By Licensed Engineers
Pre-Purchase Building Inspection
Insight Only An Engineer
Building Inspections in
Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx,
Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland,
Putnam, and Westchester
An Engineer's inspection, a building inspection, and a termite inspection. You receive four reports: an onsite verbal report, an onsite written report, an emailed written report, and a termite report. Call 800.605.1500 if you have questions. We are happy to help you.
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Five Reasons To Choose
A Licensed Engineer
- Under New York law, only a Licensed Engineer can assess structural integrity, sufficiency of electrical service or heating, etc. An Inspector who is not an Engineer cannot advise you about structural soundness.
- You gain much, and loose nothing, by choosing a Licensed Engineer. A Professional Engineer does everything that a Home Inspector does, and more.
- Becoming a Licensed Engineer requires a minimum of four years of Engineering College and four years of relevant experience with Building Codes, Engineering Standards, passing two Engineering exams, etc. A Licensed Engineer is also required to take continuing education to keep up-to-date. A New York Licensed Home Inspector only needs to take only a 140-hour class, which is the equivalent of one month of training.
- A Licensed Engineer assesses the systems of a building, and how they work together. A building has a structural system, a heating system, an electrical system, a plumbing system, etc. Both the function and the interaction of these systems must be evaluated. A non-Engineer can just describe what is visible. No assessment is made of how the systems work together.
- The Licensed Engineer's training and experience help him detect deficiencies that a non-Engineer would miss. Engineers are, by training and experience, problem solvers. An Engineer can analyze areas of concern and provide you with reliable recommendations.
Section 197-4.2 of the State of New York home inspector law requires home inspectors to have the following wording in the pre-inspection agreement:
Home inspectors are not permitted to provide engineering or architectural services.
THINK about the above restriction and why it is required when choosing who should inspect the home, building, condo, or co-op you are considering purchasing.
Remember, with Heimer Engineering, you receive a home/building inspection, Engineering inspection, and termite inspection with no extra fees.
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should choose a Licensed Engineer
Heimer Engineering is a professional building inspection company. The company has performed over 80,000 inspections over 40 years. With a staff of experienced Engineers, your building inspection needs can be quickly accommodated.
The purchase of a building is a major investment. A thorough evaluation and narrative engineering report helps you make an intelligent purchase decision. The included expense analysis helps you understand the expenses of owning the building.
Under the laws of the State of New York, only a Professional Engineer can offer engineering services to the general public. Some building inspection companies tell you that they have an Engineer on staff, an Engineer reviews the reports, or that an Engineer helped them set up the inspection system. Having an Engineer on staff is not the same as having an inspection performed by a Professional Engineer.
Pre-purchase Building Inspections
There was a time when buildings were less expensive and was purchased without concern about whether the building had major defects. A building purchaser who was unlucky enough to buy a building with significant defects suffered.
Today, buildings are older, more expensive, and have more defects. Buyers have many concerns that were not issues even a few years ago. Having a pre-purchase building inspection performed by a Professional Engineer has become an essential part of the real estate purchase process.
Inspector Versus Engineer
You may need to choose between a State of New York Licensed Home Inspector and a State of New York Licensed Engineer. Some Home Inspectors have posted webpages bashing Engineers, and making wild claims such as anyone can say he is a PE, and only a home inspector can evaluate the structure of an old building. Before you decide to use an Inspector over an Engineer, learn the truth.
Four Inspection Reports
A lot of information is collected during the inspection. Providing you with four inspection reports optimizes delivery of this information to you. All four reports are included in the home or building inspection fee you are quoted.
The On-Site Verbal Inspection Report is the Engineer's discussion of the inspection findings with you. The on-site verbal report provides instant information and the opportunity to ask the Engineer questions.
You are welcome to accompany the Engineer during the inspection and ask questions. The appropriate time for the Engineer to answer questions is after he has completed walking through the site. Answering questions before gathering all information risks providing you with inaccurate answers.
The On-Site Written Inspection Report is a short-form report that highlights the Engineer's major findings. This on-site report includes major issues such as heating, termites, leaks, structure, hot water, electrical system, roof, etc.
