A few questions about rehab inspections

7 Replies

I'm getting ready to buy my first rehab project in September. I have many potential deals from wholesalers in my email inbox.

I called my home inspector and he said he doesn't inspect for: termites, mold, lead paint, or asbestos.

These are all potentially major issues that I'm not sure I can identify by myself. Do I really need to get a separate inspector out there for each of these issues? Is that what you do? Wouldn't that take forever and be expensive?

Also, some people have warned me that once I start tearing down drywall, I will find a whole host of problems that I didn't expect. But why would I tear down drywall unless I'm removing or replacing walls? In which case, if there were problems behind the drywall, no one would know. A standard home inspection has no idea what's going on behind the drywall. What could be back there?

Is there anything else I'm potentially missing that could spell doom for my first project?

Termite report is cheap any decent pest control company does them. Mold only needs to be tested if you have reason to believe there is an issue (and damp areas). Asbestos isn't something that's generally tested for and most places don't care if asbestos is present as long as its not exposed, and would only be found on homes built up until the early 70's. Lead based paint is another item that fell out of favor in the 70's and any contractor doing work should be able to test and remediate if necessary for an additional charge. Again only a potential issue if your property is old enough.

Originally posted by @Dave Melton :

Termite report is cheap any decent pest control company does them. Mold only needs to be tested if you have reason to believe there is an issue (and damp areas). Asbestos isn't something that's generally tested for and most places don't care if asbestos is present as long as its not exposed, and would only be found on homes built up until the early 70's. Lead based paint is another item that fell out of favor in the 70's and any contractor doing work should be able to test and remediate if necessary for an additional charge. Again only a potential issue if your property is old enough.

 As far as lead paint goes, I read that it was outlawed in 1978. This might want to be something I look for ahead of time, seeing as it will cost many thousands of dollars to remove. Correct me if I'm wrong?

Asbestos was banned in 1973. I don't even know what it looks like or where exactly it would be found in the home?

Wouldn't these be major issues for the buyer? I bought a house last year that was built in 1973 and neither of these things were even mentioned.

Most inspectors work with a licensed pest control inspector who will do a wood destroying insect inspection. If you're getting a mortgage, this will likely (though not always) be necessary. I think a termite/pest inspection is money well spent.

Most inspectors will be able to identify things that _may_ be asbestos. Unfortunately, there are things that look like asbestos contains materials, that don't have it, and other things that look 'clean' but do contain it. A good inspector can make some educated guesses, but the only way to know for sure is to have a sample tested.
Remember though, asbestos is only an issue when disturbed. So if you happen to have some hidden away somewhere, it's not a health issue until you start working with it.

Mold is typically easy to spot. You expect to see a little here and there, especially in a bathroom, etc. The inspector will highlight if there is any excessive mold. Most of turnstile, the leak or whatever is giving mold the moisture is more of an issue than the mold itself.

As for lead paint, if the house was built before 1978 and has painted trim, it likely has lead paint. Similar to asbestos, as long as it's in good condition, it's not an issue. BUT it's worth learning more about it as a landlord and your state/city landlord tenant laws because some areas are more particular about it than others.

I think the biggest problem with home inspectors these days is that many are alarmist. Any well constructed house will come away with lists of issues. And if you're looking for a reno, the list of issues will surprise you. Work with good contractors who will help you decide what's worth addressing and what really doesn't have to be fixed.

@Patrick Philip in my previous investing area, if your offer was contingent on a home inspection, you would not be the offer getting that property. The cash, no contingency, no inspection offers won every property I looked at/offered on.

With that said, these potential problems (mold, termites, asbestos) become items you need to try and educate yourself to look for, or try and account for in your budgeting. You are probably going to have mold, and termites I have run into issues on a house. Asbestos is out there as well, but some of it is an issue and some of it isn't. Asbestos wrap on pipes is a different animal than asbestos 9x9 floor tile or asbestos siding.

If you are concerned you can buy some cheap lead test kits and try them (if the seller allows). I imagine you could snag samples of the items you think are asbestos and send them for testing. A home inspector can usually look for termites or give you a termite company name.

I pay an inspector and get an official inspection report.  Pest control companies in my area will do termite inspections for free.  I have a contractor that is "certified" to work with asbestos and lead paint, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.  He goes through the property with me and we develop our plan and he gives me a written estimate for all work to be done.  I do this during the option period.  With these reports in hand you can frequently negotiate the price down further.  Also this exercise will hopefully limit surprises.  

I've given up on home inspectors. My experience is that they don't know that much anyway. I go in with myself, a GOOD flashlight, and whatever friend that knows the most about homes and the work it takes to fix stuff. (If you dont know much this may not be for you, but it's pretty easy) Learn for yourself what is mold and what is just dirty. Like you said Asbestos isn't likely to be a major issue for typical flips. Lead just needs to be "encapsulated" which just means painted over. 

Maybe FL is different but where I'm at is nothing like the dramatic BS you see on TV. Even if there's is mold it isn't usually that big a deal if you didn't pay too much to begin with. In fact I think I've won bids because a moldy attic scared away other buyers. Then it cost me like $1500 to have it cleaned by pros with a warranty  Shop mold remediator guys hard!!!

Mold Lead and Asbestos aren't the boogyman TV and the internet want you to think they are. Good luck. 

In Florida I would never advise someone to not get a wood destroying organisms report we just have too many bugs and it could become a major repair. Even CBS can have them in the attic. The others you can judge by the year built and if the inspector says further investigation is needed.

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