Buying a Beacon Hill condo or a Boston Seaport condo for sale is a big deal, and you want to make sure there are no surprises with any of the systems once you own the property. There are typically two types of standard inspections done in downtown Boston. One is a home inspector, and the other is a termite inspector.

Home inspections are undoubtedly a major part of buying a Boston real estate for sale, whether its a Beacon Hill condo or Midtown high rise condominium. The purpose of a home inspections is intended to provide the Boston condo buyer with a professional opinion on any possible needed repairs or required replacements in the condo or the building. By identifying these issues prior to finalizing the purchase, the buyer is able to make an informed decision on whether or not they will move forward with the closing.

When I represent a buyer, I always recommends that they hire a home inspector. It is one of the many things a Boston condo buyer should do during their due diligence period. However, it’s important to understand that, home inspections are designed to give the buyer a general idea of the condo and condominium building conditions. By no means are they 100% comprehensive. 

How To Find A Competent Home Inspector

Simply ask around. Reach out to friends, neighbors, and your Boston real estate broker. A well respected home inspectors typically don’t even need to advertise. Their business often grows organically through word of mouth. As a broker, we deal with them on nearly every transaction, so we know who’s legit, and who’s not. It makes us look good when we can refer you to someone who will do a thorough job; helping you feel even more comfortable with your home purchase.

Home Inspection Questions

If nothing else, you should know that the home inspector bases their findings on the observations made during their visit to the downtown condo. They’re not obligated to make assumptions of past conditions, or try to predict what could arise in the future. it’s impossible for any one inspector to uncover every issue and material defect that is currently present. They do their best to identify as many pertinent issues as they can during the limited amount of time they’re at the property, My advice: check Google Reviews when it comes to hiring a home or termite inspector.

What’s The Cost?

Most home inspectors will give you a pretty firm estimate in advance. You’ll just need to give them some basic information about the property (location, size) . As with most service providers, the more experienced and in-demand they are, the higher their rate tends to be.  A good one can save you thousands of dollars in the both the short-term and in the long-run.

How Long Do Inspections Take?

Similar to cost, how long they take usually depends on the size and condition of the property. For an average downtown Boston condo, you can expect them to be at the property for about 2 hours. They can often give you an estimate of how long it will take, but keep in mind, each and every issue found will need to be documented. The more problems they uncover, the more time they’ll spend taking notes and photos of their findings.

Should A Buyer Attend A Home Inspection?

Up until recently I would have said yes, but the coronavirus has my changed thinking. so I’m going to answer this questions by stating that’s up to your own discretion.

For the most part, there’s not much happening during the 1-2 hours it takes to inspect a Beacon Hill condo. If you’re planning on being there the entire time, wear a protective mask, gloves and bring sanitizer. If you insist on being there, this would be an opportunity to take measurements for furniture, meet with a contractor (renovations or repairs that are needed) or decorator (design ideas), and get to know the neighborhood. Whatever you decide to do, remember safety comes first.

Will The Inspection Show Everything Wrong With the Property?

Short answer; NO. If you were to get three independent inspections from three different inspectors, you’d have three different reports. Sure, much of their findings would overlap, but each of them would discover issues that some of the others would not. They’re only human, so they’ll all see things differently. Plus, they’re only there for an hour or two, so it’s impossible to check every single potential problem with the property.

How Much Will The Repairs Cost?

Some home inspectors may verbally provide general estimates of repair costs (if you ask), but you’ll be hard to find any of them willing to put it in writing.  Inspectors don’t want to be held liable in the event the actual costs far exceed what they’ve estimated. 

Do Homes Pass Or Fail A Home Inspection?

No, there’s not an overall pass or fail grade given like in high school or college. Issues are merely documented and reported, then it’s up to the buyer to determine whether or not the condition of the property is satisfactory for their needs.

Is It Necessary For New Seaport high rise condos to be inspected?

Yes. I believe every Boston real estate for sale purchase should be subject to an inspection. Even with new Seaport condo high rise construction buildings. As a Seaport condo buyer, you’ll feel comfortable that your new home was built properly and will stand the test of time.

What Are The Biggest Red Flags?

The most common red flags  I come across involve items like water damage, electrical issues and foundation problems. Water and moisture control problems are probably the most prevalent and common concern for buyers, due to the fact that the impact can be widespread. Everything from the roof and siding leaks, to broken pipes and water intrusion into basements and crawl spaces… All can create additional damage and incite health issues when not immediately addressed (wood rot, mold growth, Etc.).

Boston Real Estate Roof Decks

Roof Decks tend to be a prominent issue here in Beacon Hill because they’re rarely built right to begin with; and more importantly, they can pose a major safety hazard if they collapse or someone falls. The wood and fasteners are exposed to the elements, so they’ll naturally degrade over time, especially if they’re not well maintained. The cost to properly repair and secure a deck can quickly get expensive, so they’re often a point of contention between buyers and sellers.

