646.757.4500 • 800.605.1500
Home, Building, Condo, And
Co-op Inspection Basics
Insight Only An Engineer Offers
Home, Building, Condo, and Co-op Inspections
in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx,
Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland,
Putnam, and Westchester
646.757.4500 • 800.605.1500
An Engineer's inspection, a pre-purchase 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 or 646.757.4500 if you have questions. We are happy to help you.
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Four 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. A Professional Engineer does everything that a Home Inspector does, and more. An Inspector who is not an Engineer cannot advise you about structural soundness.
- Becoming a Licensed Engineer requires a minimum of four years of Engineering College and four years of relevant experience with Building Codes and Engineering Standards, passing two Engineering exams, etc. A Licensed Engineer is also required to take continuing education classes to keep up-to-date.
- 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.
- 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 analyzes areas of concern and provides you with reliable recommendations.
Home 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.
You may be told, "You shouldn't use an Engineer because they have so many disclaimers in their report". It is true that Engineers have more more limitation information in the report. There are two reasons for this:
- The Engineer is doing more for you during the inspection. Naturally, there are more limitations that need to be disclosed.
- A non-Engineer Home Inspector can use a simple disclaimer for everything: "I'm not an Engineer". A Licensed Engineer performing home inspections needs to be specific as to the limitations on the inspection.
During the inspection, the Licensed Engineer examines, analyzes, and/or reports on (as appropriate based on the building):
Complaints and Reviews
Many websites allow consumers to rate, recommend, or complain about a company. These reviews can assist or mislead consumers. The websites that post these reviews survive by generating advertising revenue. They are looking to bring visitors to the site.
The Better Business Bureau is careful about who can post reviews and complaints. Unlike some other websites, the Better Business Bureau only posts reviews that can be verified. And the Better Business Bureau gives Heimer Engineering a rating of A+.
Positive reviews show satisfied clients. Negative reviews from clients show us how to make future clients satisfied. And negative reviews from sellers are the equivalent of positive reviews from clients.
Four Inspection Reports
A lot of information is collected during the inspection. Providing four inspection helps you understand the condition of the real estate you purchasing. All four reports are included in the 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 information risks providing you with inaccurate answers.
The On-Site Written Inspection Report is a short-form report that highlights the Engineer's findings. This on-site report includes 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 Emailed Written Inspection Report goes three quality control reviews. The first quality control review is performed by the Engineer before the report is submitted for processing. When the report arrives in the office, it receives a second quality control review. After the report is drafted, it receives a third quality control review. Only after all of these reviews are you sent the report.
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 is often sufficient to issue a mortgage. If there is termite evidence, then termite control measures are needed. The firm that applies the termite control measures then issues a termite inspection report. Traditionally, termite control measures are paid for by the seller.
A Licensed Engineer's pre-purchase inspection is not performed to show you what the building looks like. You can see that yourself. Heimer Engineering's reports are not driven by a photograph-based commercial inspection report software. Heimer Engineering uses proprietary inspection report software written by a Licensed Engineer.
The Engineer assesses what is important to you regardless of how the defect looks in a photograph. Heimer Engineering's pre-purchase inspection reports are based on providing you with the information needed to make an informed decision.
Photographs included in Home Inspector's report may showing a gutter draining near a foundation wall, a crack in a path, rotted wood trim, or siding shingles close to ground level. You never see photographs showing the electrical service is insufficient, that the boiler is insufficient in size, or that a house is structurally unsound. The Licensed Engineer interprets the building's condition and provides that information in the report.
If you want to remember what a room looks like, take photos. Photographs add color to a report, but you need a Licensed Engineer to interpret what is in the photograph. A Licensed Engineer provides a professional opinion regarding structural soundness, sufficiency of the heating system, sufficiency of the hot water system, sufficiency of the electrical system, etc.
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 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 most smartphones, allowing you quick access to the report.
Is The Inspector A
Many inspection companies send out non-Engineer inspectors when the buyer requested 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 think you receiving Engineering services.
When you retain a Licensed Engineer to perform a home, building, condo, or co-op inspection, you expect that a Licensed Engineer will visit the site. It is unethical for a home inspection company to send a non-Engineer when you expect and are paying for the services of a Licensed Engineer.
Section §197-4.2 of the State of New York State home inspector law requires non-Engineer home inspectors to include 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.
Regardless of what Engineering firm you choose, verify that a Licensed Engineer is performing the inspection. In New York State, a Professional Engineer can obtain a state-issued photo identification card. When the inspector arrives on site, ask to see the New York State Professional Engineer photo ID. A non-Engineer cannot lawfully obtain a New York State Professional Engineer's photo ID.
