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  1. What is and what happens on a home inspection ?
  2. Why do I need a home inspection?
  3. What does a home inspection report include and how much does it cost?
  4. What is ASHI and who belongs to ASHI?
  5. Where does radon come from and what are considered average levels?
  6. What do the Radon test results mean and what do I do if my house tests high?


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What is and what happens on a home inspection?

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home from the roof to the foundation. Having a home inspected is like giving it an checkup. A standard home inspection summarizes findings from a visual inspection of the condition of the subject home's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; foundation, basement, and the visible structures of the home. If problems or systems of problems are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation or remedies.

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Why do I need a home inspection?

A home inspection summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the future. Buyers and sellers depend on an accurate home inspection to maximize their knowledge of the property in order to make intelligent decisions before executing an agreement for sale or purchase.

A home inspection points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After an inspection, both parties have a much clearer understanding of the value and needs of the property.

For homeowners, an inspection may be used to identify problems in the making and to learn about preventive measures, which might avoid costly repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, an inspection prior to placing your home on the market provides a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer's inspector, and provides you an opportunity to make repairs that will make your home more desirable to sell.

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What does a home inspection report include and how much does it cost?

The ASHI inspector's report will review the general, mechanical, and the structural components of the home for safety, function, and condition. The home inspection and report should be done in accordance with ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Inspections and report fees for a single family home vary by geography, size, features, and age of the home. Additional service inspections (Well Water/Septic) or environmental tests (Radon) may be warranted depending upon the individual property.

Do not let the cost deter you from having a home inspection or selecting an inspector you are comfortable with.  Knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the time and expense.  The lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily a bargain.  The inspector's qualifications, including experience, training, and professional affiliations, should be the most important consideration in your selection. 

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What is ASHI and who belongs to ASHI?

The American Society of Home Inspectors is one of the oldest and leading professional associations for independent home inspectors. ASHI's, Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, are viewed as industry leaders recognized and accepted by professional and government authorities. 

ASHI's professional Code of Ethics prohibits members from engaging in conflict of interest activities, which may compromise their objectivity.  This is the assurance to the consumer that the inspector will not, for example, use the inspection to solicit or refer repair work.  ASHI sponsors continuing education, technical seminars and workshops and serves the public interest by providing accurate and helpful consumer information to home buyers on home purchasing and home maintenance.

Members of ASHI are independent professional home inspectors who have met the most rigorous technical and experience requirements in the industry.  Prospective ASHI members must pass two written technical examinations, must have performed a minimum of 250 professional fee-paid home inspections.  Also must maintain their candidate status for no less than six months.  ASHI members are required to follow the Society's Code of Ethics, and to obtain continuing education credits in order to keep current with the latest in building technology, materials, and professional skills.

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Where does radon come from and what are considered average levels?

Radon is found in rock and earth beneath and around the home; well water; building materials. 

Based on a national residential radon survey com0pleted in 1991, the average indoor radon level is 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) in the United States.  The average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L..  Full basements tend to have higher levels especially with heavier clay type soils.  

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What do the radon test results mean and what do I do if my home tests high?

[What do radon test results mean?
If your radon level is below  4 pCi/L  you do not need to take action. However the EPA recommends you consider fixing the home if the radon level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L.

If your radon level is 4 pCi/L or greater, use the following charts to determine what your test results mean. Depending upon the type of test(s) you took, you will have to either test again or fix the home.

Chart 1: Radon Test Conducted Outside Real Estate Transaction
NOTE: All tests should meet EPA technical protocols.

Type of Test(s) If Radon Level Is 4.0 pCi/L or Greater

Single Short-Term Test

Test Again*

Average of Short-Term Tests

Fix The Home

One Long-Term Test

Fix The Home


* If your first short tem test is several times greater that 4.0 pC’/L - for example, about 10.0 pci/L or higher - you should take a second short-ten,, test immediately.

Chart 2: Radon Test Conducted During a Real Estate Transaction (Buying or Selling a Home)

Type of Test(s)

If Radon Level Is 4.0 pCIIL or Greater

Single Active Short-Term Test
(this_test_requires a machine)

Fix The Home

Average of 2 Passive Short-Term Tests*
(these tests do not require machines)

Fix The Home

One Long-Term Test

Fix The Home


Use two passive short-term tests and average the results.

What should I do after testing?

If your radon level is 4.0 pCi'L or greater, you can call your State radon office to obtain more information, including a list of EPA or State-approved radon contractors who can fix or can help you develop a plan for fixing the radon problem.  Reduction methods can be as simple as sealing cracks in floors and walls or as complex as installing systems that use pipes and fans to draw radon out of the building.

EPA has National Radon Program to inform the public about radon risks, train radon mitigation contractors, provide grants for state radon programs, and develop standards for radon-resistant buildings.  EPA works with health organizations, state radon programs, and other federal agencies to make the program as effective as possible.

For more information about radon, its risks and what you can do to protect yourself, call 1-800-SOS-RADON and request a free copy of EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon.  You may also call the Radon Fix-It Line as 1-800-644-6999 between noon and 8pm Monday through Friday, EST/EDT, for information and assistance.  This toll-free line is operated by Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit consumer organization..

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Revised: 01/02/08.

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