Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I get an inspection on a newly-built home?
Wisconsin builders generally do a good job, but even contractors can make mistakes, or install defective components. An inspection is a meticulous evaluation of many dozens of details, and is likely to catch things that may not work right. In addition, an inspection report can give you the documentation to help you get things fixed or replaced.
I have a warranty; why should I pay for an inspection too?
Warranties are great to have after the fact. You should read the language carefully, so you understand any limited coverage or requirements to keep it in force. However, warranties do nothing to help you avoid problems; a good home inspection will do that.
Aren't inspections just for buyers?
That is the typical practice in Wisconsin. But more sellers are realizing the advantages of having their own inspection prior to listing their homes. They would prefer to go into negotiations with the eventual buyer armed with the same knowledge he or she will have. In addition, a pre-listing inspection can alert the seller to what items might be viewed negatively by potential buyers, can draw in more potential buyers, and reduce the likelihood of “failure to disclose” allegations.
Don't all inspectors have to follow the same standards?
In theory, all should follow the state standards of practice. However, some are more diligent than others in their interpretation of what that means. Some choose to join national professional organizations that mandate tougher standards, more education, and a higher code of ethics. And like with any professional consultant, you will just feel more comfortable with some than with others.
How long does it take?
Typically it takes 2 to 4 hours; condos a little less; duplexes a little more. A thorough inspection covers all the items in the state standards. A good inspector will get up on every roof (with few exceptions), go physically into the attic and crawl space if possible, and take the time to explain his or her findings and answer your questions.
So what does it cost?
The average cost in Wisconsin may range from $200 for a condo to $500 or more for a large, complex property. Hearthstone strives to keep prices very competitive. And we charge less for smaller homes and condos. Remember, value is more than just the bottom line. A thorough inspection will be well worth the cost; a cut rate inspection could cost much more than what was initially saved. The inspection of your largest investment is not the place to accept poor quality to save a few dollars.
My uncle builds homes – why can't he look at the house for me?
He may in fact know more about some aspects of the home than many inspectors. But a good inspector follows a methodical process through the entire house, using an array of tools like gas detectors and moisture meters. Equally important as the information, he or she will stand behind the report in writing and be responsible for the findings.
Can you inspect my house if it is covered in snow?
We can still perform an inspection on a home covered in snow, but will not be able to fully inspect the roof. Additionally, an inspection under these circumstances will take more time and be more complicated, but will not be any higher in price than a traditional home inspection.
How long does a home inspection take?
You can expect the inspector to be onsite for two to four hours, with an additional one to three hours of offsite work preparing the inspection report.
What parts of the home do you inspect?
You can see a full list of what is covered during a buyer’s home inspection here. This is a fairly standard list; you would receive the same type of inspection with most other companies. However, at Hearthstone, we strive to stand out from the pack with our professionalism, our personal touch, and our thoroughness. We go on nearly every roof, we go into attics, we operate appliances, and we do several other things that are not required by the state standards and so may not be done by other inspectors.
What other types of buildings do you inspect?
We inspect a wide range of buildings in Milwaukee County and beyond including (but not limited to) commercial properties, churches, apartment buildings, restaurants, warehouses, and office buildings.
How will you enter the home if i’m not there?
Generally, we will work with the listing agent or seller to schedule the inspection and get the combination to a lockbox. We also have the capability to use a lockbox.
Should I hire a furnace-specific professional to inspect my old furnace?
No need - that’s what we are here for! Our inspection will generally determine if the furnace has any obvious problems, its actual age, and whether or not it has been maintained according the manufacturer's recommendations. Based on our report and our recommendations, you may decide you would like to hire an HVAC technician to do a more technical inspection.
How do you inspect the roof?
We will get on the roof during the inspection if we can do it safely. We provide our own large extension ladders on our trucks to inspect two-story roofs.
Should I get a mold test?
We do not recommend a mold test unless you have a very good reason to want one.
What do I do if you find mold?
We will recommend you have it removed as soon as possible. You will also need to address the moisture issue that is causing the mold. A large part of our home inspection centers on determining whether you have moisture problems.
Should I be present for the inspection?
Absolutely. We encourage all of our clients to be present for the entire inspection, if possible.
Can I invite others to the inspection?
Within reason, yes. Remember, the inspector is responsible for everything that happens in the house during the inspection, so having too many people present will distract from the quality of the inspection. One or two people who go through the house and then leave or wait while you finish the inspection with the inspector is generally fine. Please try to avoid the following: a group of people in a small or cluttered house; a group of people in a house still with personal possessions; children running around unsupervised; people who are there to visit rather than to observe; the “contractor buddy” who goes through the house doing his own “inspection”, and taking your attention away from the actual inspection. Remember, the inspector is willing to give you his or her undivided attention, but extra people can be distracting. And every minute you spend with mom discussing Aunt Sally's latest vacation is a minute of information you are missing out on concerning your new home. You should also always ask your realtor about inviting people to the inspection.
Will you provide report information on-site?
No. One of the great features of our services is the time and care we put into giving you a comprehensive, but comprehensible, report. Often, it takes us longer to type up our report than to perform the inspection, because we take the time to make sure we are providing adequate detail in language you can easily understand. Once you read your inspection report, you will understand why we don’t give you the results on-site.
What problems do you find most commonly when inspecting homes?
Defective wiring.Many older homes have outdated or worn wiring systems that compromise the safety of those who live there and need immediate attention. Homeowner additions are another common wiring issue we see during inspections.
Roof issues. We often see roof issues related to aging or improper installation of surfaces or flashing. Depending on the problem, it may be a quick fix or the roof may need to be replaced. If we find a roofing issue, we will recommend you seek an evaluation by an experienced roofer.
Heating/cooling system problems. Again, aging systems, improper installation, or lack of maintenance are common problems we see in heating and cooling systems.
Faulty plumbing. Leaking and questionable systems are the most common plumbing defects we see. Usually, these can be repaired. Rarely, we will advise you replace the system entirely.
Poor insulation and ventilation in the attic. Inadequate attic insulation and ventilation contribute to high utility costs and lack of temperature control in the home.
Poorly maintained home. Ignoring a maintenance issue won’t make it go away. If you or a previous owner put off necessary repairs, this can contribute to even higher costs down the road.
Structural drainage issues. To keep your home dry, water needs to drain away from the building around its perimeter. The addition of gutters and downspouts could help correct a drainage problem.
Cracks in exterior and window perimeters. Cracks in these crucial areas can contribute to water damage and mold growth.
Minor structural issues. We occasionally see broken trusses in attic cavities or even missing structural components. Rarely are these an immediate safety hazard, but we do usually advise repairs.
Environmental issues. Mold growth is just one of the environmental issues a home may develop. We recommend doing a full environmental evaluation before purchasing a home.
Chimney problems. Commonly, we see cracks, re-pointing, or mortar near the top of the chimney due to exposure to the elements. Occasionally, larger cracks around the base of the chimney moving upward could signal a larger structural issue.