Buyer Preparation Tips

As a Midtown condo buyer, it’s a good idea to do some homework in preparation for the inspection. Obviously, you’ll want to start by doing your research to ensure you hire the right person for the job. Confirm the appointment day and time with the homeowner to ensure the property will be available during that time frame. Verify that all the utilities are on and that the property is de-winterized before the inspection begins.

Make sure you notify the property manager so you can gain access to the the boiler room, electrical closets, roof decks ect.

Lastly, try to obtain a copy of last 3 months condo meeting notes to ensure capital improvement projects that were slated to be completed have actually been done.

Homeowner (Seller) Preparation Tips

Taking the time to properly prepare your home for sale and get it looking good for buyers is very important, but don’t forget about the inspection. When done right, it can save you money and help you avoid the frustration of a negative/incomplete report. There are some basic things you should do to prevent delays and enable the inspection to be conducted in the first place. Start by removing or crating your animals, so they’re not in the way. Unless they’re available in the lockbox, leave the keys to all common area facilities i.e. common electric closet, boiler room, common roof deck ect

If the home is vacant, ensure the property has been cleaned.

You’ll want to address known issues if you can, especially if it’s a cheap and easy fix. Even those who aren’t handy around the house can tackle items such as: changing the HVAC filter, unclogging drains & gutters, replacing burnt out light bulbs, and trimming shrubs & tree branches away from the structure. Also, don’t forget to replace batteries in carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and remote controls for ceiling fans/lights/Etc..

Want to avoid surprises by uncovering and tackling issues in advance.

What Is Covered In A Basic Home Inspection?

Most inspections are based on a standard of practice that serves as a guide for the home inspector. There are various professional trade organizations (ex: ASHI & InterNACHI) that produce these standards of practice, each with its own set of guidelines. 

  • Air Conditioning: 
  • Electrical:
  • Exterior: Balconies, decks, doors,.
  • Fireplace(s):. Particularly if they haven’t been used in a while.
  • Heating: 
  • Insulation & Ventilation: 
  • Interior: Ceilings, cabinets, countertops, doors, floors, la
  • Plumbing: 
  • Roofing: Roof-covering materials,
  • Structural: .

Some inspectors will turn on washer/dryers and other appliances to make sure they’re operating properly. It’s also a good idea to turn on the heat (or air conditioning, if that’s available), and a gas fireplace. If you’re not in a position to have appliances checked, including a home warranty in your purchase is an excellent idea. The warranty covers repairs for the first year of your ownership and is about $500.00

What’s not covered in a Home Inspection

In a standard home inspection? Unless otherwise stated, home inspectors generally will not report on: cosmetic defects, communication systems, presence of , soil contaminants, lead-based paint, hazardous substances, water quality, air quality, noise, or any items that are not permanently installed. Keep in mind, issues must be observable, so anything that is hidden or inaccessible, may not be reported.

Additional Home Inspection Services

Depending on their training, experience and tools available, some inspectors offer other essential services along with a standard home inspection (additional fees usually apply). You may be able to save some money by having the inspector complete these services (instead of hiring a separate company), since they’ll already be making a trip to the property.

  • Asbestos
  • Foundation Inspection
  • Gas Lines
  • Infrared Scan (Thermal Imaging)
  • Lead-based Paint/pipes
  • Mold Testing
  • Pest / Termites / Wood destroying insects
  • Pre-drywall Inspection (New construction or rehab)
  • Pools
  • Radon Testing
  • Water Quality

Boston Real Estate for Sale: Terminate Inspections

A termite inspection covers the condition of the wood throughout the Beacon Hill building, as well as structural support. You’ll get the scoop on whether there’s earth-to-wood contact, termite damage, or dry rot. The written report will typically include estimates for all items, which are recommended repairs. It’s ideal to have a termite inspection for review in a disclosure package so buyers have an idea as to how much they may have to spend to do repairs in the future. 

Boston Real Estate for Sale/Home Inspectors and The Bottom Line

No matter who you choose to do your inspection, be sure to read through their inspection agreement and scope of work before committing to hire them. You may also want to ask them some of the following questions: How many inspections have you completed? What standards of practice do you follow, if any? Do you enter crawlspaces and/or attics to inspect? Do you provide a written (digital) report? When should I get there? How long will it last?

Both should be conducted by a certified professional from a reputable company that conducts most of its inspections with downtown Boston real estate on a regular basis. The inspector will go through the fundamental components of the property, which include a look at the electrical, plumbing and heating systems. The inspection will extend to the overall condition of the foundation and structural support, which extends to crawl and attic spaces. The roof will also be evaluated. What the inspector is looking for are any deficiencies, and he or she then can make recommendations for repair, or defer a particular item to a more specialized professional. For example, if there are any signs of issues with the electrical, the inspector may recommend having a licensed MA electrician view the Beacon Hill condo that you’re interested in buying.

Still Need More Information?

If you have additional questions or need references for some of Boston’s top home inspectors, complete the form below. Someone from our team will be happy to assist.

Boston Real Estate and Home Inspection Request Form


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