The Emailed Written Inspection Report includes information relevant to the inspected home or building and to real estate purchases in general. Details are provided about both major and minor findings. Additional information is included so you can make an informed decision about purchasing the real estate.
The Termite Inspection Report is a specialized report banks often need to issue a mortgage. If there is no termite evidence, the termite inspection report we provide is often sufficient. If there is termite evidence, then termite control measures need to be applied. The firm that applies the termite control measures then issues a termite inspection report. Traditionally, termite control measures are paid for by the seller.
Mobile-Friendly Inspection Reports
It is almost impossible to keep up with the changes that affect home purchasers. However, there is updated information available via the internet. Heimer Engineering's emailed reports contain links to websites that help you to learn more about your prospective purchase.
Many people regularly use their smartphones to read emails. Heimer Engineering emails you a PDF of the inspection report. These reports are designed to be mobile-friendly, and can be viewed on many smartphones, allowing you quick access to the report.
Is The Inspector A
Many inspection companies send out non-Engineer inspectors when the buyer expects a Licensed Engineer. At the site, the non-Engineer Inspector may promise a review by an Engineer in the office. It is unethical to send a non-Engineer when you expect and are paying for Engineering services.
Section §197-4.2 of the State of New York State home inspector law requires non-Engineer home inspectors to have the following wording in the pre-inspection agreement:
Home inspectors are not permitted to provide engineering or architectural services
In New York State, a Licensed Engineer can obtain a state-issued identification card. When the inspector arrives on site, ask to see the New York State Professional Engineer photo ID.
Why Pay Twice?
Heimer Engineering is often asked to perform an inspection after a non-Engineer has performed an inspection. The reason is the non-Engineer's report said, "Assessing the structural integrity of a building is beyond the scope of a standard building inspection." Assessing structural integrity is within the scope of a inspection performed by an Engineer.
Heimer Engineering uses Licensed Engineers to perform pre-purchase inspections. The Engineer will not tell you that assessing the structure is beyond the scope of an inspection.
Remember, with Heimer Engineering, you receive a home/building inspection, Engineering inspection, and termite inspection with no extra fees.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to advise you of visible structural defects.
A pre-purchase inspection is not an environmental inspection. Pre-purchase inspection standards specifically exclude environmental inspections. Some companies imply that they are providing environmental inspections by pointing out environmental concerns. These inspectors often have limited environmental experience, and may unnecessarily alarm prospective purchasers.
Our Licensed Engineers point out environmental concerns just like other inspectors. However, Heimer Engineering will not deceive you by claiming that the pre-purchase inspection is an environmental inspection.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to advise you of environmental concerns.
Code Of Ethics
Standards Of Practice
A Home Inspector's Code of Ethics deals with non-inspection aspects of the inspection such as the Inspector's relationship with the buyer, seller, real estate broker, etc. The Standards of Practice deals with aspects of the home inspection such as what is inspected, what the client can expect, what an inspector is permitted to do, etc.
The Licensed Engineers of Heimer Engineering substantially adhere to multiple home inspection codes of ethics and standards of practice. In the event of a conflict between, or if the Code of Ethics or Standards of Practice conflict with the Licensed Engineer's responsibility to his client, the Licensed Engineer will use his professional judgment as to what should be inspected.
The Licensed Engineer does not share the findings of the inspection with anyone other than our client and their Attorney. The Engineer is required to use any information obtained during the inspection only for the benefit of his client. If someone other than our client or their Attorney calls for information, we require your written authorization from you before we can speak with them.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to adhere to a Code of Ethics and follow a Standards of Practice.
One of the biggest concerns of building buyers is the structure of the building. Fortunately, structural defects are less common in the New York area than in some other parts of the country. Building codes have helped limit the number of structural defects.
If you buy a building that has a structural defect, the fact that most buildings in the New York area do not have structural defects is of little comfort to you. You want to know if the building you are purchasing is structurally sound.