Who Is Entering The
House Or Building?
In these days when everyone is cautious, you do not want just anybody in your home or building. Most people have valuables around that they do not want to put at risk. Anyone entering a home, building, condo, or co-op to perform an inspection should provide a state-issued photo ID.
Before the inspector enters the home or building, you should identify the person by asking to see the Professional Engineer photo ID issued by the State of New York.
Before the inspection,
ask to see the New York State
Make sure that you know who is entering the house or building, and verify the person is a Professional Engineer. Ask to see a New York State Professional Engineer photo ID.
Why Pay Twice?
Why risk having a low-cost or inexperienced inspector tell you, "you need to hire a Licensed Engineer to check this" or, "only a Licensed Engineer can tell you if this crack is structural".
Heimer Engineering is often asked to perform an inspection after a non-Engineer has performed a home inspection. The reason is the non-Engineer's report stated, "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 pre-purchase inspection performed by an Engineer.
Heimer Engineering uses State of New York Licensed Engineers to perform pre-purchase inspections. The Engineer will not tell you that assessing the structure is beyond the scope of an inspection.
One of the biggest concerns of home and building buyers is the structure. Fortunately, structural defects are less common in the Metro New York area than in some other parts of the country. Building codes help limit the number of structural defects.
If you buy a house or building that has a structural defect, the fact that most buildings in the New York area do not have significant structural defects is of little comfort to you. You want to know if the home or building you are purchasing is structurally sound.
Some home and building buyers believe structural defects are only a concern in older buildings. Other real estate purchasers feel they can find structural defects by "looking carefully". Still other home and building buyers feel that an old house that is standing must have no structural defects.
There are non-Engineer home inspectors who advocate what they call the "bounce test." They jump on the floor and if they do not feel the floor bounce, the house or building is declared structurally sound. In the State of New York, only a Professional Engineer can render an opinion as to whether a home or building is structurally sound. Do not be fooled by someone offering the "bounce test".
Water In The Basement
Many home and 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 defects. The Engineer will advise you as to whether cracks in the foundation walls are structurally significant.
Most houses and 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 store personal belongings in the basement. Dampness in the basement is also a concern to people with allergies or other medical conditions because dampness can increase the risk of mold.
Most houses and buildings are not inspected during a heavy rain. When inspecting a house or 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.
Houses and buildings in the Metro New York area have a heating system. The heating system keeps the home or building comfortably warm during the winter months. In many newer homes and buildings, the heating system and air conditioning system are combined.
The most common types of heating systems found in homes and buildings are forced hot air, hot water (or hydronic), steam, 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 home or building on cold days. Heimer Engineering's Engineers assess the sufficiency of the heating system. Other things the Engineer assesses include 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.
Hot Water System
Most homes and buildings 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. It would be frustrating to move into your new home or building, and find that you do not have enough hot water the first time you shower.
Heimer Engineering's Engineers evaluate the hot water system in your home and advise you if it is sufficient. You are also advised of the need to budget for upcoming replacement of the hot water system. The expense analysis in the engineering report helps you plan for the future.
Plumbing describes different systems in a house or 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, the 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 concern of many home and building 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 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 plumbing leakage.
The roof keeps rain and other weather elements out of the house or building. Heimer Engineering evaluates the condition of the roof and estimates the remaining life on the roof. Evidence of past or present roof leakage is also assessed.
Most roofs are made of asphalt, slate, or clay tile. 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 house or building has an accessible attic, Heimer Engineering examines for evidence of roof leakage and sheathing damage. The Engineers also check for problems in the attic such as insufficient attic insulation and ventilation.
Some inspectors advocate walking on pitched asphalt, slate, and tile roofs. There are inspectors who lift asphalt roof shingles to determine how they were installed. This may seem like a good way to check a roof, but it can damage the roof. The slates, cedar shingles, or terracotta tiles may suffer damage that causes the roof to leak.
Most asphalt roof shingles are self-sealing. Lifting an asphalt roof shingle damages the seal and makes the roof susceptible to wind damage. There is no way to examine the membrane under the roof 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; Why can't this inspector determine the condition of the roof visually? Can't this inspector see that the roof shingles are old? Can't this inspector see that the roof shingles are irregular?
In some cases, it is not possible to safely observe the roof. The roof may not be visible because of local topology, because the roof is covered with snow, because there is no roof access hatch, or because the roof access hatch has been sealed.
