Frequently Asked Home & Lead Inspection Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Home Inspections:

01

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a non-invasive examination of the current physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.

02

What does a home inspection include?

The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.

03

Why do I need a home inspection?

Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before you buy it. A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will know more about the house, which will allow you to make decisions with confidence.

If you already are a homeowner, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and suggest preventive measures that might help you avoid costly future repairs.

If you are planning to sell your home, a home inspection can give you the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.

04

What will it cost?

The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending on a number of factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing.

Do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training, compliance with your state’s regulations, if any, and professional affiliations as a guide

05

can I do it myself?

Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail.

Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.

06

Can a house fail a home inspection?

No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value. It is not a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement.

07

When do I call a home inspector?

Typically, a home inspector is contacted immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. Before you sign, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final purchase obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms and conditions to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.

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08

Do I have to be there?

While it’s not required that you be present for the inspection, it is highly recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it.

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09

What if the report reveals problems?

No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t want to become involved in future repair work, this information will be important to you. If major problems are found, a seller may agree to make repairs..

10

If the house proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection?

Definitely. Now you can complete your home purchase with confidence. You’ll have learned many things about your new home from the inspector’s written report, and will have that information for future reference.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lead Inspections:

11

Are all homes regulated? 

No. Only pre-1978 rental dwellings are regulated. Owner-occupied dwellings are not regulated. 

12

Is the removal of all lead paint in a rental unit required?

No. The property owner has the option of meeting the risk reduction standards by passing a lead contaminated dust test for a Full Risk Reduction Lead Certificate or performing lead risk reduction treatments and passing a lead contaminated dust test for a Modified Risk Reduction Lead Certificate.

13

Can any work be done in an affected rental unit without being subject to the work practices?

Yes. Exemptions are provided for a disturbance of 3 square feet or less of painted surface in each room.

14

When is lead risk reduction work required?  

Risk reduction work is required in a vacant dwelling at turnover or if a tenant notifies the property owner of deteriorated paint, and the dwelling was built before 1978. 

15

What must be done to meet the risk reduction standards?  

The property owner must either pass the test for lead-contaminated dust. 

16

When are inspections required? 

Inspections are required following performance of risk reduction work in rental housing, or at the time of turnover prior to re-occupancy. 

17

Could more than one inspection be required?  

Yes. Since the maintenance of a dwelling unit can change, the law requires that the condition of the unit be verified at each turnover. If a unit is determined to be Lead Free, then only one inspection is required. Inspections must be performed by an independent accredited inspector.

18

Can a property owner obtain lead-free status and be exempt from the Risk Reduction standards?  

Yes. Legislation (House Bill 16 passed in the 1996 Session of the General Assembly) provides two procedures for exempting a property from the requirement to meet the Risk Reduction standards. They are: (1) no lead paint (except factory applied coatings) on exterior or interior painted surfaces; or (2) no lead paint on interior painted surfaces and no chipping, peeling, or flaking lead paint on exterior surfaces.

19

Can a rental property owner perform risk reduction work?

Yes. Owners may perform risk reduction work following completion of a two-day training session and accreditation as a lead paint supervisor.  

20

Are there different training requirements for the various types of risk reduction work performed?  

Yes. Training and accreditation/licensing requirements for the various professions who will perform risk reduction work are found under the “Contractors and Inspectors” link below.  

Contractors and Inspectors

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21

What is a Modified Risk Reduction Certification?

This type of inspection requires both a Visual Inspection and a Dust Inspection and is generally conducted in an occupied unit in response to either:

(a) a notice of defective paint or related conditions which may increase the risk of lead exposure; or

(b) a notice that a child or pregnant woman in the unit has a lead level of 10 micrograms or higher per deciliter of blood.

Prior to the Visual Inspection, the property owner should review the lead hazard reduction requirements of the law. All work performed to meet the lead hazard reduction standards, including cleaning, must be conducted by an MDE accredited contractor or supervisor.

After all work has been completed, an accredited Lead Paint Visual Inspector or Lead Paint Risk Assessor may verify that the necessary work has been satisfactorily completed and can then issue the certificate.

For additional information contact the Maryland Department of the Environment, Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 410-537-3825 or 1-800-776-2706 (TDY 1-800-735-2258)

22

What is a Full Risk Reduction Certification?

This type of inspection requires a Dust Inspection, which is generally conducted in a vacant unit prior to occupancy by a new tenant. This inspection must be done before a new tenant moves in.

An inspector must collect dust samples from each room in the unit. Each dust sample must be analyzed by a qualified laboratory, and the results must fall below specified levels.

In general, testing for lead contaminated dust is most likely to be successful in a clean, well maintained property. Flaking or chalking lead paint on windows, in particular, may be an important source of lead dust in a unit.

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