The Building Inspection Contingency Is a Protective Clause for the Buyer


The building inspections in St Louis are generally conducted after you are under contract

The building inspection contingency in the standard Residential Sale Contract alleviates the fears of the movie “The Money Pit”.  There are actually 2 standard contracts approved by the St Louis Association of Realtors – the Residential Sale Contract and the Special Sale Contract. The Special Sale Contract is generally used to buy foreclosures, short sales and any type of home that is bought “as is”. The Residential Sale Contract provides more “contingencies” for the buyer. The contingency clauses in the standard Residential Sale Contract protect the buyers from unforeseen issues that may arise once the contract has been signed.

The building inspection contingency is on pages 4 and 5 of the STL standard Residential Sale contract, paragraph 10. As the buyer, you specify the time period for obtaining the inspection which is typically 10 to 15 days.

1. In St Louis, we have a list of building inspectors who do an overall inspection of the major systems, foundations, windows, roofs, plumbing electric, appliances, locks, etc. The building inspector takes photos of the systems, points out items that are no longer functioning as intended, present safety issues o conditions that may require repair or replacement. They will also point out items/conditions that are general maintenance issues that a homeowner should monitor.

2. St Louis has lots of trees and therefore termites. A termite inspector will review all accessible locations for signs of infestation and damage – both past and present. In addition, the inspector will also indicate ares in or around the home that can be conducive to termite activity and suggest preventive measures.

3. St Louis does have a few areas where the radon level is higher than the EPA standard of 4.  Homes in the Stl area are only occasionally far above 20. The EPA has established that anything that tests over 4 needs mitigation. You cannot estimate radon levels based upon the homes age, location, design or test results from the neighbors home. There are no symptoms from radon exposure, you can’t see it and you cannot smell or taste it. Click here for is more information on radon.

4. There are several contractors who have cameras to inspect your sewer line. They will give you a video of it to share with your friends and family. They are looking for cracks and roots that could cause blockages. Most St Louis municipalities have a sewer lateral line insurance coverage if the sewer line is broken.

5. Lead paint is in all homes built before 1978. It presents a hazard to small children and pets when it is loose or on a window sill that can be chewed. A building inspector will point out any hazards. A thorough lead paint inspection is usually not necessary.

6. With the “tighter” interiors of homes and the energy efficiency that is occurring in homes today, mold is more common. A mold testing company can perform a mold test to develop a base spore count in order to figure out if mold removal is needed. Finished basements are the most common areas that have mold but many times you will also find it in ceilings/attics.

7. The “gas inspection” is a St Louis thing.  It will cost $150.  A heating and cooling company inspects the gas lines, the furnace and any other gas appliances in the home to make sure they are up to code and there are no gas leaks.

All of these reports are provided to the buyer in writing. Upon review the buyer has 3 options: accept the home in its present condition, terminate the contract with earnest money to be returned, or the buyer will close upon satisfaction of certain repairs/replacements or a monetary consideration. The monetary consideration must be acceptable to the buyer’s lender.

This is a general overview of the building inspection contingency. I hope it makes you feel a little better about making an offer. Generally speaking the seller does not know if any of these conditions are present in their home as they are mostly gradual changes. Asking the buyer or the agent before making an offer is not usually an effective measure. Hiring the professionals is the only way true way to get the answers. The current costs for these inspections are $75 – $125 for a termite, $100 – $150 for a radon test and $125 – $175 for a sewer lateral test. A mold test is around $300 +/- and a general building inspection will cost about $400 and up and is based on the size and sale price of the home.

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