Property Inspections: What to Expect

everal cities require a municipal pre-sale inspection. Detroit, Dearborn, Romulus and River Rouge are just a few of the cities that require a pre-sale inspection on a home. A pre-sale home inspection involves an employee of the municipality coming to the residence and walking through the property.

The solepurpose of this municipality pre-sale inspection is to check the property for code violations. It is also a revenue stream for municipalities. The inspectors are not working for the buyer or seller.

They work for the municipality and do not offer any guarantees regarding the condition or validity of the inspection. A rule of thumb when buying real estate is to always have your own representation. Therefore, I recommend that you hire an independent home inspector who works directly for you.

Not all inspectors are created equal. However, some inspectors, certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors, have specific training and education. 

The ASHI requires its members to participate in continuing education and adhere to a code of ethics and uniform standards. The purpose of your home inspection should be to identify any potential hazards or unsafe conditions. 


Inspectors should thoroughly inspect the basement walls for cracks and foundation issues, test the furnace for carbon monoxide, plumbing and electrical. Good inspectors will go inside of crawl spaces and attics. They will even walk on top of the roof when weather permits. 

Expect your inspector to check if the electrical system is grounded or ungrounded. They should open and close each window. A typical inspection should take up to two hours and end with you having a clear understanding of all issues with the home. 

You should also receive an inspection report. Some ASHI certified inspectors may recommend other types of inspections. A sewer line inspection is also recommended for older homes. Try to find a sewer inspector who uses a camera and videotapes the interior of the sewer line. 

To avoid a potential conflict of interest, it is also a good idea to hire a sewer line inspector who does not repair or replace sewers. Be present at all of the inspections if possible. Walk around with each of the inspectors and ask questions.

The total costs of these inspections are approximately $400. The upfront investment may save you thousands in the long term. A sewer line replacement can costs up to $7,500 and is not covered by most home owners insurances. 

Foundation repairs can range in costs from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on the severity of the problem. 

Feel free to contact Jaye with real estate questions at

Feb 12, 2012 11:42 pm

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Jaye, I have a question for you. Would you recommend JET properties of West Michigan for Home Inspections in your area? If not, what are your reasons. I like horses with substantial members.

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