Some building buyers believe that structural defects are only a concern in older buildings. Other real estate purchasers feel they can find structural defects just by "looking carefully". Still other building buyers feel that an old building that is still standing must have no structural defects.
There are non-Engineer building inspectors who advocate a "bounce test." They jump on the floor and if they do not feel the floor bounce, the building is declared structurally sound. Remember, in the State of New York, only a Professional Engineer can render an opinion as to whether a building is structurally sound. Do not be fooled by a building inspector offering the "bounce test".
The fact is that many structural defects have only subtle symptoms. For example, a home buyer may not recognize a sill plate with termite damage that needs $15,000 worth of repairs.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the sufficiency of the structure.
Water In The Basement
Many building purchasers are concerned that basement water indicates a structural problem such as a cracked foundation wall. Virtually all foundation walls have some cracks, so basement water does not necessarily indicate a structural defect. The Engineer will advise you as to whether cracks in the foundation walls are structurally significant.
Most buildings do not regularly have puddles of water in the basement, but are damp during some months of the year. If the basement is damp, it may affect your ability to use a basement for storage. Dampness in the basement is also a concern to people with allergies or other medical conditions because dampness can increase the risk of mold.
Inspections are performed during all kinds of weather, so most buildings are not inspected during a heavy rain. When inspecting a building on a dry day, the Engineer looks for water evidence in the basement to determine what you can expect during a heavy rain or with melting snow.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the extent of water penetration into the basement.
Most buildings in the Metro New York area have a heating system. The heating system keeps heated sections of the building comfortably warm during the cold winter months. In many newer buildings, the heating system and air conditioning system are combined together.
The most common types of heating systems are forced hot air heat, hot water (or hydronic) heat, steam heat, and heat pumps. The source of fuel for the heating system can be oil, gas, or electricity.
You need to know whether the heating system will adequately heat the building on cold days. Heimer Engineering assesses the sufficiency of the heating system. Other things the Engineers assess include the age of the heating system, whether it will need replacement soon, whether there are hazardous conditions, if the heating system is outdated, etc.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the sufficiency of the heating system.
Hot Water System
Most buildings with hot water systems have a tankless hot water heater, a hot water heater with a storage tank, a hot water booster tank, or an indirect-fired hot water heater.
Heimer Engineering evaluates the hot water system in your building and advise you if the system is sufficient. You are also advised of the need to budget for upcoming replacement of the hot water system.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the sufficiency of the hot water system.
Plumbing describes different systems in a building. Plumbing can mean fixtures such as a sink or tub, the pipes that bring water to the fixtures, the pipes that drain the sewage from the fixtures, gas supply lines, underground sprinkler systems, and heating pipes. Heimer Engineering's Engineers check the plumbing for function, leaks, sufficiency of water supply, etc.
One of the biggest concerns of many building purchasers is leakage. Water dripping from a pipe is an obvious leak. Other types of leakage can be difficult to detect, since all that is visible is a dry stain on a ceiling or a piece of duct tape wrapped around a drain line. The Engineer inspects for both obvious leaks and difficult to detect leakage.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the sufficiency of the plumbing system.
The roof keeps rain and other weather elements out of the building. Heimer Engineering's Engineers evaluate the general condition of the roof and estimates the remaining life expectancy of the roof. Evidence of past or present roof leakage is also assessed.
Most roofs are made of asphalt, slate, or clay tile. If a building has a pitched asphalt roof, the roof can be viewed from the ground. If the Engineer finds that a roof leaks, needs repairs, or will soon need replacement, an expense analysis of the needed repairs and replacement is provided.
If the building has a pitched roof and an accessible attic, Heimer Engineering examines for evidence of roof leakage or damage to the sheathing. The Heimer Engineering's Professional Engineers also checks for problems in the attic such as insufficient attic ventilation when the attic is accessible.
Some inspectors advocate walking on pitched roofs. There are inspectors who lift asphalt shingles to determine how they were installed. While this may seem like a good way to check a roof, it can cause serious damage. The slates, cedar shingles, or terracotta tiles may suffer damage and cause the roof to leak.
