect’s goal is to complete the inspection report prior to 5PM the day after the inspection. Often times, it will be available much sooner. Once the report is uploaded to our system, you will receive a notification email that it is ready. Prior to accessing your report, you will be required to sign the inspection agreement and make payment electronically if not already completed.

What if the report reveals problems?

No home is perfect, and it’s highly unlikely the home will be defect free. The report does not provide a “pass” or “fail” rating. The intent is to provide unbiased information so an informed purchase decision can be made. Further discussion with your Realtor will determine which issues you are willing to handle yourself and which issues the Seller might be willing to fix.

Can I call after the inspection with questions about the inspection and report?

Absolutely. Our service does not end with the actual inspection. Feel free to call anytime with any home related questions. If we can’t answer your question, we will refer you to someone who can.

Do you provide a warranty?

No. We stand behind our work as professionals and welcome your feedback. It is unreasonable for us to warranty a home because: A) US Inspect is not a warranty company and B) US Inspect cannot control the home between the inspection and the buyers moving in. Items can be broken by the sellers (normal wear and tear) or by one of the many people entering a home during its time on the market.

Some inspection companies do offer a “warranty”. They are provided to clients at minimal cost to the inspection company (~$15 each). This is an attempt to push responsibility for their oversights to another company… the warranty company. They wash their hands of the issue and move on to the next client. As you can imagine, these warranties include many disclaimers and exceptions regarding coverage.

How do I verify that repairs were completed and done correctly?

US Inspect highly recommends obtaining copies of receipts and warranties for any work performed by contractors, especially if they were not selected by the buyer. This is your only warranty for this work. If you are unable to verify that repairs were made, US Inspect offers a re-inspection of repairs service. The fee for this service is $200.