When you buy a house, it's always wise to get an inspection to check for underlying problems. However, a simple home inspection can sometimes miss more specific things that can be wrong with a potential home. In the Midwest, many homes are older, and they have not been updated. There are some inspections that are definitely worth considering before you buy.
Many basic home inspections might not include a lead test. If your inspector offers this service for an extra cost, you might consider paying the extra fee. Many older homes, especially ones that have not been updated over the decades, have lead paint and even some lead plumbing. These are toxic, especially for children. If your seller knows about lead paint in the home, they are obligated to disclose it before selling, but if they've never got a test on paint and fixtures, they might not know for sure.
Lead can cause nerve damage and delayed development in children, and it an affect mental health in adults. If you do discover lead paint, you'll want to factor in the cost for abatement or sealing, or maybe choose a different home to buy.
Mold can be a big problem in many places, but because the Midwest has naturally high humidity in the summer, mold can grow in homes that don't have any leaks or plumbing problems. Newer homes are more likely to have mold trouble because they are built tighter, which means less room for breathing.
Your mold inspector can look for mold in places where you might not expect it, including in the ducting, the carpets, and the attic. Attic mold is common because some homes don't have proper attic venting, letting warm, humid air get trapped in the space, which is perfect for mold growth.
Basements are another common place for mold because heavy rainstorms and basement humidity can lead to mildew growth. Most people in the Midwest need dehumidifiers in the basement to keep mold from growing. You might even find mold on furniture and behind wallpaper.
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is radioactive and can lead to cancer, particularly lung cancer. It is present in many homes in the Midwest. In fact, one Iowa study showed that 82% of Iowa homes have radon above the recommended safe amount determined by the EPA. Radon testing is not included in regular home inspections, but it can be worthwhile to get so that you know whether or not the home needs to be treated for high radon levels. Some health clinics will give out free radon testing kits so you can do it yourself, or you can pay a radon mitigation company to find and fix the problem with good ventilation.
4. Insect and rodent damage
Finally, you may want to hire a pest control company to do a thorough inspection for insects and rodents. Some home inspectors immediately notice signs of advanced termite or mice infestation, but other times, the problem is just beginning and it sweeps under the radar. In the Midwest, farm communities and high soil moisture content mean that mice and termite populations are more active. You might have termites living in a tree on the property or even in an outbuilding that is not part of the house. If this is the case, you want to know about it so you can take measures to remove the termites and protect the as-yet-untouched house. Ask your realtor if termites are active in the area where you are buying, as some areas have more problems with termites than others.
For more information, contact an inspection company like Donofrio & Associates near you.