Buyers should review the home through a progressive set of lenses as we conduct a home inspection.
— Michael Munn, Certified Home Inspector

Root Realty and Biltrite Home Inspections partnered up to delve into the ins and outs of home inspections. Home buyers often have lots of questions in regards to inspections, therefore, we went straight to the best resource in order to help our buyers be the most educated and knowledgable throughout the home buying process. Read below for insight on general homes, as well as historic homes!

1) What areas of the home are the most important to pay attention to in an inspection? 

First and foremost to consider is overall structure, life safety issues and major system items (electrical, plumbing, A/C, roof). These are most vital when approaching the idea of an investment mainly because these items potentially carry a higher cost of repair. Beyond that, it is also important to evaluate how well ongoing maintenance has been executed by previous owners; inside and out. 

2) As a buyer, what should the priorities be?  Buyers should first go with what they love. This would be a calculation based on look, location, aesthetic, school zones, architecture, etc. An evaluated combination of purchase price and ongoing cost of use including utilities and required maintenance based on current finishes/installed materials should be in mind when making a purchase decision.

3) What does "code" mean and does a home have to be up to code? The building, "code," is the state regulated guidelines and practices. We typically inspect homes in light of the code that was in place at the time of its construction. There have been significant updates in the Florida Building Code dating back to 1992, again in 2002, 2010 and most recently in 2014. Each code update has increased the overall quality of structure, storm/wind resistance and energy efficiency compared to previous versions.

4) What are some "buzz words" that buyers should not be concerned by? Radon and sinkholes are two major terms that should not be a concern. These are more apparent issues in Central Florida than they are for Northeast Florida and of course snow/basement water intrusion concerns definitely do not apply. 

5) What are some "buzz words" that buyers should be concerned by? Chinese drywall, lead paint, asbestos, mold, poor indoor air quality and termites are all terms that buzz around during the inspection process. The most important thing is to work with an inspector that has an appropriate license/background in all of these areas, will be able to answer questions on any of these topics and able to test/verify as needed in correlation to the home.

Read further for information on inspections regarding Historic Homes...

6) If a home has had termite issues, should buyers walk away? If you are a buyer who is already looking in a historic district, some degree of termite presence should be anticipated. An experienced WDO inspector will be able to identify the extent and boundaries of damage and also determine if it is active or dormant. In either case, replacement of any damaged structural members should be completed by a licensed contractor. Extreme cases, fumigation is a next level option. Once any structural members have been repaired, a termite bond should be procured to protect from future infestations. 

7) What should a buyer look for in a historic home, specifically? Red flags to look for in historic properties that cannot be fixed or updated include extra low ceilings and homes with wavy floors that indicate excessive settlement. Buyers should also be watchful for knob and tube wiring and galvanized piping when looking at historic properties as these elements will cause the home to be uninsurable. 

8) Is it true that old homes were built "better?" Yes and no-materials that were available in generations past (old growth heart pine lumber, cement backed tile surrounds and other period relative materials) are often more durable and long lasting compared to present day practices. High levels of craftsmanship and unique architectural features abound in older homes that can only be duplicated in today's market at a premium cost. However, there have been multiple code updates over the past 20 years based on things we have learned in the aftermath of hurricanes and through ongoing energy efficiency research which make new construction of today superior from the stand point of overall energy efficiency and wind damage resistance.  

9) In a historic district, can a buyer expect to find a lot more issues than any other part of town? To put it plainly, yes. Simply by virtue of having been in existence for a longer period of time, there are more opportunities for defects or incompatibilities between old and new materials/systems when different components have been updated throughout the years. Like buying an older car that may have had newer parts added to it, they all have to be able to work together for it to move down the road properly and safely- a home being no different. 

10) How old is too old? There are homes built in the twenties that stand straight and true today as well as homes built ten years ago that are falling apart. In a general sense, newer homes are going to be more energy efficient and require less ongoing maintenance and will have a lower cost of use, typically. The quality of ownership to older homes determines the quality of life left remaining in the home itself. I go back to the car reference, if it is taken care of well; it will run smoothly.

Biltrite, LLC is a family owned and operated Inspection company here in the heart of Jacksonville. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please visit their website at