Most executed purchase agreements have a contingency clause for a buyer’s home inspection. The buyer normally hires and pays for the inspector. Sometimes buyers do their own inspection or have a friend or family member do the inspection. Either way an experienced inspector or contractor should do a thorough inspection. During the inspection period, which is typically about 10 days, the buyer can cancel the purchase agreement based on the inspection or test results, but typically the inspections concerns are negotiated between the buyer and seller without a cancellation.

  Yesterday, my buyer hired an inspector to inspect a 3,000-square foot house with a detached garage. The inspector also did a radon test and inspected the sewer line. The cost of the inspection was $710.00. The inspector found several mechanical issues related to the boiler, water heater and venting, along with an improper grade that sloped toward the house. The radon level was fine, and the sewer line was clear. 

  The buyer asked the seller to have the mechanical issues repaired prior to closing, and the buyer decided to take care of the grading correction himself. The estimate for the mechanical repairs is about $1,200, so even though the inspection cost $710, the buyer saves money by not having to make the mechanical repairs himself after closing, and the inspector advised him as to the grading correction.

  Not very many buyers have the sewer line inspected, as it is one more fee, and not all inspectors have the equipment. I have had clients pay close to $15,000 to have a broken city sewer pipe replaced. 

 Buyers are frequently having homes tested for radon, as they become more aware of the risks. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is a heavy radioactive gas formed by the disintegration of uranium and radium in the ground. It seeps into your home through holes and cracks in the foundation. The average radon level in Minnesota is 3.8pCi/L which is like smoking 10 cigarettes a day. The EPA estimates 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year attributed to radon. Past and present smokers are at a greater risk than non-smokers. 

  Once you close on your new home the maintenance problems and expenses are yours, unless you can prove that the seller didn’t disclose a defect that he or she was aware of.

  An experienced real estate agent or home inspector can advise you on the different types of home inspections to help protect your investment.

 Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.