We all have a friend or close relative that bought a beautiful home but soon after moving in discovered a costly structural problem in the property. Damaged structures or electrical fire hazards are examples of issues that can impact the safety and health of its future occupants. When planning on purchasing a property, you should rely on experienced realtors, who will surely recommend a previous home inspection on your potential investment. We will guide you through everything you need to know about home inspections in the Sunshine State, moving to Florida.
A home inspection is an unbiased and non-invasive visual examination of the physical condition of a property. A 4-point insurance inspection (aka roof, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) is not a home inspection as defined by Florida law. In this state, a fee paid inspection requires that the process covers all 8 major systems of the home. This will usually include structural elements, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, roof covering, electrical and plumbing systems, interior and exterior components, and site conditions that affect the structure.
Unless you are licensed, inspecting your future property is not permitted in many states. In Florida, home inspectors must be licensed by the State. Under Florida law, they must: complete a department-approved 120-hour course of study; pass a department-approved examination; and pass a criminal background check. When choosing a professional, look for experienced home inspectors that can readily provide their licensure information.
Under Florida law, a home inspector must provide their written professional opinion of the condition of the property they are inspecting. This report is important to you as a buyer not only to learn the condition of these systems or components but also to negotiate repairs, or repair credits, with the seller.
Hiring a professional home inspector in Florida is not that expensive. A basic inspection should range between 200$ and 500$. However, the actual cost will depend upon several factors: age of the home, location, and size. Additionally, improvements like docks, pilings, and pools will increase the complexity and price of the inspection. As a buyer, always remember to ask the company, before hiring, what the inspection will cover and the limitations of their services.
- Swimming pool safety: Particularly in states where swimming pools are open year-round such as Florida drowning is the leading cause of death in and around the home for children under 5 years old. Among exterior components, home inspectors should examine and cite visible defects on pool facilities including pool barriers. If you have small children and are planning on purchasing a house with a pool, make sure that any possible defects on the barrier are evaluated and addressed in the future by the corresponding professionals.
- Wind mitigation inspection: During a wind mitigation inspection, a home inspector (with an approved course on the matter) examines the property to determine its ability to withstand heavy winds. Wind mitigation inspections are optional and not required by the state. However, there is no reason not to get one. Not only can you limit the damage to your property during a storm (by making needed repairs beforehand), but Florida law also states that property insurance companies must provide discounts on homeowner’s premiums with a certified report (up to 88% off your hurricane and wind premium). And don’t worry, your premium can’t increase because of it, it can only go down!
- Mold: Mold should be a concern when living in a humid state like Florida. Not only it can damage the structure of your home, but it can also cause respiratory infections and aggravate asthma and allergies. Home inspectors only perform a mold inspection, which simply identifies the visual presence of mold and generally defines the size of the problem (in square footage). They are not qualified to conduct mold testing unless they are duly licensed as “mold assessors” (Florida’s mold assessment and remediation law). Be sure to consider this service if the property has been unoccupied for a long time or you suspect there can be water damage.
- Sinkholes: Sinkholes are ground-surface depressions that result when a subterranean void weakens the support of the overlying earth. Natural sinkholes are common in Florida because karst (limestone) geography is part of the landscape. Sinkhole investigations are very pricey and generally not necessary. However, a proper home inspection could detect any foundation movement by the presence of structural cracks in walls and floors and windows and doors that don’t close properly. Also, be sure to ask your inspector to check for localized ground settlement on the property and formation of small ponds of rainfall water. If there are no obvious findings, you should not be concerned about the potential of a sinkhole.
Finally, when balancing the time and cost of a home inspection against the information it verifies and can provide to you as a buyer about your future home’s condition, it is well worth its price. Remember to always consult any possible concerns with your trusted realtor.
At The Coto Group, we are happy to provide you with expert advice from our team of real estate agents. With over 40 years of experience, we know the market like the palm of our hand.
If you are interested in booking a consult with one of our realtors, please feel free to contact us at the 305.422.9286 and don’t forget to follow us on our social media accounts for more quality content regarding real estate investing at @thecotogroup on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.