What you need to get Inspected When Buying a Home
By Rick Stump

Can you tell us a little about your company and its foundation.
Suburban Property Inspections Inc. is a family owned and operated business located at 4600 Kutztown Road, Temple, PA 19560. Established in 1989, SPI has inspected many thousands of homes. Our primary business is inspecting homes during the sale of a home. We offer Home inspections, on-site Septic System’s Inspections, Well inspections, Radon Testing, Wood Destroying Insect (termite) Inspections, Mold Testing and Water Testing. We are also the source for water testing for individual private well and real estate water testing for Suburban Testing Labs; a company owned by the same family.

Buying a home is exciting, there is nothing quite like owning your own home! At the same time it can be stressful. So many decisions to make, so many homes to choose from, so many papers to sign, so much money, so many things to consider; it can make your head spin. Not to mention fear; what if you buy the proverbial money pit?
Help is available. It is up to you to pick out the perfect home in the perfect location, your realtor can help you with the mountains of paperwork. Suburban Property inspections can help you to understand what you are buying and in some cases avoid the money pit. In the past mortgage providers insisted on inspections to protect their investment and the buyer benefited from this protection as well. A few years ago when mortgage providers made a variety of foolish mistakes and got themselves and our entire economy in trouble, they dropped their requirements for inspections. A few are coming to their senses and requiring them again but you cannot count on them having any requirements. It is up to you to specify what inspections you want when you sign the agreement of sale. This is your one and only chance to ask for inspections of your prospective home purchase. I know that reading contracts can be incredibly boring and often is an instant cure for insomnia but, if you are interested in a sample of the contract used by many Realtors you can find a sample at: When you sign this form you may be spending more money than you ever have before, it is a good time to actually know what you are signing.

Why Hire a Professional?
Uncle Joe vs. Professional Home Inspection

Why not just take Uncle Joe along to see the house and save a couple dollars? Our business is also training home inspectors. We look for people like Uncle Joe who have a thirst for learning and have been exposed to a variety of the systems of a home. Then, we train them for months before they are ready to inspect their first home along with an experienced home inspector. Your friend might be cheaper than hiring a professional but is no substitute and it may cost you a bundle in the long run. Every home purchase needs a professional home inspection, add on inspections are a little more difficult to decide on. For instance do I need a mold in air test? The answer is yes if there is a moldy smell in the home or if you individually have a sensitivity to mold. If the house has visible mold or water intrusion these should be addressed first, and when eliminated, a mold in air test is appropriate.

How about a radon in air test?
Eastern Pennsylvania is home to some of the highest residential indoor radon levels in the world. Unless a test was performed within the last two years, you want a radon test. There is nothing worse than living in a home for decades, deciding to sell and then finding out that you have subjected yourself and your family to excessive radiation from radon. The irony is that you pay for the system for the new buyer and never get the benefit from it.

Do I need a septic inspection?
City homes generally have public sewer and do not need a septic inspection. On-site septic systems should always be inspected at the time of sale. Here is where it can get somewhat complicated. If the home is vacant it presents somewhat of a unique situation. A septic systems job is to dispose of liquid waste, a vacant home doesn’t have any! Please discuss this with our office as there are some solutions.

Do I need a well inspection?
If you have public water the answer is no. If you have a private well consider a well inspection. Water testing is considered later, but a poorly constructed well can lead to intermittent contamination. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Do I need a water test?
If you have public water the answer is maybe. If you have a private well the answer is definitely. The responsibility for private well testing rests entirely with the homeowner. While a private well and septic systems avoid the exorbitant water and sewer charges of a public system they should not be considered as being free. Call our office to discuss testing options or visit our website.  Testing the water before a home purchase can avoid some very unpleasant experiences.

What about termites?
This is one inspection that your mortgage provider may require, they don’t want to hold the mortgage on a home where there may be damage happening from wood destroying insects. Be sure to specify this on your agreement of sale in case the mortgage provider doesn’t. Our inspectors are all licensed pest control operators certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. One of our service marks is “Know What to Expect “INSPECT!” This simple statement is a testament to our desire to educate and inform purchasers of a home. We have met some inspectors that claim to know it all?. In fact back when we started in 1989 a few of us thought we knew it all as well. It didn’t take long to find out that a good inspector never stops learning. Each new inspector that we hired brought a new set of knowledge to our pool of inspectors. No single inspector knows it all. At SPI, we share our knowledge between inspectors. One may be better at electrical, another roofing, another plumbing. Cross training brings it all together making for an excellent inspection experience. We are still learning and growing and we would like to share our vast pool of knowledge with you. While Pennsylvania law prohibits a home inspector from doing repairs to a home that he has inspected some of the other add-on inspections do not. Our policy at SPI is to have no conflict of interest, therefore we offer no repairs. You can therefore always trust our findings, and never wonder if the fox was guarding the henhouse.

What if we find some defects during our inspection?
Nearly all houses have some defects. It is a rare occasion for a home inspection to not find a few things wrong. Generally speaking, minor issues are to be expected. If more serious issues are found negotiations with the seller to repair or adjust the price accordingly can be made.

Do I have to attend the home inspection?
The short answer is no. The real answer is yes you will want to be there. While we go to great lengths to make our reports accurate and easy to understand, there is no substitute to seeing the issues with a home firsthand and being able to ask questions while you are looking at the problem. We are often asked; what are the most common problems with a home? While each home is different, problems that are serious usually involve water. This year, homes that have been winterized due to being vacant have had an unusual amount of leaks. Leaks in attic from roofing problems are common, along with poor ventilation of attics and improper venting of bathrooms and dryers into attic spaces. Negative grading around foundations causes cracked foundations and water intrusion. Electrical system defects are still quite common. Lack of inspections on the part of mortgage providers has led to some houses with extensive wood destroying insect damage.

How can one reach your business?
Give us a call during normal business hours 8-4 M-F We will provide you with a customized quote, and answer all of your questions. Multiple service discounts apply. We can be reached at 1-866-866-6700 or online.