Congratulations! You made an offer on a home in the mountains of Western North Carolina and it has been accepted. Once you sign the contract, you typically enter the phase called “due diligence.” During your due diligence period, you have the opportunity to study the property, do title research and most importantly, perform inspections on the property.
Overall Inspections: Not all homes require the same inspections, but most do. There usually is an overall inspection report done. This is a comprehensive report that requires the inspector to come out to the house and spend several hours going through the entire home. The inspector will check appliances and confirm they work properly. They will inspect the crawl space and the attic space. During this process, the inspector will take photos to document exactly what they inspected and make notes of any flaws they find.
Roof Inspections: Some general inspectors will provide an evaluation of the roof as they see it from the ground or from a ladder, but in North Carolina, the inspectors are not required to go on the roof. To get a full inspection of the roof, you will want to hire a roof inspector to ensure there are no issues. Beyond looking at the condition of the shingles, metal or other covering, the roof inspector can give you the approximate life left on the roof before it needs to be replaced. Roof inspections are highly recommended due to the amount of rain we get in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Fireplace Inspections: If the home has a fireplace and chimney, you will want to hire a professional to inspect the chimney. Usually, this inspection will check the condition of the chimney and the fireplace insert if one exists. If gas logs are present, they will make sure they are working properly, as well. Chimneys should be cleaned once every couple of years, at least. If the previous owners have neglected this, the chimney could be cleaned at the time of inspection.
Well Inspections: Many homes in the Cashiers and Highlands area will have a well for the water supply. Having a well company inspect the well is also recommended. During a well inspection, the inspector will determine the condition of the well and verify the gallons per minute which should be stamped on the well head. Some well companies will test the water for you. If they do not, getting a water test kit would be recommended.
Septic Inspections: Septic tanks are very common with mountain properties. A septic tank should be pumped out once every 3-5 years. A septic evaluation is not done on a general inspection, so getting a professional septic company to do an inspection is important. This inspection will identify where the tank is located, determine if the tank is in good shape and the approximate age of the tank. The drain field will also be identified. Most septic tanks installed after 1974 are recorded with the county and can easily be requested. This report will show a diagram of the tank and where it is on the property. Most septic companies will offer to pump the tank when they do the inspection which is usually a good idea if you are pretty certain you are buying the home.
Pest Inspections: Pest inspections are important to have done in the mountains. Although termites are not as common in the mountains as they are in other areas of the country where it is warmer, the pest control company can evaluate if termites or any other pest infestation has occurred or is currently an issue. These inspections are not expensive and well worth it.
HVAC Inspections: Although the general inspector will check to see if the HVAC system is working properly by taking a temperature reading for heat and air conditioning, it is recommended to have a qualified HVAC inspector evaluate the condition of the HVAC unit. Typically, an HVAC system will have a life span of 10-15 years, but because they do not get used as much in the mountains, they may last a little longer. If the home you are buying has a unit over 10 years old, it is likely you will need to replace it in the next few years.
It is important to note that inspections are not just for buyers! If you are considering selling your home, a pre-listing inspection is highly recommended. A pre-inspection is exactly the same as when a buyer performs one, except you are finding out what issues your home may have before putting it on the market. Beyond issues you are aware of and must disclose, you may uncover some hidden problems that a potential buyer will find. If you fix these issues in advance, you may avoid losing a contract due to an unknown flaw in the home. Pre-inspections also gives a buyer tremendous confidence in advance of making an offer. An offer closer to asking price could be achieved because there are no known issues. Many buyers will want to complete their own inspection of course, and that is fine if they want to double check with an inspector they have chosen.
Once the due diligence period is complete, a buyer adds up what repairs are needed. This total cost may exceed what you were expecting to pay. Often, the contract is renegotiated to include a credit to cover these repair costs. Sometimes, the buyer will ask the seller to take care of any issues before the closing.
Finally, just because you perform these inspections does not mean that every issue was identified. Sometimes an unknown flaw will be hidden so well that not even an expert inspector can find it, but having inspections done helps eliminate as many problems as can be found. If you’d like to learn more about local inspectors in the Cashiers and Highlands area, please reach out to our Cashiers Valley Real Estate team. We’d be happy to share our expert recommendations with you.