Most asphalt shingles are self-sealing. Lifting an asphalt shingle can damage the seal and make the roof susceptible to wind damage. There is also no way to examine the membrane under the shingles. Some roofing manufacturers will void a roof warranty if they determine the damage was caused by an inspector on the roof.
An experienced inspector can determine the condition of the roof by visual examination. If an inspector needs to walk on the roof or lift the shingles to examine it, you should ask yourself, Why can't this inspector determine the condition of the roof visually? Can't this inspector see that the shingles are old? Can't this inspector tell that the shingles are irregular?
In some cases, it is not possible to safely observe the roof. The roof may not be visible because of the local topology, because the roof is covered with snow, because there is no roof access hatch or the roof access hatch has been sealed, etc.
If the roof is not visible, satellite images (when available) of the roof are used to assess the roof. This includes historical satellite images, which sometimes allows the roof history to be determined. Fortunately, satellite images of most of the metropolitan New York area are available.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the condition of the roof of the building.
A modern building requires electricity to run many of its vital systems such as lighting, heating, hot water, and air conditioning. Because so much of today's equipment requires electric power, some existing buildings do not have enough circuits to support the demands of modern electrical usage.
Buildings with insufficient electric service may not be old. Even a building constructed only 25 years ago may not have the electric wiring to support the today's needs. This is especially true of commercial buildings, where the electrical services may not have been designed to meet today's electrical demands.
Electric service insufficiency is often aggravated by owners who add equipment without properly upgrading the electric wiring. If a building owner adds equipment without upgrading the electric service, a hazardous condition may exist
Only a Licensed Electrician should open a circuit breaker or fuse panel because of the associated risks. An Inspector or anyone else who is not a Licensed Electrician should never open a circuit breaker or fuse panel.
A Licensed Electrician is in the position to correct hazardous conditions created by opening electrical panels. Someone who is not a Licensed Electrician lacks the experience to deal with these hazardous conditions. If a problem develops because of opening the panel (for example, a circuit breaker becomes loose), the Inspector is not in a position to resolve the problem. Thus, a responsible will not generally open an electrical panel.
Most communities require electricians to be licensed, and prohibit anyone other than a Licensed Electrician from performing electrical work. (Exceptions are made for homeowners wiring their own home.) So a home inspector who is not a Licensed Electrician is not permitted to open an electrical panel.
An experienced Engineer can determine the condition of the wiring by visual examination. The question you should ask is why do some home inspectors insist on opening the circuit breaker panel when it could create a hazard? Can't these home inspectors find risks and hazards by examining the way the building is wired? Are these home Inspectors missing problems because of their limited abilities? Are these home inspectors missing serious wiring problems because of their narrow focus?
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the sufficiency of the electrical system.
Termites can damage a building. Years ago, it was considered sufficient to have only a termite inspection performed before purchasing a building. If there was no evidence of an active termite infestation, it was incorrectly assumed that the building had no structural damage.
A termite control specialist can look for evidence of termite activity, but cannot assess the structural impact of termite damage. You need an Engineer to assess the structural impact of any termite damage.
Termite control specialists and Engineers look differently at termite evidence. Engineers look for the impact of the termites and termite damage, particularly if the damage is structural. A termite control specialist is looking at the need for termite control measures. Therefore, it is strongly recommend that you have the building checked for termites by both an Engineer and a termite control specialist. This maximizes your chances of finding any termite activity and related structural damage. You should also obtain a warranty against future termite activity from the termite control specialist.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess whether any termite damage is structurally significant.
Who Can Inspect For Termites?
There is a lot of misleading information on the web regarding termite inspections. You will see statements such as licensed termite inspector, New York State licensed termite inspection, New York approved termite inspector, trained in termite inspections by New York, New York certified termite inspector, and many more.
The State of New York neither trains nor licenses termite inspectors. The State of New York licenses pesticide applicators and pesticide technicians. In the State of New York, you are required to be licensed to purchase or apply pesticides, including pesticides used in the control of termites.
