Radon, Mold and Sewer, Oh My!

Do you remember the good old days when all you had to do before buying a home was a standard inspection? I am sure that there are people who are reading this and saying, “Inspection? We didn’t need no stinking inspection do buy a home.” Yes, I believe that there are some of you out there who did so and think that inspections are not necessary. In some cases of buying a home today you are correct an inspection would not be necessary say in the case of a fix and flip. What has surprised me is the vast amount of adjunct inspection services that are not only available, but almost seem standard before closing a deal.

Not so long ago, a buyer would order an inspection, resolve the issues with the seller, and then purchase the home. That was all you did and that was the standard procedure. Then radon tests started gaining popularity. I understand why given our soil conditions here in Colorado. It’s a smart thing to do, but it’s an add-on service in the inspection. Radon tests used to be an option for the buyer, but now I rarely see anyone do an inspection without a radon test.

In the last year or two, sewer scopes seem to be the hot inspection item of the day. I see more and more buyers requesting a sewer scope even if it’s a fairly new property with no trees in the front yard. I was speaking with my friends at Home Systems Data (they are the inspection company that I use) and they too have seen a rise in the number of people asking for sewer scopes. Better yet, they say that their number one and number two most requested adjunct services are radon and mold testing. Colorado is a fairly dry place, but we are not immune from molds and given the fact that this has been linked to many respiratory problems and diseases, I see why people test for it. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how my grandmother lived so many years in that house that had nothing more than a root cellar and smelled like mold every time I went down there. Lisa Hemphill, business manager for Home Systems Data, says that the Methamphetamine test (or Meth test) to find out if the house was used as a meth lab is running a close third on requested services.

If you really want to go all out on the home inspection, you could order what I call “The Full Monte” (because you’ll be stripping that house down) which would include a standard inspection, radon test, sewer scope, mold test, lead test, asbestos test, meth test, stucco inspection, and structural report. I hate to think what that will set you back just to see if the home is worthy to live in. My guess is that if you walk into the house and you have an inkling that you will need all the tests mentioned above before you buy it, maybe you should walk out.

So here’s the question… are they all necessary? They all do serve a purpose and it’s unlikely that you’ll need all the tests. Yet, I run into people every day who live by the motto, “You can’t be too careful.” and expect these folks to order them all when they put an offer on your home.

Dan Polimino is a Realtor with Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty. He can be reached at DPolimino@fullerproperties.com and www.coloradodreamhouse.com/denverpost

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