By Licensed Engineers
Pre-Purchase Condo Inspection
Insight Only An Engineer Offers
Condo Inspections in
Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx,
Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland,
Putnam, and Westchester
An Engineer's inspection, a condo 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.
Scroll down to find why you
should choose a Licensed Engineer
In a condo unit, you are generally responsible for maintenance of interior areas. It is easy to look at a condominium and think that the repairs needed are minor. Heimer Engineering's Professional Engineers help you understand the true condition of the condo.
You may be assessed for repairs outside your condo. For example, the cost of upcoming roof or boiler replacement may be assessed against all condo unit owners. If permitted access at the time of the inspection, Heimer Engineering's Engineers check important common areas.
Of Condo Units
There was a time when condos were less expensive and was purchased without concern about whether the condo had major defects. If a condo purchaser was unlucky enough to buy a unit in a building with significant defects, they suffered.
Today, condos are older, more expensive, and have more defects. Condo buyers have many concerns that were not issues even a few years ago. Having a pre-purchase condo inspection performed by an Engineer Inspector has become an essential part of the condo purchase process.
Until the 1980s, condominium units were typically medium or high-rise buildings with many units. Often repairs were years in the future. This helped keep the assessment against an individual owner to a minimum.
Today, condos are much different than in the past. In the early 1980s, different types of condo units began to be created. Two, three, and four family houses were converted into condos. Whole housing developments of detached houses were set up as condos.
Even medium and high-rise buildings have potential expenses. Common repairs could become assessments against individual condominium unit owners. The older the building, the greater the risk of a significant assessment. This is one of the reasons it is important to have an Engineer inspect the condo unit you are considering purchasing.
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.
Condos in the metro New York area have a heating system. The heating system keeps the condo comfortably warm during the cold winter months. In some newer buildings and condos, the heating system and air-conditioning system are combined together in one unit.
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 condo on cold days. Heimer Engineering's assesses the sufficiency of the heating system. The Engineers also assess the age of the heating system, whether the heating system 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
Hot water is used for bathing and cleaning. Hot water serves a vital role in maintaining good health. To serve this role, hot water must be available at an appropriate temperature.
Most condos are served by 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. It would be very frustrating to move into your new condo, and find that you do not have enough hot water the first time you try and shower.
Heimer Engineering's Engineers evaluate the hot water system in your condo and advise you if it 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 condo purchasers is plumbing 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.
A modern condo requires electricity to run many of its vital systems such as lighting, heating, hot water, appliances, and the air-conditioning . Because so many of today’s appliances require electric power, some older condos do not have enough circuits to support the demands of modern electrical usage.
Condos with insufficient electric service may not be old. Even a condo constructed only 25 years ago may not have the electric wiring to support the today's needs.
Electric service insufficiency is often aggravated by owners who add appliances without properly upgrading the electric wiring. Even changing an electric oven to an electric self-cleaning electric oven may increase the electric loads to the point where the electric service needs to be upgraded. If an owner adds appliances 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.
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