Licensed Engineers inspect for termites in their role as Engineers. An Engineer is knowledgeable about what termite evidence looks like, what conditions make it likely termites will damage a building, where termites are most likely to be found, etc. In addition, a Licensed Engineer checks for structural damage caused by termites.
Termite inspections by pesticide applicators should be performed as part of the real estate purchase process after the stored material has been removed. In addition, termite inspections are performed as part of the normal maintenance of a building. The Licensed Engineer will advise you when termite inspections are needed as part of normal maintenance.
Leaks And Thermal Imaging
Some home inspectors claim thermal imaging provides better information than traditional methods of inspection. Claims of a super-ability to detect leaks have been published. Thermal imaging is looking at the infrared emissions (essentially, the temperature) of an object.
Contrary to what some have claimed, thermal imaging cannot detect invisible leaks, concealed overheated wiring, structural defects, termite damage, old pipes, asbestos, and mold.
The initial inspection describes the condition of the site at the time of the inspection. Many things can change after the initial inspection. In addition to the emailed report, you receive an on-site report that can help you get adjustments at closing.
A pre-closing inspection is important because:
- Furniture and stored material should have been removed, providing access to more areas and possibly exposing defects;
- Leaks may have develop after the original inspection;
- A system that was functioning during the original inspection may break;
- During the winter, pipes may freeze;
- A strong storm, neighborhood construction, very hot or very cold weather, etc. may cause damage;
- Equipment or appliances may fail;
- A repair the seller makes may be improper;
- And many, many more changes can occur.
The best way to protect yourself is a pre-closing inspection. The Licensed Engineer returns to the site just before closing, and checks to determine what has changed. A pre-closing inspection gives you the opportunity to have adjustments made at closing.
After the Inspection
Just because you purchase a home or building does not mean that things are stagnant. Heimer Engineering sends out periodic emails to help you keep your home or building up to date. (You can opt out at any time). Among the emails we sent out over the last year:
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Contact Heimer Engineering 24/7
We are happy to help you. To set up an appointment for a pre-purchase inspection, or to find out about Engineering services or expert court testimony, click below for a contact form, send us an email, text us at 6602 0091 55, or call 800.605.1500. If no staff member is in the office, leave a message. Remember to ask about a web discount.
Heimer Engineering serves the Metro New York area, including New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island (Nassau County, Suffolk County), and Upstate New York (Rockland County, Putnam County, and Westchester County).
Heimer Engineering respects your privacy. Some inspection firms share information with insurance, landscaping, home maintenance, moving, cable, mortgage, and other companies. Some inspection firms sell their client lists. These practices are unethical. You will not receive phone calls or solicitation emails from third parties as a result of providing personal information.
In the event of a life-threatening emergency (fire, building in danger of collapse, facade with loose bricks, debris falling from a building, gas leak, etc.) do not call Heimer Engineering. If there is a life-threatening emergency or other hazardous condition, call 911. Emergency situations need to be handled immediately by first-responders who can evacuate buildings, have utilities shut off, and take other steps necessary to preserve life.
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Heimer Engineering performs home inspections, building inspections, condominium inspections, and co-op inspections in the State of New York. We do not perform inspections or recommend Inspectors or Engineers in the areas outside of the State of New York. We also provide Licensed Professional Engineer consultation services including hurricane and storm damage and damage from adjoining construction. Expert witness services are provided regarding playground injuries, parking lot, walkway, and stairway slip, trip, and fall.
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2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 230
Commack, New York, USA 11725-2947
New York Metro Area: 800.605.1500
Bronx, New York: 718.547.2000
Brooklyn, New York: 718.237.7777
Manhattan, New York: 212.563.4777
Nassau County, New York: 516.487.2100
Putnam County, New York: 845.638.4900
Queens, New York: 718.544.3000
Staten Island, New York: 718.227.5000
Suffolk County, New York: 631.858.5500, 631.549.2500, 631.288.3900
Westchester County, New York: 914.576.6100
Fax: 631.858.5599, 646.795.4571
Coordinates: 40.8439215, -73.2871259
International Standard of Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) Revision 4 Classification: 71
North American Industry Classification System (SAISC) Classification: 541330, 541350