Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota Blog
Home Inspection Checklist and Legal Issues in a Real Estate Purchase In New Jersey
When you enter a contract to purchase a property in New Jersey it is essential that you allow for sufficient time to conduct and inspection of the property and provide a list of demands for repairs to the seller. Our suggestion is a minimum of 20 days to allow for inspections and to provide a report. Of course, you should hire a qualified home inspector and not try to do it yourself. This is not the time to be cheap and try to save money. Obtain the best home inspector you can find. This is such a critical financial purchase so you must make sure that you are not buying a property with substantial problems that will lead to additional high costs. Here is a checklist of common concerns to look out for when conducting a home inspection in New Jersey:
Home Inspection Checklist
- Structural Issues: Check for cracks in the foundation, walls, ceilings, basement, and attic. Look for all signs of shifting or settling in the house.
- Roof Condition: Inspect the roof and ask the seller the age of the roof and whether any leaking. Check for missing or damaged shingles, leaks, or signs of wear and tear.
- Plumbing System: Check for leaks, water pressure issues, and signs of corrosion in pipes. Test faucets, toilets, and drains. Run the water in all areas and check the hot water heater and ask seller if any problems.
- Electrical System: Make sure that the electrical panel is in good condition and that there are no exposed wires or overloaded circuits, checking that it is sufficient to service that property. Also ask the seller the age of the system.
- Heating and Cooling Systems: Test the furnace, air conditioner, and water heater for proper functionality and maintenance, again asking the seller the age of the system.
- Insulation and Ventilation: Inspect the attic and crawl spaces for adequate insulation and proper ventilation to prevent moisture issues. Discuss with the seller the type of insulation and when put in.
- Windows and Doors: Check for drafts, broken seals, or any issues with opening and closing, making sure that they are thermally broken. Ensure that windows and doors are properly sealed, and weather stripped. Make sure to check the house framing around the windows to look for rotting due to leaks.
- Appliances: Test all major appliances that are included in the contract of sale on the property to ensure they are in working order.
- Mold and Mildew: Look for signs of mold or mildew in damp areas such as basements and bathrooms, especially looking for black mold as this can lead to serious respiratory issues.
- Pest Infestations: Inspect for signs of termites, rodents, carpenter ants, bats or other pests that could potentially damage the property.
- Water Damage: Check for water stains on walls and ceilings, as well as signs of water intrusion in basements or crawl spaces.
- Foundation and Basement: Make sure there are no cracks, moisture issues, and signs of structural problems in the foundation and basement areas.
- Exterior: Inspect the siding, trim, and exterior surfaces for signs of damage, rot, or deterioration.
- Chimney and Fireplace: Ensure that the chimney and fireplace are in good condition and that there are no safety hazards or risk of fire.
- Drainage and Grading: Evaluate the property's drainage systems to ensure they direct water away from the foundation.
- Environmental Concerns: Inquire about radon gas levels and the presence of underground oil tanks, which can be common concerns in New Jersey.
- Asbestos and Lead Paint: For older homes, check for the presence of asbestos-containing materials or lead-based paint, which can be hazardous if not properly managed.
- Septic and Well Systems: If applicable, have the septic system and well water tested to ensure they meet safety standards.
- Permit Compliance: Verify that any renovations or additions to the property have the necessary permits and were completed to code.
- Future Maintenance: Ask the inspector for recommendations on routine maintenance and repairs that may be needed soon.
Further Legal Issues with Respect to Inspections
In some areas there are mandatory seller disclosure statements that the seller must complete. Check this thoroughly and ask the seller or the representative of the seller questions as to the above. Do not be shy about it. In New Jersey a seller has an affirmative duty to disclose any issues that they do know of. Do not rely on them doing so, however. Do your own due diligence.
Speak to One of Our New Jersey Attorneys
After your home inspector compiles a report, provide it to your attorney to make the demands on the seller for a repair of monetary credit to cover the costs of repairs. Please feel free to call our office and speak to one of our NJ attorneys. We have attorneys in the office that are also real estate investors and developers, so we are uniquely qualified to answer your legal questions as well as practical investment related questions with respect to your property. We provide a free initial consultation on the phone.
John fights hard for his clients and tries to educate them so they understand what is going on with their particular legal problem. John has been Certified by The Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney. Whether it is a personal injury case, bankruptcy case, litigation case or other type of matter, John wants his clients to participate in the decision making process toward solving their problem in the best way possible.
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