If the roof is not visible, available satellite images of the roof are used to assess the roof. This includes historical satellite images, which can allow the roof history to be determined. Fortunately, satellite images of most of the metropolitan New York area are available.
A modern house or building requires electricity to run many systems such as lighting, heating, hot water, appliances, the air-conditioning system, etc. Because many appliances require electric power, some existing homes do not have enough circuits to support modern electrical demands.
Homes and buildings with insufficient electric service may not be old. Even a house or building constructed 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 upgrading the wiring. Even changing an electric oven to a self-cleaning electric oven may increase the electric loads to the point where the electric service needs to be upgraded. If a home or building owner adds appliances without upgrading the electric service, a hazardous condition may be created.
Only a Licensed Electrician should open a circuit breaker or fuse panel because of the risks. An Inspector or anyone else who is not a Licensed Electrician should never open a circuit breaker or fuse panel.
A Licensed Electrician can correct hazardous conditions created by opening electrical panels. Someone who is not a Licensed Electrician lacks the experience to deal with 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. A responsible home inspector will not open electrical panels.
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.)
An experienced Engineer can determine the condition of the wiring by visual examination. The question is why do some home inspectors insist on opening the circuit breaker panel when it could create a hazard. Can't these home inspectors see the risks and hazards on the outside? Are these home inspectors missing wiring problems because of their narrow focus?
Termites can structurally damage a building. Years ago, it was considered sufficient to have only a termite inspection performed before purchasing a home or 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 termite damage. If repairs are needed, the expense analysis in the inspection report can help you understand the expenses.
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 treatment. Therefore, it is recommend that you have the house checked for termites by both an Engineer and a termite control specialist. This maximizes your chances of finding termite activity and related structural damage. You should also obtain a warranty against future termite activity from the termite control specialist.
Who Can Inspect For Termites?
There is misleading web information regarding termite inspections. You will see statements such as licensed termite inspector, New York 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.
Licensed Engineers look for evidence of termite activity as part of the pre-purchase inspections. The Engineer knows about termite evidence, what conditions invite termite activity, where termites are likely to be found, etc. In addition, a Licensed Engineer checks for structural damage caused by termites.
A pre-purchase inspection is not an environmental inspection. Pre-purchase inspection standards specifically exclude environmental inspections. Some companies imply they are providing environmental inspections by pointing out environmental concerns. These inspectors often have limited environmental experience, and may unnecessarily alarm real estate purchasers.
Our Licensed Engineers point out environmental concerns just like other inspectors. However, Heimer Engineering will not deceive you by claiming the pre-purchase inspection is an environmental inspection.
Code Of Ethics
Standards Of Practice
A Home Inspector's Code of Ethics deals with non-inspection issues such as the Inspector's relationship with the buyer, seller, real estate broker, etc. The Standards of Practice deals with 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. 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.
The Licensed Engineer does not share the inspection findings with anyone other than our client and their Attorney. The Engineer is required to use information obtained during the inspection only for the benefit of his client. If someone other than the client or their Attorney calls for information, we require the client's written authorization before we can speak with them.
Leaks And Thermal Imaging
Some home inspectors claim thermal imaging provides better information than traditional methods of inspection. Claims of an ability to detect leaks and hidden structural defects have been used in home inspection advertising.
Contrary to what some home inspectors claim, thermal imaging cannot detect invisible leaks, concealed overheated wiring, structural defects, termite damage, old pipes, asbestos, and mold. Thermal imaging is looking at the infrared emissions (essentially, the temperature) of an object. Thermal imaging provides no special ability to detect concealed defect.
A pre-purchase inspection describes the condition of the site at the time of the inspection. The condition of the building can change after the initial inspection. A pre-closing inspection helps you find out what has changed.
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 damage the building;
- 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.
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Contact Heimer Engineering 24/7
Heimer Engineering is happy to help you. Staff members are available to answer your questions from Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Messages are checked Sunday evening through Thursday evening. Inspections are performed seven days a week.
To set up an appointment for a pre-purchase inspection, or to find out about Engineering services or expert court testimony send Heimer Engineering an email, send a text to 888.769.6910, call 646.757.4500, 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. 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 call 911. Emergency situations need to be handled by first-responders who can evacuate buildings, shut utilities off, and take other steps necessary to preserve life.
In addition to the webpage discount, discounts are available for referrals (attorney, real estate broker, mortgage broker, co-worker, friend) first time buyers, senior citizens, military (army, navy, air force, marines, coast guard), first responders (police, ambulance, fire), municipal employees, security personnel, and union members.
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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 outside of the State of New York. We 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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